Foreign Aid Works. Here’s Proof.

January 23, 2014 By Ashley E. (Chandler) Chang

In Bill Gates’s annual letter, he challenges the myth that “foreign aid is a big waste.” This myth is so prevalent that Americans think we spend about 30% of the federal budget on foreign aid.

Gates worries that this “gives political leaders an excuse to try to cut back on it.” We agree, so we’ve assembled a few of our own facts on how foreign assistance is delivering results.

Bill GatesFACT: The world has mostly eradicated polio, thanks to the global vaccination programs that America supports.

Last week, we learned that India has finally eradicated polio. How did this happen in a country with a billion people? It took a partnership between USAID, the Indian government, the Gates Foundation, and others to rid the world of a horribly debilitating disease.

FACT: The number of people in the world who survive on less than $1 a day has dropped by a quarter billion people since 1990.

U.S. development agencies, working with the private sector and NGOs, have developed innovative and sustainable solutions to fight global poverty. Walmart, for example, partners with U.S. agricultural development programs to buy locally grown food from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, helping hundreds of thousands of people move out of poverty, while strengthening their supply chains.

FACT: Ten of America’s top 15 trading partners were once recipients of development or security assistance.

Promoting economic growth is the focus of American development programs, and the fastest growing markets today are in developing countries. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) work with U.S. businesses to promote sustainable economic development by expanding investment, trade, and exports. For every $1 billion in American exports, 5,500 new jobs are created at home, making foreign aid a wise investment for the U.S.

As Gates goes on to say in his letter, foreign aid is a smart investment in our own economic future. It’s truly doing well by doing good.