USAID stands for the United States Agency for International Development. This agency is completely responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.

We will be taking a deeper look into USAID – delving into what they are, who they are, and why they are an important part of foreign affairs in the United States of America.

What is USAID’s Mission?

The organization covers a lot of different issues in a lot of different areas of the world.

Their official mission is as follows: On behalf of the American people, we promote and demonstrate democratic values abroad, and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. In support of America’s foreign policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development leads the U.S. Government’s international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance.

They seek to make sure similar values are being considered across the globe. When countries are going through a horrible crisis, USAID is there to assist.

Who Does the Organization Consist of?

There are many different offices that make up the USAID organization.

Their leadership consists of Mark Green, who is their administrator, as well as Thomas H. Staal the agency counselor. The chief of staff is William R. Steiger, and their national security adviser is Neilesh Shelat. In addition to these individuals, there are also many, many different administrators that make up the leadership for the group.

As far as the independent offices that make up USAID, there is a Faith-Based and Community one, as well as ones for Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs, Civil Rights and Diversity, Human Capital and Talent Management, and so many more.

Their major organization units are referred to as bureaus. These are divided into different sections by their geographic location, their functions, and by headquarters.

Their History

USAID was started by John F. Kennedy on November 3rd, 1961. This was the first time in the United States government that a single agency was in charge of foreign economic development.

Due to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, all foreign assistance activities were transformed completely.

President Kennedy saw the dire need for uniting development into one agency that would be responsible for providing aid to foreign countries in order to promote social and economic development. His dream of this united effort was created with USAID, and now it is an innovative, important part of the United States government.

USAID and Foreign Affairs

As we noted before, USAID covers a lot of ground. They have different bureaus for different parts of the world – there is one for Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

One huge aspect of what USAID does is their commitment to global health. They have three specific strategic priorities in place in order to focus their work and get as much progress done as they can.

The three strategic priorities are:

Controlling the AIDS/HIV Epidemic

The organization’s HIV/AIDS program was started in 1986 as a key implementer in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR).

They provide a lot of country-led efforts, leadership, scientific resources, and technology in order to achieve AIDS/HIV epidemic control.

This has led to over 13.3 million people being on life-saving antiretroviral treatments, over 85 million people who have received testing and counseling for HIV (which includes over 11 million pregnant women), 6.4 million orphans and children receiving care, and over 250,000 healthcare works trained to assist with HIV and AIDS.

Preventing Child and Maternal Deaths

Another top priority on their list for global health is the prevention of children and mothers dying.

Starting in 2008, USAID has made considerable efforts that have saved 4.6 million children’s lives and over 200,000 women. Child mortality has decreased by 50% since the year 1990, however, 5.9 children and over 300,000 women still die each year.

Due to their efforts in nutrition, family planning, child and maternal health, and malaria – the organization is able to really put a dent in preventable deaths each year.

Their programs are set in 25 different focused countries that have the highest need, commitment levels, and the most potential for resources from public and private sectors.

Combating Infectious Diseases

They are also extremely focused on combating infectious diseases. USAID uses their Emerging Pandemic Threats program to strengthen health systems all over the world.

Tuberculosis, in particular, has been cut down by about 50% since 1990, and over just the past ten years 1.6 billion treatments have been provided for neglected tropical diseases.

Other Commitments USAID is Passionate About

Besides global health, USAID has a lot of other commitments as well.

They have programs that deal with agriculture and food security – making sure that everyone has access to the food that they need.

There are also programs for environmental issues like climate change, education, gender equality, economic growth and trade, and of course human rights.

This organization has done so many wonderful things for the world as we know it today.

Without a group this unified and organized, the state of the world as we know it may have been a far different and worse place to be.

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