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The United States Agency for International Development

(USAID) administers the non-military part of the United States foreign aid programs

Congress votes the funds for foreign aid, and AID determines their use. The agency assists underdeveloped countries that have shown they want to help themselves and become self-supporting. It helps provide basic needs in such areas as agriculture, education, family planning, and health.

Most assistance provided by AID is in the form of long-term, low-interest loans and technical advice. The loans are used to pay for the construction of hospitals, houses, schools, and similar projects. All goods and services purchased with the loans must come from U.S. suppliers. AID technical advisers help farmers modernize agricultural methods, train teachers and medical personnel, and direct programs aimed at eliminating disease. AID also provides birth-control information to countries that request it.

AID also encourages U.S. businesses to make investments in underdeveloped countries by guaranteeing financial returns on certain investments and conducting surveys of investment opportunities.

Organization and Structure

An independent agency within the Department of State, USAID is headed by an Administrator and Deputy Administrator, both appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Geographic bureaus are responsible for the overall activities in the countries where USAID has programs:
Asia and the Near East
Europe and Eurasia
Latin America and the Caribbean
Sub-Saharan Africa

Functional bureaus conduct agency programs that are world-wide in nature or that cross geographic boundaries:
Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance
Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade
Global Health

There are also certain major headquarters bureaus:
Legislative and Public Affairs
Policy and Program Coordination

In addition to the above bureaus, USAID has several independent agencies that carry out discrete functions for the agency:
Office of Equal Opportunity Programs
Office of the Executive Secretariat
Office of the General Counsel
Office of Security
Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization


On September 4, 1961, Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act, which reorganized the U.S. foreign assistance programs, including separating military and non-military aid. The Act mandated the creation of an agency to administer economic assistance programs, and on November 3, 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the U.S. Agency for International Development. The agency took over the loan activities of the Development Loan Fund, the local currency functions of the Export-Import Bank, the agricultural surplus distribution activities of the Food for Peace program, and the technical assistance operations of the International Cooperation Administration.

The official website of USAID is

See Also

Department of State
President John F. Kennedy

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The Robinson Library >> International Relations

This page was last updated on 09/15/2018.