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What is Foreign Assistance?

Foreign assistance or foreign aid refers to funding the United States provides to other countries.

Sometimes foreign assistance is given directly to a country’s government either in cash or “in-kind,” meaning physical items such as tents, food, or weapons. But U.S. development assistance is mainly delivered by nongovernmental organizations directly to local communities to address their needs and support their development efforts.

Poverty-focused development refers to foreign assistance that directly affects the lives of hungry and poor people.

In 2007, just over 40 percent of total U.S. foreign assistance went to programs that work in poor communities to immunize children, train teachers, build water wells, schools, and rural roads, and provide agricultural training to help farmers increase their productivity.

These poverty-focused development programs respond directly to the needs of poor people and are usually delivered by trusted providers such as Church World Service, Catholic Relief Services, or World Vision.

Communities receiving the assistance frequently provide input on the design of these programs.

Further Reading

Goals of Foreign Assistance

U.S. foreign assistance has three main purposes: humanitarian, political, and development.

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Impact of Foreign Assistance

U.S. poverty-focused development assistance improves the lives of millions of people around the world.

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Improving Foreign Assistance

Global development and global poverty reduction must be elevated as specific goals in U.S. foreign policy.

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