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U.S. Foreign Assistance to Africa: Claims vs. Reality

Susan E. Rice

“Over the past four years, we have tripled our assistance to Sub-Sahara Africa.” President Bush, Press Conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair, the White House June 7, 2005

The Bush Administration Record

The Bush Administration has significantly increased aid to Africa, but that increase falls far short of what the President has claimed. U.S. aid to Africa from FY 2000 (the last full budget year of the Clinton Administration) to FY2004 (the last completed fiscal year of the Bush Administration) has not “tripled” or even doubled. Rather, in real dollars, it has increased 56% (or 67% in nominal dollar terms). The majority of that increase consists of emergency food aid, rather than assistance for sustainable development of the sort Africa needs to achieve lasting poverty reduction.

President Bush has thus far rejected Blair’s call to double aid to Africa, as well as the benchmark set by the OECD and signatories to the Monterrey Consensus, which called on developed countries to devote 0.7% of their gross national income to overseas development assistance by 2015. In declining to commit to either of these targets, President Bush frequently states that his Administration has “tripled” U.S. assistance to Africa over the past four years to $3.2 billion. On June 7, 2005, the President also announced that the U.S. will spend an additional $674 million, which consists of previously appropriated emergency humanitarian food aid. The U.S. recently agreed with G-8 partners to cancel the multilateral debt owed by 18 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, a positive step forward.


The Challenge

As G-8 member states prepare to meet from July 6th to 8th in Gleneagles, Scotland, they will have to confront the challenge posed by their host, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to double aid to Africa, adding $25 billion annually to the total by 2010. Blair also recommends a further increase of another $25 billion annually to be achieved by 2015 (bringing the global total to $75 billion), preferably through the creation of an International Finance Facility. Part of a sweeping agenda set forth by Blair and his Commission for Africa to alleviate poverty and improve prospects for African security, democracy and sustainable development, this proposal includes scaled-up commitments by the G-8 to assist Africa with increased aid, trade opportunities, investment, debt relief as well as conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping capacity.


What the U.S. Should Do and Why

The Gleneagles Summit poses an historic opportunity for the United States to lead the international community in providing increased development and other assistance to Africa. The Bush Administration should join the UK, France, Italy and Germany and twelve other developed nations and commit to devote up to 0.7% of U.S. gross national income to overseas development assistance by 2015. This commitment would place the U.S. in the forefront of international efforts to alleviate global poverty.

Global poverty undermines U.S. national security by facilitating the emergence and spread of transnational security threats, including disease, environmental degradation, crime, narcotics flows, proliferation and terrorism. First, poverty substantially increases the risk of conflict, which in turn creates especially fertile breeding grounds for such threats. Second, poverty erodes weak states’ capacity to prevent or contain transnational threats.


Key Findings

  • U.S. aid to Africa from FY 2000 to FY 2004, the period to which the President referred, has not “tripled” or even doubled. Rather, in real dollars, it has increased 56% (or 67% in nominal dollar terms).
  • An analysis of actual U.S. appropriations from FY 2000 (the last full budget year of the Clinton Administration) to FY2004 (the last completed fiscal year of the Bush Administration) reveals a different reality about U.S. aid to Africa than President Bush has maintained.
  • In nominal dollars, total United States aid to Sub-Saharan Africa increased from $2.034 billion in FY 2000 to $3.399 billion in FY 2004.
  • In nominal dollars, of the $1.365 billion overall increase, $728.9 million, or 53%, consists of emergency food aid rather than overseas development assistance, which contributes to sustainable development. The remainder of the increase is comprised primarily of funding for the President’s HIV/AIDS initiative (distributed between two accounts, Child Survival and Global Health) as well as emergency and post-conflict assistance to Liberia and Sudan.
  • Actual development assistance, excluding food aid and security assistance, increased only 33% from FY 2000 to FY 2004 in real dollar terms, or 43% in nominal dollars. In nominal dollars, less than $450 million of the increased foreign aid to Africa is official development assistance.
  • Official Development Assistance to Africa (aid programs directed at sustainable development) increased by 43% from FY 2000 to FY 2004. Of these programs (in nominal dollars):

    • Funding for the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund increased by 70%, primarily for HIV/AIDS.
    • Development Assistance funding increased 1% over FY 2000.
    • Global Health and HIV/AIDS Initiative, which did not exist as a separate program in FY 2000, received $263.8 million for Africa in FY 2004.
    • Peace Corps funding increased by 19%.
    • African Development Bank funding increased by 24%.
    • African Development Foundation funding increased by 31%.
    • African Development Fund decreased by 12%.
    • The newly-created Millennium Challenge Account did not exist in FY 2000, and its entire FY 2004 budget went towards administrative expenses rather than country programs.
    • The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt relief funding decreased by 32%.

    View Table I: Total Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa, FY 2000 vs. FY 2004 (PDF—53kb)

    View Table II: Official Development Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa, FY 2000 vs. FY 2004 (PDF—32kb)

    Author

    View Table III: Total Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa, FY 2000 vs. FY 2005 (estimate) (PDF—17kb)

    View Table IV: Total Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa, FY 2000 vs. FY 2005 (estimate) (PDF—9kb)

  • The only programs that both existed in FY 2000 and more than doubled by FY 2004 were Foreign Military Financing, which increased by 109%, and emergency food aid (PL 480 Title II), which increased by 159%.
  • From FY 2000 to FY 2005 (estimated), U.S. aid to Africa will have increased by 78% in real dollar terms or 93% in nominal dollars—not quite a doubling, much less a “tripling” of aid. Of this increase, 50% consists of emergency food aid (PL 480 Title II).
  • Actual development assistance, excluding food aid and security assistance, will have increased an estimated 74% from FY 2000 to FY 2005 in real dollar terms, or 89% in nominal dollars.

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