Where is US Foreign Aid Going?

Most Americans believe the United States gives much more in foreign aid than it actually does.  In reality, the United States spends around $37 billion on foreign aid, which is roughly 1% of the federal budget.

That’s from the brand new ForeignAssistance.Gov, which you could spend hours perusing. The site offers easily accessible information about how that $37 billion is spent.  You can break it down by sector, recipient country, and program area.  So, for example, here is how $780 million in health sector aid was dispersed in 2010:

You can also search by country — say Namibia.  With a few clicks of my mouse, I learn that Namibia received $102.9 million in 2010. $100.8 went toward HIV/AIDS. $2 million for TB. $100,000 for security sector reform (that means things like disarming rebels/training a professional police and military).

This is definitely a tool that could keep researchers and nerds like me occupied for hours. The timing of the website’s launch is also pretty savvy on the part of the Obama administration. Republicans will soon take over control of House of Representatives, which sets the U.S. federal budget. The incoming Chairwoman of theHouse Foreign Affairs Committee has already signaled her intent to slash the $37 billion.

With this website, the public will have a better understanding of exactly where this money will be taken, which, in turn might make these cuts politically more difficult to pull off.  Still, this is great website regardless.  Have fun.