USAID has worked in the Dominican Republic over the past 50 years to meet basic needs of citizens, improve health and education, and strengthen the public and private sector.
Starting in the early 1960s, USAID assistance to the Dominican Republic funded institution building, promoted private investment, and strengthened public and private agricultural institutions. Technical assistance was provided to support public and private investment in education, public administration, tax administration, public safety, health, irrigation, agriculture and rural development, and in the creation of a human resource base in the agriculture sector.
In the 1970s, USAID focused on raising the standard of living and meeting basic needs with health, nutrition, education, family planning, and agriculture projects. USAID promoted trade through regulatory reform and maintenance of market-oriented policies. Agricultural projects focused on diversifying exports, especially non-traditional crops. Environmentally-sound water management policies and practices also became a priority of USAID projects.
USAID’s focus on agriculture in the Dominican Republic continued in the 1980s, through programs that strengthened agribusiness and agriculture policy capacity. In 1985, USAID initiated a program with the Private Enterprise Office and a local NGO providing training and assistance to establish the first free trade zones in the Dominican Republic. These zones are now among the country's major employers, exporters, and foreign exchange producers. The health sector also received important support from USAID during this decade to improve infant and child survival through programs emphasizing oral rehydration therapy, immunization, birth spacing, and nutrition.
The 1990s brought one of the most successful USAID projects to the Dominican Republic, a Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) co-financing project that began in 1990. USAID worked with 17 NGOs to improve economic and social conditions for Dominicans throughout the country in an effort co-founded by USAID, NGOs, and Dominican communities. USAID also began working directly with the Dominican Government and NGOs to address the AIDS epidemic. USAID programs worked to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS infection through public education, emphasizing prevention and contraceptive distribution.
Another challenge facing the country in the 1990s was the need for a more democratic society. USAID funded the Democratic Initiatives project which had three priority areas: an educational program to encourage wide participation in the democratic process; an institutional reform program that sought to modernize the Dominican Government in the areas of electoral reform, the social service sector, and the judiciary system; and data banks and census surveys.
In 1998, USAID responded to the destruction of Hurricane Georges, which significantly damaged 70 percent of the country. USAID relief, short-term recovery, and long-term reconstruction activities totaled $76 million. These funds helped the most affected people recover from the destruction and better prepared them to respond to future disasters at the national and community levels.
Today, USAID works to strengthen governance and build effective, transparent institutions that confront corruption and better serve citizens. Despite the challenges, USAID has had notable successes in supporting the development of laws, policies, and institutions that will sustain our achievements over the long-term in Dominican political, economic, and social systems.
Last updated: February 24, 2014