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Supporting a Continent on the Rise
Today, sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. In 2011, Africa was home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. Foreign direct investment in the continent approaches $80 billion a year, while trade has tripled over the last decade. And since 1989, 20 new democracies have taken root across the region.
Yet, Africa is still home to some of the world’s greatest development challenges. Three out of every four Africans still live on less than $2 a day. Nearly half of all child deaths occur on the continent. And Africa is the only continent where crop yields have stayed stagnant over the last four decades.
Today USAID is supporting its African partners as they confront these challenges and embrace their potential. USAID is focused on:
- Boosting agricultural productivity through the Feed the Future Initiative, by addressing the root causes of chronic hunger and poverty and spurring economic growth in a region with incredible resources and arable land;
- Strengthening health systems through the Global Health Initiative, so that countries can help their children survive, overcome the ancient threat of malaria, give mothers the support they need to give birth safely and turn the tide against the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the continent;
- Supporting democracy, human rights, and good governance, to help governments fight corruption, expand space for civil society, help citizens choose their leadership and strengthen the trend toward democratization in Africa;
- Increasing resilience to climate shocks, by helping communities adapt to erratic rainfall and longer, harsher droughts—weather effects we know will hit Africa hardest; and
- Leading quick responses to humanitarian crises, to save lives and help prevent instability and loss, critical in a region prone to destabilizing droughts and food emergencies.
These efforts reap dividends for both Africa and the United States. As America supports the development of Africa’s economic growth, it can generate new export markets and tap into a common market that will one day outpace India or China. At the same time, the Agency's work in preventing conflict and violent extremism reduces the threat or terrorism and political instability that can threaten U.S. national security. And above all, America's support of democracy, opportunity and freedom from poverty and disease represents this country’s most cherished values.
America's continued commitment to the African people contributes to positive change:
- Child mortality in Africa has dropped by nearly a third over the past 20 years, thanks in large part to U.S. support of vaccine research and distribution.
- The number of people newly infected with HIV is decreasing for the first time since the HIV epidemic struck, a trend driven by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
- Ten African countries, including Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia, reduced the number of malaria cases and deaths by over 50 percent in the last decade, accelerated by the efforts of the President’s Malaria Initiative.
- In 2011, South Sudan overcame two decades of civil war to become the world’s newest country, as a result of a democratic process and referendum USAID helped support.
Last updated: September 13, 2012