As the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrates its 60th year, we take this opportunity to reflect on all the ways in which the world is a healthier, cleaner, more democratic, and more prosperous place because of the generosity of the American people. President John F. Kennedy founded USAID in 1961 based on the belief that every person, regardless of where they were born, deserved to live in dignity.
This notion has been at the center of our work since the Agency’s creation, and over the past 60 years we have made extraordinary progress in advancing the human condition around the world. Since its founding, USAID has responded to thousands of natural disasters and humanitarian crises in more than 80 percent of the world, reaching billions of people in desperate need with food, health care, and shelter. From one of USAID’s first major disaster responses, the devastating 1963 earthquake in Skopje, Yugoslavia, to the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 to the 2021 earthquake in southwestern Haiti, USAID’s response to disasters has saved lives, helped rebuild economies, and strengthened resilience to future shocks.
As a result of USAID’s investments in global health, people around the world are living longer, healthier lives. In 1980, USAID’s contributions to research and vaccine development helped eradicate smallpox, making it the first disease to be conquered on a global scale. Since then, USAID has helped nations turn the tide on HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, and assisted many countries in eliminating neglected tropical diseases, improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
USAID programs also bolstered democratic institutions and market-based economies as new waves of democratization swept across the developing world. USAID was instrumental in rebuilding the banking systems in former Soviet satellite countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and today, many of those countries have become strong economic and security partners of the United States. In Timor-Leste, years of USAID assistance led to a significant breakthrough in 2017, when the country held national elections for the first time in its history without international supervision. Our assistance has empowered local leaders, entrepreneurs, and civil society to create their own destinies and chart their own paths to prosperity.
Today, we face compounding challenges that are jeopardizing many of these hard-won development gains, from the COVID-19 pandemic to a warming climate. Across the U.S. government, USAID is uniquely positioned to confront today’s global challenges, whether by vaccinating people against COVID-19, helping nations adapt to and mitigate climate change, shoring up democratic institutions around the world, fighting corruption, addressing increasing humanitarian needs, bolstering global food security, or expanding our global health security efforts. And just as President Kennedy understood the role that foreign aid plays in promoting global peace and stability, President Biden, too, understands how valuable our development assistance is to U.S. foreign policy, cementing this view by elevating the USAID Administrator to become a standing member of the National Security Council.
USAID will continue to build on the progress made over the past six decades, partnering with countries to address the world’s toughest challenges, while demonstrating the best of American values and building the type of goodwill that inspires action and cooperation from our allies. The goals and actions described in this Agency Financial Report are critical to these efforts. We have worked closely with the Office of Inspector General to ensure these financial and summary performance data are complete, reliable, and accurate. The Independent Auditor’s Report, including reports on internal control and compliance with laws and regulations, appears in the Financial Section of this report. The section on Management’s Discussion and Analysis reviews our assessments of our internal controls, risks, and other issues.
The Kennedy Administration created our Agency 60 years ago to build a more equitable, prosperous world, while strengthening America’s economic and national security. While there is much work to do, we continue to answer the call to extend the reach of freedom and dignity to all people.