The United States and the Government of Ceylon signed a landmark development cooperation agreement in 1956 – five years before USAID was established. Since then, the U.S. Government has been providing development and humanitarian assistance benefitting all Sri Lankans.
To date, the U.S. has invested more than $2 billion to support Sri Lanka’s agriculture, education, health, environment, water, sanitation, infrastructure, governance, and business development and provide humanitarian assistance to people in need.
The partnership has had many achievements through the years, as described in the book 50 Years of Partnership in Sri Lanka. A few highlights:
- 1950s-60s: The U.S. assisted school and maternal feeding programs, provided diesel-powered coaches to modernize Ceylon’s railway, and began to help control and eliminate malaria.
- 1970s: The Accelerated Mahaweli Development Program – among Sri Lanka’s most ambitious development undertakings – drew on USAID assistance in promoting agriculture, rural development, and farm water management, as well as biodiversity protection, reforestation, and watershed management.
- 1980s-90s: USAID provided training and equipment to upgrade and modernize the Colombo Stock Exchange to an international level and was a major catalyst for establishing the Security Exchange Commission.
- 2004: When the tragic tsunami struck, USAID stood strong for Sri Lanka with $135 million in assistance that financed reconstruction of the Arugam Bay Bridge, upgraded fishing harbors, constructed vocational education schools, and more.
- 2000s: USAID made a lasting impact through a locally manufactured prosthetic rubber foot model that helped Sri Lanka, which has one of the highest rates of amputees due to its 26-year conflict, to address the shortage of affordable and high-quality products for rehabilitation services.
- 2000s: USAID partnered with Sri Lankan conglomerates like Cargills, Hayleys, and MAS in the apparel, logistics, and agricultural sectors to support the creation of jobs, jump-start economic growth in economically lagging regions, and promote social integration following years of conflict, leveraging millions in private sector funding to create over 10,000 jobs.