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Our Work: A Better Future For All

We live in an era that has seen dramatic change in recent years -- an era that is rapidly evolving. Globalization, technology, HIV/AIDS, rapid population growth, terrorism, conflict, weapons of mass destruction and failing states -- these are just some of the issues shaping today's world. Most of these issues - both good and bad -- do not recognize national borders. They affect us directly and are dramatically altering the way in which we think and operate.

Photo: Children learning about computers at a technology fair in Senegal

But we still face an uncertain future. In many developing countries, HIV/AIDS and health issues are having a dramatic impact on social cohesiveness and economic strength, blocking the very development goals we seek. Virtually all the new democracies in the world today are fragile; others are democracies more in name than substance. Nearly a quarter of the people living in developing countries, or about one billion people, live in absolute poverty. There are a host of other threats - ranging from terrorism to infectious disease and violent conflict - that challenge us and the developing nations we seek to help.

USAID works in agriculture, democracy & governance, economic growth, the environment, education, health, global partnerships, and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries to provide a better future for all. Please explore the sections listed below to find out more about USAID's work in these areas.

The food that we eat connects each of us to the world of agriculture. Farmers and livestock producers in every country are responsible for most of the supply of food that goes through grocery stores and markets in towns and cities. USAID works with all participants in agricultural development to support efforts to increase productivity.

Democracy & Governance
The idea of democracy is closely linked to the national identity of the United States. Even during the most isolationist periods in our early history, our relatively young country was seen as a shining beacon to individuals and families seeking personal freedoms. Expanding the global community of democracies is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.

Economic Growth & Trade
Almost two-thirds of the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day. Families are hard-pressed, at this level of income, to meet their daily needs for food and shelter. USAID economic growth and trade programs provide support both to government and private sector partners in lower-income countries to improve the levels of income their citizens enjoy.

Growing populations are placing increasing pressure on the natural resources in many countries and many of these resources, once used, are not renewable. USAID takes an integrated approach to natural resources management. Land and water must be managed skillfully so that they are able to maintain our basic ability to produce food for the nine billion people that the world is expected to have by 2050.

Education & Training
The ability to read and write — or literacy — is a basic skill for people to live and work in today’s world. Yet more than 900 million adults are not literate, primarily in developing countries. More than 125 million children who should be in school are not. USAID emphasizes programs of support for basic education and places a special emphasis on improving opportunities for girls, women and other underserved and disadvantaged populations.

Global Health
The USAID’s programs in global health represent the commitment and determination of the US government to prevent suffering, save lives, and create a brighter future for families in the developing world.

Global Partnerships
Since its inception, USAID has worked in cooperation with U.S. and international partners to improve conditions for people around the world. While these partnerships have long been key to USAID's success, this strategy has never been more important than now. USAID is committed to an approach that recognizes and incorporates the efforts of partnership and private giving, focusing on grassroots support, local ownership, sustainability, accountability, and--not least--passion and commitment.

Humanitarian Assistance
The United States gives more to those in crisis than any other country in the world. USAID is the U.S. Government agency that is responsible for directing these contributions to thousands of non-profit partners and international organizations. USAID ensures that all of this assistance is spent in the way that most effectively helps those who are in need.

Cross-Cutting Programs
Some parts of our work are best implemented by working through the Agency's key sectors to implement their goals in a coordinated fashion and to call attention to these issues in each programmatic area. At USAID, these are called cross-cutting programs, and include:
  • Transition Initiatives: Provides fast, flexible, short-term assistance to take advantage of windows of opportunity to build democracy and peace. This program lays the foundations for long-term development by promoting reconciliation, jumpstarting economies, and helping stable democracy take hold.
  • Private and Voluntary Cooperation - USAID has forged critical ties with U.S. Private Voluntary Organizations committed to participating in development. It has used competitive grants and programs to help deliver essential services in underserved communities.
  • Conflict Management - Violence, or the imminent threat of violence, can destabilize a society in ways that traditional USAID programs are often ill-prepared to identify and address. USAID is taking a lead role in designing development assistance programs that better address the causes and consequences of violent conflict.
  • Urban Programs - Few developing cities are prepared for the consequences of rapid growth. USAID's urban programs improve the living conditions of the urban poor while protecting the well-being of future generations.
  • Water - Every ecosystem, society, and individual on Earth depends on water. USAID has made the preservation and environmentally sound development of the world's water resources a top priority.
  • Women In Development - The contributions that women make to the economic, social, and political lives of their nations, communities, families and the next generation make them key actors in effective development. USAID's approach to gender is to design programs that take both women's and men's participation into account.

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