Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


US Development Policy


Update: Since the original publication of this blog, Where in the World Are US Development Initiatives? has been updated. The new version includes the President’s Malaria Initiative and refines the PEPFAR specification to county operational plans. Some figures within this blog post have been updated to reflect these changes.  

The Rethinking US Development Policy team has launched a new tool: “US Development Initiatives: Where in The World Are They?” This allows users to geographically explore US development policy efforts as well as the quantity of aid commitments, and the magnitude of trade and investment. Do you want to quickly see where OPIC is active? Where the US has a bilateral investment treaty, trade preferences, or a free trade agreement? Or, what are the focus countries for PEPFAR, Feed the Future, or other aid initiatives? With one or two mouse clicks, this new tool will give you the answer.

At the aggregate level, we find that Tanzania and Ghana are involved in more US development initiatives than any other country (12). But, aid flows don’t necessarily follow initiatives. For example, while Kenya participates in six and Pakistan isn’t a part of any major initiatives, they practically tie for fifth place in receiving the most aid. Yet, a country like Ghana is only the 31st largest recipient of US aid. US investment initiatives may tell a similar story. Even though four of the BRICS (not China) are OPIC eligible, tiny Luxembourg has more than twice their total cumulative investment.

One of the map’s messages is a reminder of how US development policy truly spans the globe. It covers every region and practically every country. Some initiatives, such as Power Africa and Partnership for Growth, are focused in just a few countries. While there are benefits for being active in almost every country, would US development policy achieve better results if it had a greater degree of focus in country selection? Or, is the current global footprint still the best approach? These are just a few of the big policy questions that come to mind when exploring this new tool. What strikes you?

Also, we plan to make further improvements and adjustments to this tool over time. In many ways, this very much remains a beta version. So, please send any suggestions to Rob Morello ( about ways to make this better or more applicable to your own interests or efforts. 

We would like to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its generous support that made this tool possible.   


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.