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In this CGD Note, senior fellow Steve Radelet and research assistant Sami Bazzi offer a close look at the latest U.S. foreign assistance numbers. Bottom line: although America's aid has more than doubled since 2000, the new money went mostly to Iraq, Afghanistan and a small number of debt relief operations; and almost all was allocated through bilateral rather than multilateral channels. Assistance to Africa more than quadrupled from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006 and has been enormously important in funding humanitarian relief and HIV/AIDS programs. But even with the increases, U.S. assistance to Africa still averages less than $9 per African per year. And U.S. assistance for Africa has become less selective: since 2000 the shares going to the poorest countries and to the best-governed countries have fallen.
But Radelet and Bazzi conclude that U.S. assistance to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will likely continue to increase in the next several years. First, disbursements for HIV/AIDS programs are continuing to grow rapidly. Second, the U.S. has introduced a new malaria program that should add to the totals in the near future. Third, MCC disbursements are likely to accelerate in the next several years. If bipartisan support continues for these programs over the next several years without a decline in support for other important existing programs, the U.S. looks likely to succeed in doubling assistance to SSA by 2010.