International aid, consisting of resources supplied by one country to another, is critical to save lives, protect livelihoods, and finance reconstruction in communities wracked by war or natural disasters. While it is generally seen as an instrument of development for the poorest countries, wealthy donor nations also frequently provide aid in a manner that economically supports their own domestic industries or their foreign policy agendas.
USAID candidly states, “The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States… Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans.” This pattern is particularly evident in the provision of US food aid. When USAID sells US wheat reserves on behalf of aid recipients and in turn asks recipients to purchase select commodities from US producers, this effectively subsidizes US farmers and undermines food producers in recipient countries.
Working with partner groups around the world, the Oakland Institute is monitoring, researching, and evaluating the practice and impact of international aid on developing countries. We are a research center, information clearinghouse, and early warning system for activists, policy makers, educators, journalists, and the general public. We believe increased awareness about the reality of international aid will lead to aid programs and policies that truly benefit local communities.