USAID Celebrates 50th Anniversary

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN | FEBRUARY 1, 2012 – The U.S. Government’s lead agency on foreign assistance and development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), marked its 50-year anniversary since the agency was created through the Foreign Assistance Act signed by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

The celebration in Kabul recognized the contributions made to Afghanistan’s development over the years and concluded with USAID confirming its continued commitment to the people of Afghanistan. Speaking at the event, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker stated: “The U.S. Government, including USAID, will remain in Afghanistan; and as we transition to Afghan-led development, our dedicated staff will continue to serve in both the American and Afghan public’s best interest.”

USAID is proud to be a partner to the joint Afghan-U.S. Government efforts to implement programs that improve lives of Afghan citizens throughout the country. The U.S. Government’s development assistance to Afghanistan began over sixty years ago with the construction of two dams on the Helmand and Arghandab Rivers. From these two dams emerged a broader effort to irrigate and electrify much of southern Afghanistan. Later, U.S. aid shifted from infrastructure projects to technical assistance programs to help develop the skills needed to build a modern economy. The events of the 1980s and 1990s led to a focus on emergency aid, often in the form of health care and education for Afghan refugees.

USAID returned in full to Afghanistan in 2001, and since that time, has partnered with the Afghan people and the Afghan Government to achieve sustainable progress in the realms of democracy, healthcare, economic growth, infrastructure, and education. In the past ten years, USAID’s efforts contributed to a 23 per cent decrease in child mortality, while the access to basic health services in Afghanistan has soared from 9 per cent to 60 per cent. A decade ago, only 900,000 boys and almost no girls were enrolled in schools. Today, more than eight million children are enrolled in schools, 35 per cent of whom are girls.

In 2002, Afghanistan had only 50 kilometers of intact roads, much of them littered with mines. Since then, USAID rehabilitated over 1,800 km of roads. Investments in agriculture to improve agronomic practices, establish farm stores, and improve agricultural inputs, have led to $142 million in sales of horticultural and livestock products, including the export of 15,600 metric tons of high-value fruits. Afghanistan’s customs revenues have grown 400 per cent since 2006.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for 50 years.”