History and Structure

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was created by the executive order of John F. Kennedy following the passage of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act (click to download).

Raj Shah (right) stands with USAID official amongst Haiti rubble

Its purpose is to coordinate all foreign aid objectives on behalf of the U.S. government and the American people, but with two particular aims. It serves to (1) further US foreign policy interests by expanding democracy and free markets around the world; and (2) improve the lives of citizens in the developing world.

The agency is housed under the Department of State and directed by an Administrator and Deputy Administrator, both of which are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Rajiv Shah has served as the USAID Administrator since December 31, 2009.  Donald Steinberg serves as the Deputy Administrator.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The U.S. appropriates less than 0.5% of the federal budget–between $20-$26 billion per year–for operations carried out by USAID. The agency currently operates under its FY2007-2012 Strategic Plan. Its latest report on spending is the FY2011 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations.

USAID in Haiti

Source: Palm Beach Post. Haitians outside of Leogane carry bags of soybean enriched wheat donated by USAID. Photo: Lannis Waters.

As of November 19, (click to download Fact Sheet #6, Fiscal Year (FY) 20110) USAID has spent $377,532,765 in humanitarian assistance to Haiti since the earthquake. The Department of State and USAID combined have spent $1,161,829,372.


USAID invested in an election support program worth over $14 million in preparation for the November 28 elections in Haiti. Much of the support has gone to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to cover such expenses as training for those monitoring the polls, the establishment of a CEP press center, and the issuance of accreditation cards to political party representatives.

USG funding has also been used to support:


As of Nov. 19, over 19,000 temporary shelters have been built in Haiti since the earthquake. USAID and OFDA grants supported 9,274 or 48% of these. Below are groups building USAID-funded shelters (see USAID Fact Sheet):

  1. Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED): Produces an average of 26 shelters per day in Léogane. 
  2. CHF International: Plans to produce 1,700 steel-frame shelters in Léogane; 1,200 will have latrines.
  3. International Relief and Development (IRD): Has produced 1,000 shelters in Léogane at a rate of 96 shelters per week.
  4. Catholic Relief Services (CRS): Produced 500 shelters in Port-au-Prince.


In the initial aftermath of the earthquake, USAID shifted many of its health efforts to short-term relief and recovery enterprises. By January 28, 2010, USG had over 270 medical personnel on the ground in Haiti treating up to 1,870 patients per day (see Health Sector Brief).

USAID also launched an extensive food program on January 13, 2010, supplying over 83,020 tons of food worth over $63.7 million (see USAID press release). Food distribution has since stopped as of April 2010 at the request of the Government of Haiti. USAID has since turned to more long-term health sector development, including immunizations and repairs to Ministry of Health infrastructure. These efforts have been interrupted, however, by the outbreak of cholera as of October 2010.


USAID reports that over 18,380 hospitalizations and 1,110 cholera deaths have been reported as of November 14, 2010. Since the cholera outbreak, USAID has begun communication campaigns in Cite Soléil near Port-au-Prince and given over $4.35 million in assistance to treat and prevent the spread of disease. USAID also runs the Training of Trainers program where health care workers are taught to recognize and treat cholera. A Nov. 17 press release states that officials seek to expand to program to train over 400 health care providers in Haiti.


USAID has been working with the Haiti Ministry of Education since 2007 on a program known as PHARE (Programme Haitien d’Appui á la Réforme de l’Éducation). Since the earthquake, USAID has continued to work with PHARE to rebuild classrooms, administer learning kits, and train teachers on how to work with traumatized students.



One of the primary USAID economic initiatives is the Cash-for-Work (CFW) program in which Haitians are employed to work in one of three areas: (1) rubble removal, (2) transition shelter, or (3) water, agriculture, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Jobs in shelter include primarily construction, while those working in WASH assist in the clearing of drainage canals, building latrines, and repairing of irrigation systems.

In total, USAID has spent as much as $19.3 million since June 24, 2010 on programs focused entirely on CFW, and over $53 million on programs that have some CFW component. A more detailed breakdown of CFW programs and partners may be found in the USAID FY 2010 report of CFW programs.  Click here to see a map of all USAID CFW programs in Haiti.

Mobile Banking

In partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID has refocused on a financial project known as Haiti Integrated Finance for Value Chains and Enterprise (HIFIVE) since January. The purpose of the program is to make banking easier by allowing Haitian to access savings through cell phones. The programs is meant to prevent a breakdown in the banking system should another disaster occur.