USAID 50th anniversary banner

Featured in the 1986 December edition of Frontlines

“No other program rivals AID’s global accomplishments.  Twenty-five years have given us confidence in people in less developed countries and in our ability to help them solve their problems and live better lives,” Administrator Peter McPherson declared before a National Press Club audience in Washington, D.C., Nov. 12.

In an address marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Agency, McPherson said that AID’s accomplishments are underestimated and misunderstood by the public.

Secretary of State George Shultz cuts AID’s 25th anniversary cake. The cake’s size, according to Administrator Peter McPherson, represents the small budget allocated for AID activities. Photo Credit: USAID

“Foreign aid works,” he said.  “The problem is, too few Americans know how it works.  And, they aren’t going to support a program they don’t know much about, especially when budgets are tight.”

McPherson stressed that foreign assistance is carefully planned to promote peace and prosperity.  “Foreign aid is not a handout, Development of the Third World is an investment that benefits both Americans and the people of developing countries,” he said.

He noted that the assistance that helped to develop the economies of South Korea, Mexico and other countries has substantially benefited U.S. business.   “Mexico, which received $1.7 billion worth of U.S. products in 1983 alone,” he reported.

Economic and political stability is critical to U.S. national security, said McPherson.  “America does best when we have a prosperous, growing world; the Soviets do best when things are in turmoil.” He said responding to a question.

McPherson outlined significant improvements in the quality of life in the Third World that AID has helped to bring about in the past 25 years.  Child mortality has been cut in half, he said.  Today, most children enter primary school, while very few did so in the 1960s.  He also noted that life expectancy has increased by 10 to 20 years in the Third World.

McPherson likened AID’s role in the “Green Revolution” in Asia to the Marshall Plan, which revitalized postwar Europe.  “Twenty years ago, India had a famine of historic proportions.  Without the miracle wheat and rice varieties developed and provided to India with AID’s help, this region would probably still face the risk of famine,” he said.