This year marks the 50th anniversary of U.S.-Bangladesh relations. Since gaining independence over fifty years ago, Bangladesh has made extraordinary progress, said U.S. Agency for International Development Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman. “Today,” she said, “Bangladesh is a model for emerging countries worldwide and a critical strategic partner for the United States.”
USAID is committed to building on its legacy of development work in Bangladesh. Over the past five decades, USAID has contributed more than $7 billion in development and humanitarian assistance to the south Asian nation. This assistance, among other things, has helped alleviate poverty, drive rapid economic growth, improve food security, cut maternal and child mortality, electrify rural populations, and foster development and growth through clean energy.
Bangladesh recognized early on that investing in women is investing in its country’s success. Between 1990 to 2020, Bangladesh’s female labor force more than doubled and women as a proportion of the Bangladeshi workforce has grown steadily year after year. USAID has provided leadership skills and development training for tens of thousands of women in ready-made garment factories. USAID is supporting greater opportunities for these women to elevate their career paths from working on the factory floor to management and leadership roles.
To help Bangladesh cope with the COVID-19 pandemic the United States provided nearly $134 million in funding. “This pandemic still looms large,” said Deputy Administrator Coleman, “and our work is far from over.” During the past year, USAID has supported the delivery of more than 61 million U.S.-donated vaccines, assisting the government of Bangladesh to fully vaccinate over 95 million people.
“Our decades-long partnership to improve public health is especially remarkable,” said Ms. Coleman, “as we recall that Bangladesh has cut maternal and child mortality by two-thirds over the last 50 years.”
Thanks to the rapid and widespread economic growth that Bangladesh has seen in recent decades, the country has been selected to progress beyond Least Developed Country status and is now on track to become an upper-middle income country by 2031.
Bangladeshis have proven that they can thrive when they are supported by their leaders. USAID looks forward to continuing to build on this solid foundation for decades to come.