The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, is the lead agency for all U.S. non-military foreign aid. Whether it be disaster relief, technical or capital assistance support, population planning, building education and vocational training systems, or helping to stabilize economies and develop good governance, USAID coordinates U.S. government aid in partnerships with host governments, private sector, and civil society. To carry out its work, USAID has offices in most recipient countries, works with its partners, and develops its programs based on the needs of and in consultation with the host country.
The ultimate objective of U.S. development assistance to any country is to help that country reach the point where it can execute its own development efforts without USAID assistance.
Due to the government of Panama’s strong economic growth and commitment to development, USAID has determined that Panama no longer needs USAID assistance. On June 12th, U.S. and Panamanian officials held a ceremony celebrating the closure this September of the USAID office in Panama.
“To reach the point that our partner countries can execute their own development efforts without our assistance means we did our job,” said USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Mark Feierstein.
During their 50-year collaboration, USAID partnered with the government of Panama to build more than 100 schools; preserve the Panama Canal watershed; establish outreach centers for at-risk youth; provide higher education scholarships; construct roads in the Darien region; establish the Ministries of Housing and Agriculture; and form numerous local organizations.
“Closing the USAID office signals that the means, capacity and commitment to development are strong enough in Panama for us to devote precious resources elsewhere,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.
“As President Obama has said, the purpose of development is to create the conditions where foreign assistance is no longer necessary. ... USAID is proud of what we have accomplished in partnership with Panama and we strive for more transitions in our own hemisphere and around the world.”