U.S. Aid to Africa Over Time

Many readers of First Tranche told me they liked the cartogram of U.S. aid flows to the rest of the world from 1985-2008. My student, Ashley Ingram, followed up that work with a similar map of Africa for the same time period. I actually like this one better as it allows you to see allocation patterns more clearly.


1. For all of the time series Egypt dominates the map. For much of the time series Egypt and South Africa are among the richest countries in Africa and are getting very large sums of aid from the U.S. government.

2. If you want to see what a "donor darling" looks like, watch the size of Uganda change over time.

3. Countries with the "no value" in terms of reported statistics on GNI per capita are usually closed regimes (Libya in the 80s and 90s) or they are failed states (Somalia and the DRC). Speaking of the DRC, notice how large it gets in the 90s. Lots of money for refugees and internally displaced people.

4. Libya does receive U.S. aid from 2004-2008 (mostly money to dismantle nuclear and other WMD programs, to provide employment for Libyan nuclear scientists, to fund NGOs that publicize corruption with Libya, and to support free press projects as displayed below) but the amounts are quite small. I'm guessing Qaddafi is wishing he had a viable nuclear program right now and that he is not all that thrilled about Libyan NGOs and transparency advocates getting support from the U.S. government to publicize corruption within Qaddafi's regime over the past five years. Given this content, it makes any calls for the U.S. to "cut off aid to Libya" pretty nonsensical. The aid currently being provided by the U.S. to Libya is not the kind of aid most struggling dictators want.

All U.S. aid to Libya search is here...


Thanks Mike,<br /><br />I usually reckon those cartograms are a bit gimmicky and usually make things harder to understand but I agree this one is quite good – especially the way it shows how support changes so rapidly (ie countries usually can’t rely on aid being predictable and longterm).<br /><br />One improvement would be to clearly identify whether the chart is plotting the share of US aid to each country or the volume.<br /><br /><br />Garth Luke<br />World Vision Australia

Garth,<br /><br />Good call. In this case it is share. Every individual year measures volume, but if Egypt's total amount received goes up every year, but its share of total U.S. foreign aid stays the same, then the size of Egypt will stay the same from year to year.<br /><br />If it was just measuring volume then the average size of most recipients would be larger later in the time series as total U.S. aid went up.