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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Africa Region

Bureau of Resource Management
April 21, 2011


The history and culture of the United States and Africa are inextricably linked. The United States-African partnership is based on mutual goals: to promote democracy, good governance, and respect for human rights; to achieve peace and security throughout the continent; and to promote economic growth and prosperity for all. Many problems—including narcotics trafficking, climate change, persistent health issues, trafficking in persons, and violent extremism—cross national borders and defy easy solutions. The United States is working to help address these transnational challenges through targeted efforts, such as bolstering African maritime security and supporting the fight against violent extremism through programs like the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism.

Strengthening Democratic Institutions and Promoting Conflict Prevention: The United States works with African governments and civil society organizations to combat corruption, abusive governments, and human rights violations, and to improve budget transparency. Programs focus on encouraging the development of independent judiciaries, strong legislative bodies, independent media, robust civil societies, and transparent elections. The United States emphasizes strengthening the electoral infrastructure and collaborating with African governments at all levels to provide credible service delivery to their populations. The past eight years have seen the end of several major conflicts in many countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, North-South Sudan, Burundi, and Angola. In northern Uganda, most of the 1.8 million internally displaced persons have returned to their homes as a result of enhanced local development and security. Despite these successes, Africa’s stability is threatened by ongoing conflicts in Somalia and Darfur, and fragile peace in several other countries, requiring continued vigilance and engagement.

Providing Food and Emergency Aid: Poor governance and conflict contribute to the need for extensive food and non-food emergency assistance across Africa. The President’s Feed the Future initiative will provide substantial support for agricultural development and food security. Africa’s humanitarian needs are likely to continue to escalate without sustained political and economic improvements, and the anticipated doubling of Africa’s population by 2050 to 1.8 billion will increase demands for food aid.

Investing in Healthcare: The ravages of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other health challenges continue to tax Africa’s weak health systems. The United States has a long tradition of providing support for countless health interventions, including treatment for millions of AIDS patients, bed nets to prevent malaria, training skilled birth attendants to decrease maternal mortality, and supporting vaccination campaigns to prevent childhood death. The President’s Global Health Initiative continues these activities while focusing on the health of women and girls, integrating services to cover the complete spectrum of health needs, and strengthening health systems. U.S. Government health programs have made significant contributions, including reducing mortality among children under 5 by 14 percent since 1990.

Promoting Sustainable Economies: Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth in real per capita income continued to grow from over 3 percent in 2009 to close to 5 percent in 2010, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) data. The IMF also notes that growth in 2011 could reach as high as 5.5 percent. Over the coming year, the United States will continue to focus on supporting Africa’s entrepreneurs to transform the continent’s natural endowments into prosperity for its people, and encourage domestic reforms to support small and medium-sized businesses using development assistance as a catalyst. Countries in the region are committing to reform agendas that make it easier to do business. Through the President’s Global Climate Change initiative, climate change programs in Africa focus on adaptation, energy, and landscapes, and address the areas in which the effects of climate change will be the most pronounced: food security, health, and social and political stability.

Photo showing the head of Nigeria's Muslim community, Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'adu Abubakar, immunizing a child.


Partnerships in Action—Nigeria: Defeating Polio

Revitalizing the polio eradication program in Nigeria has been an effort since 2008, involving the highest levels of the Nigerian government, USAID, and other donors. USAID made efforts to actively engage traditional and religious leaders in northern Nigeria, educating them on the realities of polio and soliciting their help to dispel untruths about the immunization program. With better case detection and tracking, minimal polio virus transmission has been recorded, with only two confirmed cases in the first four months of 2010 compared to 388 in the same period of 2009. These are the lowest rates found in Nigeria since the inception of the program. To learn more see USAID’s Nigeria Pushes Polio to the Brink.


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