The Economic Support Fund (ESF) account provides economic assistance to advance U.S. political and strategic interests by helping countries meet political, economic, and security needs. ESF addresses needs through a range of activities, including increasing the private sector’s role in the economy; assisting in the development of effective, accessible, and independent legal systems; supporting transparent and accountable governance; and empowering citizens.
What does it buy?
Funds support trade and capacity building, strengthen independent judiciaries, protect human rights and freedom of the press, combat human trafficking and corruption, increase public accountability access to justice, and protect civil society activists and journalists.
Why is it important?
ESF funds are used to finance both short- and long-term efforts to counter terrorism, encourage greater private sector economic engagement, and strengthen justice systems in target countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, and Egypt.
Programs protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities living in developing countries.
ESF facilitates direct communication between individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds in countries affected by civil strife and war, including the Middle East and North Africa.
ESF is also used to fund other global programs, improve energy sectors, promote human rights, and address the threats caused by climate change.
The Economic Support Fund provides economic assistance to advance U.S. political and strategic interests by helping countries meet political, economic, and security needs.
Why should Americans care?
ESF programs promote bedrock American values. They support developing countries’ efforts to achieve economic and political self-determination and realize individual rights.
Stable democracies are good for business—corruption and poor governance fuel economic instability. Investments in these programs ensure better worldwide market stability allowing American businesses to thrive and expand their investments.
Programs supported by these funds promote systems and structures to prevent conflicts that could require costly military interventions.
As COVID-19 has inflamed instability in already tense political environments, the work supported by the Economic Support Fund will require further investments following the crisis.
What more could be done?
Additional funding could enable the U.S. Government to better respond to the root causes of conflicts that drive increasing humanitarian need around the world and contribute to greater stability in countries of strategic interest to the U.S., including Jordan, Iraq, and Colombia.
Additional funds could help combat food insecurity worldwide. Combined with the Development Assistance account, ESF supports Feed the Future, which alleviates food insecurity by building stronger food systems.
ESF funds support better governance and greater civil society participation in some of the world’s most fragile countries. Increased funds could decrease the likelihood of preventable violence.
Additional funds could strengthen efforts in fragile contexts where economic instability and hunger cause fragile environments to worsen.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.