TITLE: USAID: The United States Agency for International Development

Access: http://www.usaid.gov

USAID is "an independent agency that provides economic development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States." With headquarters in Washington, D.C., USAID has field offices around the world, and works in partnership with private voluntary organizations, indigenous organizations, universities, businesses, international agencies, and the like. According to the Web site, USAID has working relationships with more than 3,500 American companies and over 300 U.S.-based private voluntary organizations. It is no wonder that the multitude of reports and features can overwhelm the first-time viewer.

The opening screen presents information organized by means of a Who, What, Where, and How format. The Featured and New and Noteworthy categories provide regularly updated links based on current press briefings, reports, celebrations, and administrative news. At the time of this review, the agency had prominent features on the Afghan Humanitarian Assistance, the USAID response to the drought in Central America, and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Succeeding pages rely on a navigation banner located at the top and bottom of every page, offering links to contact information, news updates, a search engine, and Home. In addition to searching the USAID Public Web, users can access the Development Experience Clearinghouse, an online resource for USAID funded documentation, containing over 110,000 technical and program documents, with over 8,000 reports available for download.

USAID provides assistance in four regions of the world and has a corresponding Web site for each region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Eurasia. These regional pages include timely, news-related links, background information, country and regional profiles and access to statistical data.

Some minor inconsistencies exist with overall navigation, but time and patience eliminate any major flaws. Given the staggering volume and variety of material, it is a site that requires some basic orientation in order to locate specific content. The search options are extensive, and results can be sorted by date/relevance. All levels of users will appreciate the currency of information.

This site is essential for students (high school and above), educators, and anyone interested in the governments foreign policy issues and activities. Food aid, access to basic education and healthcare, and post-war reconstruction are just a few of the missions and programs the agency is involved with. Given the current state of world affairs, the available fact sheets, briefings, situation reports, and recommended links are essential finds.

Gail Golderman
Union College

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