Topics covering about USAID

USAID in Ethiopia
USAID is concerned about Ethiopia’s civil war as the severity of humanitarian assistance needed continues to rise in Tigray, Ethiopia. Millions of civilians are displaced, and health access is critically disrupted across the region. In response to these conditions, USAID in Ethiopia officially launched the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). This team intends to mediate assistance and data analysis to provide much-needed humanitarian aid. Tigrayans continue to endure a civil war that has left millions shackled to poverty, terror and a lack of proper assistance.

Tensions Create a Civil War

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) governs Tigray, the populous region in Northern Ethiopia. TPLF is a large political party that has militarily enforced the autonomy of Tigray for 46 years, as it seeks to make Tigray a separate kingdom. In 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed overtook the election and proceeded to minimize the TPLF’s influence in ruling coalitions. However, federal troops met him with opposition in Tigray. In response, the prime minister launched a domestic law and order operation on TPLF on November 4, 2020. The operation was only set to last for five days. Yet, as tension grew, Ahmed joined military forces with Eritrea to disarm the TPLF troops. Eritrean forces committed the majority of the human rights violations that followed during the five-day operation that turned into a five-month war.

Disaster Assistance Response Team in Ethiopia

USAID in Ethiopia launched DART to assess conditions within the country. The organization reported, “[DART is] identifying priority needs for the scale-up of relief efforts and working with partners to provide urgently-needed assistance to conflict-affected populations across the region.” The population in Tigray is roughly six million. Approximately one million civilians require assistance amid the civil conflict, and four million require urgent food aid. As conditions and access allow, DART conducts humanitarian health programs around the regions. Red Cross assists by distributing medical supplies and essential medicines.

The Stance of Ethiopia’s Government

Some Ethiopians feel deceived by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Since the declaration of war on Tigrayans on November 4, 2020, Ahmed has used Twitter to state his stance against any mediation offers from neutral parties and the international pressure for an inclusive dialogue with all parties involved.

On November 28, 2020, Ahmed tweeted the victory of Ethiopia against the TPLF forces. He stated, “I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the Tigray region.” The Ahmed administration is reportedly rebuilding the region. However, the war has yet to cease. The following are current predicaments since November 4, 2020:

  • Reports of ethnic cleansing and sexual crimes have killed more than 52,000 Tigrayans.
  • Eritrean troops raped and killed in extrajudicial massacres. They also failed to exit Ethiopia following Ahmed’s victory announcement on November 28, 2019.
  • More than 61,300 Tigrayans have fled to Sudan as refugees. Of these refugees, 28% are children, and 4% are elderly.
  • As a result, women and girls reported rape cases and gang rape by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.
  • More than two million children remain cut off from emergency federal humanitarian assistance due to families suspected of TPLF ties.
  • The government concentrates resources on warfare; thus, food, water, electricity and other health benefits are extremely limited.
  • Civilians have limited media access. Reporters and journalists are killed or arrested if they do not abide by laws set by the nation.

Progress of USAID

DART has monitored the conditions in Tigray with uplifting progress. The U.N. reports that 16% of Tigray’s hospitals are functioning. Of those functioning, 22% offer vaccination services. Thus, by increasing analysis and focus on critical areas, DART has successfully secured numerous smaller regions in Tigray. Prime Minister Ahmed requested that the Eritrean troops evacuate Tigray due to increased rates of gender-based violence which generated concern for USAID relief workers. Food also remains a critical issue. Other relief organizations, such as the Catholic Relief Services, contribute food and other commodities, in addition to assistance from USAID in Ethiopia.

Ayesha Swaray
Photo: Flickr

USAID’s PATTA ProgramFarming plays a dominant role in the national economy of Pakistan. With a population of more than 200 million, Pakistan is heavily reliant on agriculture to provide food for people. Agriculture contributes almost 20% to Pakistan’s GDP, and as of 2019, employs more than 40% of the workforce. Smallholder farms are often at a disadvantage as they have limited access to improved technology, which prevents them from producing high yields of crops. To combat this issue, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded the Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity (PATTA), an initiative designed to increase Pakistani farmers’ access to improved agricultural technology. USAID’s PATTA program is also designed to encourage private sector investment in agriculture to increase incomes and efficiency.

Agriculture in Pakistan

Despite the overwhelming need to preserve the agricultural sector, the industry has seen a decline in productivity over the years. Pakistan is especially vulnerable to environmental degradation and instances of water shortages and extreme temperature fluctuations have severely damaged the country’s ability to produce enough crops to feed its populace. As a result, Pakistan stands to benefit from the advancements in agricultural technology. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), these improved technologies can aid in improving agricultural productivity by 70% by the year 2050.

The PATTA Program

To assist Pakistani farmers with obtaining improved agricultural technologies, USAID funds the four-year PATTA program which began in 2017. This program “enables the private sector to give Pakistani farmers access to innovative agricultural products and management practices, which improve productivity and enhance competitiveness.” To facilitate this, USAID introduced the “Agri-Tech Hub” in 2020, a comprehensive suite of agricultural technologies with the potential to change the lives of farmers. The PATTA program encourages  private sector investment in Pakistani agriculture “to commercialize the types of agricultural technologies that enable smallholders to increase their incomes, create jobs and enhance economic growth and stability.”

Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) is an agricultural organization that is also involved with the PATTA program. This organization assists agricultural technology businesses in expanding their markets by doing cost-benefit analyses as well as creating strategies on how these businesses can provide technical support and build capacity for small farmers. Additionally, the CNFA sets up demonstration events in which businesses can display the effectiveness of their products. These events often use different mediums such as radio and the internet in order to reach many different groups of people. Overall, the CNFA is involved in every step of the PATTA program. The CNFA helps agribusinesses market their technologies effectively while making sure farmers can get their specific needs met.

PATTA’s Impact During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had dramatic impacts on agricultural production around the world. In Pakistan, PATTA has been assisting local governments in raising awareness of safety protocols through digital communication. For example, during the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, PATTA partnered with the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s agriculture department in developing “tele-farming advisory services on agricultural technologies” through SMS and robocalls to deliver pertinent information to farmers.

PATTA has also utilized the radio in order to spread its messages. From May to July 2020, PATTA encouraged the use of agricultural technologies via radio broadcast to 23 selected districts across Pakistan, reaching approximately three million people. The use of digital communications allowed for social distancing as the pandemic prevented conventional meetings from taking place.

USAID’s PATTA program helps farmers acquire improved technologies in order to increase their crop yields. By engaging with the private sector, PATTA assists both agribusinesses and farmers in expanding. The concrete outcomes of the program are yet to be released, but nonetheless, it is clear that agricultural technologies have the potential to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers and reduce poverty in Pakistan.

– Nikhil Khanal
Photo: Flickr

Pakistani Flood ReliefWhen the Indus River flooded Pakistan in 2010, the effects were widespread and devastating. Among those that were hit hard were Pakistani children whose schools were severely affected by the flooding. It is estimated that the floods destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 schools. Fast forward 11 years later, however, USAID has announced a major milestone in the now eight-year-long Pakistani flood relief project called the USAID-Sindh Basic Education Programme. USAID reports the completion of 106 schools in Sindh, a province stricken by flood damages.

The 2010 Indus River Floods

The Indus River floods in July and August 2010 were a result of massive monsoon rains causing severe flash flooding in Pakistan. The floods were estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than one million homes and affected more than 20 million people in the region. The impact was felt in just about every area of life in Pakistan.

Industries like farming and healthcare were severely hurt by the floods. Farmers were estimated to have lost millions of acres of usable land and more than a million livestock. Additionally, more than 500 hospitals or clinics in the region were reportedly damaged or destroyed.

On top of this, data from UNICEF in 2010 indicated that more than 1.6 million children either saw their schools damaged by floodwaters or converted into shelters. The massive displacement of children even resulted in fears of a rise in militia kidnappings at the time.

In total, the economic impact of all of that damage done by the floods was estimated as a loss of $43 billion.

USAID’s Pakistani Flood Relief

USAID has given more than $159 million toward education relief following the flood, with $81 million of the funding put directly toward the construction of new schools in northern Sindh. The money helped facilitate the completion of 106 schools, with 14 additional schools targeted to be finished by 2023. The schools will help serve more than 50,000 students in Sindh whose schools were affected by the flood.

These new schools have been built with the inclusion of elements like laboratories and computers in order to turn them into templates for the kind of high-quality educational standard that can hopefully be provided to other areas in the country in the future.

The State of Pakistan’s Education System

Despite efforts, Pakistan’s education system still faces challenges. According to UNICEF, just 56% of Pakistani children between the ages of 5 and 16 are currently in school. This means the country has more than 22 million children in this age range out of school, making Pakistan the country with the second-most out-of-school children in the world.

Additionally, significantly fewer children are enrolled in secondary school compared to primary school and significant gaps exist in overall schooling services. Socioeconomic gaps, for example, are prevalent in areas like Sindh where only 48% of the most impoverished children in the region are in school.

In other regions like Balochistan, significant gender gaps have emerged. Only 22% of girls are in school in the region. This reflects an overarching gender problem which can be seen in the disproportionate number of boys compared to girls in the education system as a whole.

Nevertheless, USAID’s newly completed schools as part of the Pakistani flood relief efforts represent the start of positive progress being made in the country’s education system. With each and every effort, Pakistani children are given an opportunity to rise out of poverty.

Brett Grega
Photo: Flickr

Victims of Agent Orange
Countless Vietnamese people fell victim to the Vietnam War, which devastated Vietnam for two decades. Millions not only fell victim to conventional weapons of war, but millions have also suffered from the unconventional methods of that war, namely herbicidal warfare. Decades later, the United States government is working toward rectifying that wrong by assisting those who have suffered from the gas. Primarily, the U.S. is working through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by providing restitution for victims of Agent Orange.

Herbicidal Warfare

The Vietnam War has its roots in post-World War II when Vietnam temporarily split into two separate entities. Communist guerillas controlled the North, while the French Backed Emperor Bao Dai controlled the South. As the conflict between the two grew, the French became further entwined in the conflict, eventually leading the fight. Although a small, largely untrained force, the communist group, led by the charismatic leader Ho Chin Minh, successfully fought the French, winning the decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Both sides signed the treaty at the Geneva Conference in 1954 and created an officially split Vietnam with promises of a nationwide election and reunification in 1956.

Although U.S. involvement in Vietnam was initially marginal, the CIA provided training and equipment to the South government, then controlled by Ngo Dinh Diem. Afterward, the U.S.’s involvement quickly escalated. After the torpedoing of two U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, the United States began bombing campaigns and eventually deployed over 2.7 million soldiers throughout the war.

Agent Orange in the Vietnam War

The war officially lasted from 1955 to 1975, and over the two decades, nearly 3 million Vietnamese died, 2 million of whom were civilians. Although conventional warfare was primarily responsible for these deaths, herbicidal warfare provided its contributions. The United States dropped 20 million gallons of herbicides across the country, subjecting over 4 million Vietnamese to the toxic compounds. Primarily, the U.S. government used Agent Orange, an orange herbicide comprising two different types of herbicides, 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T, containing the poisonous chemical compound dioxin.

Although the U.S. stopped using dioxin in 1971, Agent Orange has had disastrous effects on the Vietnamese population. Everything from multiple forms of cancers, congenital disabilities, soft tissue sarcomas and peripheral neuropathy links to Agent Orange. The effects are widespread. Of the 4.8 million people across Vietnam that have had exposure to the herbicide, 3 million are suffering deadly diseases as a result. Tragically, the herbicide spans generations as many born two generations removed from the conflict suffer from congenital disabilities and health problems directly from Agent Orange. The lifespan of dioxin is complicated, but in human bodies, it can last up to 20 years, while it can last more than 100 years in sediments of bodies of water. It has contaminated soil, water supplies and food.

United States Liability

Although the U.S. government has provided over $197 million in payments to Vietnam veterans, providing restitution to Vietnamese citizens has been more complicated. The U.S. government has yet to apologize or accept responsibility for the after-effects of the herbicide. Even so, for the sake of strong bilateral ties with the U.S., much of the blame has gone to the chemical companies involved in the production of Agent Orange. However, companies insist that the responsibility falls on the U.S. government.

Vietnamese organizations have made multiple attempts to receive financial reparations for the Agent Orange that the U.S. used during the war. In 2004, a Vietnamese group sued over 30 companies involved in the production and manufacturing of Agent Orange; they alleged that the chemical agent’s use constituted a war crime. A Brooklyn district court dismissed the case in 2005.

Restitution in Vietnam

Nevertheless, as Vietnam and the U.S. improve their bilateral relations through USAID, the U.S. has taken on the initiative to help clean up the residual dioxin. In 2019, national security advisor Robert O’Brien announced that over $110 million of the USAID budget would go toward cleaning up the primary site for the storage of Agent Orange during the war, Bien Hoa Airbase Area. The joint project between USAID and Vietnam’s Air Force Air Defense Command will take up to 10 years. USAID is building upon the successful 2018 project with the Vietnamese government to clean up the area around the Da Nang Airport.

More so, it is providing relief for the victims of Agent Orange. The Obama Administration started this with the Trump Administration continuing the program. Afterward, the Biden Administration renewed the program. The U.S. Agent Orange/Dioxin Assistance to Vietnam report from the Congressional Research Service claims that aid for health-related services and assistance began being appropriated to USAID to use in Vietnam in 2009 but has continued with the dedication of a total of $94 million for just health-related services since 2011. Each year, the total has increased, apart from 2011 and 2013 when it dropped by $200,000. The most recent appropriations came in December 2020, dedicating $14.5 million to health-related activities. However, the majority of the appropriations went toward funding medical infrastructure and capacity building.

Looking Forward

More recently, USAID has moved to direct assistance. In April 2019, USAID announced a memorandum of intent to support people with disabilities. Shortly after, USAID set up staff in the country to collect information to understand the problem better. With this knowledge, the organization announced a grant to fund initiatives to improve the quality of life for those dealing with dioxin’s adverse effects. As Xuan Dung Phan describes it, “USAID will work with local NGOs to provide hospital-based/home-based rehabilitation, palliative care, home modifications, training, personal assistance services and assistive products.”

Although the U.S. government has refused to accept responsibility, through USAID, it has provided life-changing service for the millions of Vietnamese dealing with the residual consequences of its Agent Orange spraying during the Vietnam War. Thus, USAID is providing restitution for victims of Agent Orange.

– Vincenzo Caporale
Photo: Flickr

Surjer Hashi NetworkBangladesh is a country in South Asia with a population of 163 million people. As a developing country, Bangladesh struggles to provide adequate healthcare for such a large number of people. The problem particularly brings challenges for people from rural and marginalized communities, who often cannot access quality health services. To combat this issue, the Surjer Hashi Network has been established. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it is a network of hundreds of health facilities throughout the country. The facilities bring free or reduced-cost healthcare to low-income populations in Bangladesh while simultaneously bringing the country closer to achieving universal healthcare.

Healthcare in Bangladesh

Despite Bangladesh’s current struggles to provide a reasonable level of healthcare for its citizens, the country has made significant progress over the past few decades. Certain indicators have seen improvements such as maternal and infant mortality. Furthermore, the rate of vaccinations for children has increased dramatically, with the percentage of tuberculosis vaccinations for children under 1 increasing from 2% in 1985 to 99% in 2009. While the developments are a good sign, Bangladesh still faces many challenges in maintaining its healthcare system. For instance, the country suffers from a severe shortage of healthcare workers. As of 2009, only about one-third of the country’s facilities have at least 75% of qualified staff working in healthcare and 36% of health worker positions are vacant.

The ineptitude of Bangladesh’s governmental structure and the inability of its institutions to carry out its policies cause problems. The healthcare system is concentrated in urban areas even though 70% of the population lives in rural areas. Meanwhile, careless management obstructs the allocation of resources. Healthcare workers suffer from high turnover and absenteeism while maintenance of facilities is poor. Meanwhile, rural Bangladeshis often forego formal healthcare due to a lack of access in the communities. As a result, only a quarter of the population uses public healthcare.

The Surjer Hashi Network

USAID backs the Surjer Hashi Network of health clinics aiming at serving low-income and other underserved communities in Bangladesh. With 399 facilities nationwide, the network serves at least 16% of the population. In just a five-year period, USAID helped the Surjer Hashi Network prevent 2,000 maternal deaths and 10,000 child deaths. The facilities provide communities with proper healthcare in remote and underserved areas. Rural women, in particular, have benefited as the Surjer Hashi Network of clinics provides for reproductive health and child care.

Universal Healthcare in Bangladesh

In 2018, USAID started the Advancing Universal Health Coverage (AUHC) program, which has allowed the Surjer Hashi Network to remain operable in the long term. The program has consolidated the hundreds of clinics in the network into a centrally managed organization and it has introduced new business models aimed at keeping costs down and expanding health services. The efforts will ensure that clinics in the Surjer Hashi Network will be financially independent while providing high-quality and affordable healthcare for the disadvantaged.

As its name suggests, the AUHC’s goal is to achieve universal healthcare in Bangladesh. Through the Surjer Hashi Network, USAID is ensuring that Bangladesh can provide healthcare coverage for as many people as possible with healthcare facilities that are accessible in rural areas as well.

Nikhil Khanal
Photo: Flickr

Reconstruction in HaitiHaiti is a country in the Caribbean with a population of 11.2 million. In 2010, more than 200,000 Haitians died in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that also destroyed much of the country’s properties and infrastructure. Destruction from the earthquake has since been compounded by other natural disasters, unrest and disease outbreaks. The United States allocated USAID funding for reconstruction in Haiti back when the crisis first developed. In April 2021, a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines how effective this aid was in helping Haiti recover. The report analyzes $2.3 billion of aid over the course of 10 years. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, believes that this report will help identify which U.S. development projects best help Haitian people. In turn, this report has the potential to shape how U.S. aid in Haiti changes going forward.

Overview of Past Aid

The GAO found that USAID dispersed 89% of the total allocated aid to Haiti, with a canceled project to build a new port accounting for much of the remaining portion. In addition to operating expenses, the funding spent on Haiti fell into several categories. Health and disabilities as well as economic and food security made up the majority of spending at a combined 60%. Cholera outbreaks and droughts made these two sectors a high priority for funding. However, the aid that helped Haiti recover from cholera and food insecurity means a smaller portion of USAID funding focused on the physical infrastructure needed for reconstruction in Haiti.

Future USAID Projects

The U.S. Government continues to allocate aid in support of Haiti. Three months before the GAO  published the April 2021 report, the  United States announced additional developmental assistance aid to Haiti worth almost $76 million. U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison, commended the work USAID has done so far in advancing health, education, food security and Haiti’s economy. Future projects through the most recently allocated aid will attempt to further progress.

In April 2020, the U.S. committed $16.1 million to exclusively address the COVID-19 outbreak in Haiti. Due to the urgent nature of crisis outbreaks in Haiti, the U.S. Government developed a rapid aid response for the country’s most pressing needs.

The World Bank

Other development agencies also responded directly to the relief required as a result of the earthquake. The World Bank responded to Haiti’s crisis by forming the Infrastructure and Institutions Emergency Recovery Project. This gave special attention to rebuilding vital institutions and infrastructure as part of reconstruction in Haiti. The overall aim was to benefit long-term recovery. These reconstruction activities helped more than 1.1 million Haitians as of May 2019. While the $11.3 billion required to reconstruct the damage from the earthquake far eclipses USAID funding for Haitian aid, the United States can more effectively impact this process by shifting the focus of aid.

The Road Ahead

More than 10 years ago, the country of Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake and USAID formed an aid relationship to assist in the country’s recovery. Since then, the U.S. Government involved itself heavily in improving Haiti’s dire needs when new crises emerge. Through the efforts of the United States and other fundamental organizations, significant progress has been made with regard to reconstruction in Haiti. Further efforts will build the foundation for more long-term recovery.

Viola Chow
Photo: Flickr

USAID's Self-Reliance Framework
In 2017, under then-administrator Mark Green of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), USAID reorganized its mission of development and aid. In a break from the past, administrator Green initiated a fundamental reorganization. He proposed a mission of providing aid for the very purpose of eventually ending any reliance or need for developmental and humanitarian assistance offered by USAID. Understanding USAID’s self-reliance framework begins with understanding USAID’s mission and new measurement system to end the need for international aid.

Purpose of USAID’S Mission

While USAID’s capabilities and knowledge have not changed, its beliefs about its mission and approach have. In the words of its policy framework, “This approach marks a new direction for USAID, but draws on our deep experience and the lessons we have learned.” Illustrating its shift in thinking, USAID explains its assistance is most effective and compassionate when strengthening its partners’ abilities to provide for themselves and their citizens.

Looking forward to the future, the journey to self-reliance (J2SR) expresses recognition of two opportunities. It works to see the possibility for ending the need for foreign assistance by pointing to the fall in global poverty, improvements in health infrastructure, greater gender parity and safety across the globe. In addition, it also points to continuing barriers and moving challenges impeding progress and self-reliance.

USAID’s Measurement System

Subsequently, helping USAID in ending the need for foreign assistance is a set of concretely defined concepts and measurable figures. They address USAID’s full reorientation towards its mission statement of “ending the need for foreign assistance.”

As a keystone metric, self-reliance gains its weight through the measurement of two factors. The first is capacity. This acts as a measurement of a given country’s capacity to deal with its own developmental challenges. The second is commitment. This measures a country’s demonstration of commitment to using efficacy, inclusivity and accountability when dealing with challenges.

Moreover, USAID selected capacity and commitment for their efficacy in solving three fundamental developmental problems. These include improving productivity and sustainable expansion, equitable distribution of goods to raise well-being and deciding how to share resources fairly and legally. Positive improvements in these three challenges ultimately contribute to the greatest possible gains to set countries moving toward self-reliance.

Congressional Oversight

However, USAID’s J2SR pathway is not without concern. In the same report by the Congressional Research Service, the authors described the 17 indicators as ‘reflective’ of a sweeping theory of development long debated. They explained that the chosen indicators connect to theories that economic growth comes from democratization and open markets.

For instance, the “Trade Freedom” indicator comes from a theory that developing countries must lower trade barriers in order to achieve prosperity. This theory has undergone hot debate. The CRS also notes that the previously mentioned metrics have been worrying to commentators due to the fact that some might use them as excuses to cut aid.

The 17 Metrics

The self-reliance pathway includes 17 unique third-party metrics. These help in determining the degree of a partner country’s commitment or capacity metric. The 17 metrics serve as target goalposts for USAID initiatives and projects. In turn, they guide and measure a country in the metrics of self-reliance.

In the words of a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on Transformation at USAID, these 17 metrics help to quantify a country’s progress toward ending its need for foreign assistance and have been selected for its “perceived alignment with the self-reliance concept, the reputation of reporting institutions, public availability of the underlying data and methodology, comparability across countries, and comprehensiveness of reporting across countries.”

Understanding USAID’s Self-Reliance Framework

Above all, USAID’s Self-Reliance Framework intends to guide USAID’s programmatic approach to aid. This includes defining and outlining projects and determining a nation’s end state with respect to USAID’s assistance to it. In conclusion, the journey to self-reliance seeks to better serve the U.S. public while advancing individual countries towards greater self-autonomy and independence.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

USAID programs in Kenya
Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development in 1961. Kennedy’s goal was to spearhead the United States’ international development and humanitarian initiatives. Additionally, the highest executive position is the Administrator of the USAID. This position’s responsibilities include executing foreign aid programs under the guidance of the President. Furthermore, the Administrator of the USAID selects members of the President’s cabinet and the State Department. USAID coordinates with different levels of the United States government. As a result, this agency often works closely with the State Department to achieve common goals. USAID programs in Kenya also contribute to the global economy and aid in alleviating global poverty.

USAID’s mission statement is to dedicate itself to the promotion of democratic values in its works and advance freedom and prosperity. As such, USAID is well-integrated into the United States’ foreign policy vectors and gives perspective in improving the lives of many in the developing world.

Mark Green is the most recent non-acting Administrator for USAID since 2017. USAID’s agenda underwent reorientation and Administrator Mark Green’s tenure resulted in the reframing of its definition of foreign assistance. Journey to Self-reliance is a new policy that emerged to reforge all existing USAID policies and strategies.

USAID’s Program Cycle’s policies and decisions reinforced its initiatives. In addition, an evaluative set of processes regarding a structured cycle of self-examination, planning, implementation and re-examination of outcomes helps countries become more self-reliant.

USAID Today in Kenya

USAID programs in Kenya have been making a difference for more than 60 years. Kenya received $540 million in aid from USAID in the 2019 fiscal year. Thus, this ranks Kenya as the fourth most-funded African country. As a result, USAID programs in Kenya provide more than the average $144 million funding that these regions typically receive. The HIV/AIDS sector receives the greatest amount of aid from USAID. It contributes a total of $260 million.

Kenya’s performance scores of self-reliance lag behind the average low and middle-income countries. However, Kenya surges ahead in having an open and accountable government. Yet, Kenya’s safety and security rates at 33 points out of 100. This is significantly lower than the statistical average. Thus, the nation’s lowest-performing index is the poverty rate. Kenya’s poverty rate is a mere 14 out of 100, whereas the statistical average rests at 44.

USAID Programs’ Focuses

USAID programs in Kenya have three primary focuses. First, it aims to effectively implement governmental devolution. This requires devolving the powers of the central government to regional bodies. Second, it aims to strengthen the health and human capacities of Kenyans. Lastly, it has the goal of driving environmentally sustainable economic growth.

Kenya’s economy is the largest and most diverse economy in all of East Africa. It serves as an important trading hub for the African continent. However, agriculture makes up the backbone of Kenya’s economy today. Agriculture provides an obvious pathway for economic development and poverty reduction. Furthermore, agribusiness accounts for roughly 40% of Kenya’s overall workforce and roughly a quarter of its annual GDP.

As an example of the United States government’s integrated approach to foreign aid, USAID’s Feed the Future initiative is currently improving social, business and human health in Kenya by increasing productivity and income. Moreover, its greater agenda is to develop a more effective and sustainable agricultural future.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

involvement in the war in YemenPresident Biden announced his plan to end all U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen in February 2021. The President stated the U.S. will take on a mediator role with a focus on ending the war instead. This reversal is one of many steps Biden feels will serve as a course correction for U.S. foreign policy. The Trump administration and many others prior have often taken the side of foreign authoritarian leaders all for the sake of stability. This has only aggravated the humanitarian crises in conflict-riddled countries like Yemen. The U.S. is working to remedy its contribution to the dire state of war-torn Yemen.

Effects of the War in Yemen

The military conflict created mass instability throughout the country of Yemen. As a result, Yemen experienced extreme poverty, starvation, violence and the displacement of millions of people. Thus, the situation in Yemen has been labeled as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. More than 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes more than 12 million vulnerable children.

About 4.3 million people have lost their homes due to displacements. Additionally, more than 230,000 people have died as a result of the consequences of war and conflict in Yemen. This includes more than 3,000 children. Furthermore, more than 20,100 airstrikes have been conducted on Yemen. The Obama administration conducted an estimated 185 airstrikes over eight years while the Trump administration conducted nearly 200 in four years. These attacks contributed to more than 17,500 deaths and injuries. Moreover, the airstrikes have destroyed schools, hospitals, water wells, civilian homes and other essential infrastructure.

USAID in Yemen

While the U.S. has played a significant role in creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, the nation is also the leading contributor of foreign aid to Yemen. According to the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), the U.S. has provided more than $1.1 billion of foreign aid to Yemen since 2019. This aid has provided funding for food, shelter, medical care and other essential resources. In addition, USAID states that the U.S. allocates funding for development initiatives that focus on helping put the country on a stable path to recovery and prevent continued dependence on humanitarian aid.

The U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen is shifting from tactical to mediation. This is putting the nation on the path to recovery. Furthermore, the end of the war benefits Yemeni civilians and the U.S. economy. As the U.S. is pulling out of the offensive efforts, the foreign aid provided to Yemen can be fully utilized.

President Biden emphasizes the importance of this decision in his foreign policy address, stating, “this war has to end.” He decided to take a step in the opposite direction of the last two administrations, including the Obama administration in which he served as vice president. Additionally, President Biden claims this decision to be one of many in a plan to restore U.S. emphasis on diplomacy, democracy and human rights.

Kendall Couture
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in SomaliaSomalia is one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world, plagued by frequent violence, widespread food insecurity and natural disasters. To address the nation’s incredibly precarious situation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programs in Somalia are expansive and well-funded. USAID programs in Somalia aim to provide humanitarian relief and reduce poverty in the area.

Causes of Poverty in Somalia

Droughts are partly responsible for the severe food insecurity in Somalia. From 2011 to 2019, Somalia experienced a devastating drought. The drought was so severe that it was even given a name, Sima. When it first started, it triggered a famine that killed 250,000 Somalians. In the years following, Sima devastated livestock populations in Somalia. Sima has also forced Somalians to relocate: in 2017, drought was responsible for displacing more than one million people. While Somalia has seen several devastating droughts over the past half-century, Sima has been the most catastrophic one yet.

Civil war and political unrest have also contributed to Somalia’s struggle with poverty and food insecurity. Since the collapse of the military regime led by President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has experienced near-constant warfare. The lack of a functioning Somali government has only made it more difficult for Somalians living in poverty and left the country increasingly reliant on foreign aid.

The numbers illustrate Somalia’s dire situation. In 2017, 6.2 million Somalians were experiencing acute food insecurity. Of that number, half were experiencing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. Since that time, the U.S. Government had increased funding to the country by more than double when it offered an additional $257 million to USAID programs in Somalia in 2019.

USAID Programs in Somalia

The functions of USAID programs in Somalia are wide-ranging and amounted to about $500 million in 2019. USAID’s proclaimed mission statement says “USAID strengthens the foundations for a more stable, democratic and prosperous Somalia while saving lives, alleviating human suffering and reducing the economic impact of disasters.” USAID programs cover several key humanitarian areas.

Firstly, the Office of Food for Peace (FFP) received $300 million in funding for the fiscal year of 2019. FFP aims to alleviate food insecurity among Somalia’s most vulnerable populations. A different initiative attempts to strengthen trust in Somalia’s Government while also working to counteract violent extremist groups. The Democracy, Stabilization and Governance initiative consists of five separate initiatives with separate goals.

The multi-donor trust fund contributions consist of four parts and aim to assist local governments in becoming more effective. Social services initiatives in Somalia work to improve education for marginalized communities. Lastly, economic growth initiatives in Somalia work to revitalize the Somalian economy.

Somalia’s struggle with poverty and food insecurity has been lengthy and difficult. Nevertheless, USAID programs have seen quantifiable improvements. For example, USAID provided access and benefits to alternative basic education for 20,248 students. Even with the positive progress, the U.N. predicts further issues in Somalia and that more foreign aid will be necessary to fully restore the country.

– Leo Ratté
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