Testimony by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the FY 2013 Budget Request

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thank you Chairman Cardin, Ranking Member Lugar, and members of the Committee. I am honored to join you to discuss the President's fiscal year 2013 budget request for USAID.

Two years ago, President Obama and Secretary Clinton called for elevating development as a key part of America's national security and foreign policy. Through both the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, they made the case that the work USAID's development experts do around the globe was just as vital to America's global engagement as that of our military and diplomats.

The President's FY 2013 budget request enables USAID to meet the development challenges of our time. It allows us to respond to the dramatic political transformations in the Middle East and North Africa. It helps us focus on our national security priorities in frontline states like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. And it strengthens economic prosperity, both at home and abroad.

This budget also allows us to transform the way we do development. It helps countries feed, treat and educate their people while strengthening their capacity to own those responsibilities for themselves. It helps our development partners increase stability and counter violent extremism. It supports those who struggle for self-determination and democracy and empowers women and girls. And it helps channel development assistance in new directions-toward private sector engagement, scientific research and innovative technologies.

I want to highlight how the investments we make in foreign assistance help our country respond to our current challenges, while delivering results that shape a safer and more prosperous future.

EFFICIENCY, TRADE OFFS AND USAID FORWARD

While foreign assistance represents less than one percent of our budget, we are committed to improving our efficiency and maximizing the value of every dollar. American households around the country are tightening their belts and making difficult tradeoffs. So must we.

Even as we face new challenges around the world, our budget represents a slight reduction from fiscal year 2012.

We've prioritized, focused and concentrated our investments across every portfolio. In global health, we propose to close out programs in Peru and Mexico as those countries take greater responsibility for the care of their own people.

We've eliminated Feed the Future programs in Kosovo, Serbia and Ukraine and reduced support to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia by $113 million to reflect shifting global priorities and progress over time by some countries toward market-based democracy.

And we're keeping our staffing and overall administrative costs at current levels, even in the midst of a major reform effort. It is through that effort that I spoke about last year-USAID Forward-that we've been able to deliver more effective and efficient results with our current staffing profile and operating budget.

Our budget prioritizes our USAID Forward suite of reforms.

That funding allows us to invest in innovative scientific research and new technologies. Last year, our support of the AIDS vaccine research through PEPFAR led to the isolation of 17 novel antibodies that may hold the key to fighting the pandemic. And we're working with local scientists at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institutes to develop new drought-resistant seed varieties of sorghum, millet and beans, as well as a vitamin-A rich orange-fleshed sweet potato.

It helps us conduct evaluations so we know which of our development efforts are effective and which we need to scale back. The American Evaluation Association recently cited our evaluation policy as a model other federal agencies should follow.

It allows us to partner more effectively with faith-based organizations and private companies. In fact, the OECD recognized USAID as the best amongst peers in driving private sector partnerships and investment.

And through our procurement reform efforts, among the most far-reaching and ambitious across the federal government, we are aggressively seeking new ways to work with host country partners instead of through more costly consultants and contractors. This effort will make our investments more sustainable and hasten our exit from countries, while cutting costs.

For instance, in Afghanistan, we invested directly in the country's Ministry of Health instead of third parties. As a result, we were able to save more than $6 million.

That investment also strengthened the Afghan health ministry, which has expanded access to basic health services from nine percent of the country to 64 percent. Last year, we discovered the true power of those investments; Afghanistan has had the largest gains in life expectancy and largest drops in maternal and child mortality of any country over the last ten years.

In Senegal, we are working with the government-instead of foreign construction firms-to build middle schools at a cost of just $200,000 each. That helps strengthen the government's ability to educate its people, but it is also significantly more cost effective than enlisting a contractor.

When we do invest money in partner governments, we do so with great care. Our Agency has worked incredibly hard to develop assessments that make sure the money we invest in foreign governments is not lost due to poor financial management or corruption.

With your continued support of this effort, we can expand our investments in local systems while building the level of oversight, accountability and transparency that working with a new and more diverse set of partners requires.

The Working Capital Fund we've requested would give us a critical tool in that effort. The Fund would align USAID's acquisition and assistance to USAID's program funding levels through a fee-for-service model, so that our oversight and stewardship is in line with our program and funding responsibilities. The result will be improved procurement planning, more cost effective awards, and better oversight of contracts and grants.

SUPPORTING STRATEGIC PRIORITIES AND STRENGTHENING NATIONAL SECURITY

We will continue to support the growth of democracies around the world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa where the transformative events of the Arab Spring are bringing down autocratic regimes and expanding freedom.

State and USAID have requested $770 million for a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to respond to the historical changes taking place across the region. The Fund will incentivize long-term economic, political and trade reforms-key pillars of stability-by supporting governments that demonstrate a commitment to undergo meaningful change and empower their people. State and USAID will continue to play a major role in helping the people of this region determine their own future.

In Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, USAID continues to work closely with interagency partners including the State and Defense departments, to move toward long-term stability, promote economic growth and support democratic reforms. Civilians are now in the lead in Iraq, helping that country emerge as a stable, sovereign, democratic partner. Our economic assistance seeks to expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life throughout the country, with a particular focus on health, education and private sector development. With time, Iraq's domestic revenue will continue to take the place of our assistance.

In Afghanistan, we've done work to deliver results despite incredibly difficult circumstances. We established our Accountable Assistance for Afghanistan-or A3-initiative to reduce subcontracting layers, tighten financial controls, enhance project oversight and improve partner vetting. And with consistent feedback from Congress we are focusing on foundational investments in economic growth, reconciliation and reintegration and capacity building, as well as to support progress in governance, rule of law, counternarcotics, agriculture, health and education. We continue to focus on the sustainability of these investments so they ultimately become fiscally viable within the Afghan Government's own budget.

In Pakistan, our relationship is challenging and complex, but it is also critical. Our assistance continues to strengthen democratic institutions and foster stability during a difficult time. Crucial to those efforts are the efforts we make to provide electricity. Over the last two years, we've added as many as 1,000 megawatts to Pakistan's grid, providing power to 7 million households. We've also trained more than 70,000 businesswomen in finance and management and constructed 215 kilometers of new road in South Waziristan, expanding critical access to markets.

THE GLOBAL HEALTH INITIATIVE

Thanks in large part to the bipartisan support we've had for investments in global health, we're on track to provide life-saving assistance to more people than ever before. Although this year's request of $7.9 billion for the Global Health Initiative is lower than FY 2012 levels, falling costs, increased investments by partner governments, and efficiencies we've generated by integrating efforts and strengthening health systems will empower us to reach even more people.

That includes PEPFAR, which will provide life-saving drugs to those around the world afflicted with HIV and expand prevention efforts in those countries where the pandemic continues to grow. We can expand access to treatment and lift a death sentence for six million people in total without additional funds.

We're also increasingly providing treatment for pregnant mothers with HIV/AIDS so we can ensure their children are born healthy. And because of breakthrough research released last year, we know that putting people on treatment actually helps prevention efforts-treatment is prevention. All of these efforts are accelerating progress towards President Obama's call for an AIDS-free generation.

Our request also includes $619 million for the President's Malaria Initiative, an effective way to fight child mortality. In country after country, we've shown that if we can increase the use of cheap bed nets and anti-malarial treatments, we can cut child death-from any cause, not just malaria-by as much as 30 percent. In Ethiopia, the drop in child mortality has been 50 percent.

Last year, we commissioned an external, independent evaluation of the Presidential Malaria Initiative's performances. That report praised the Initiative's effective leadership for providing "excellent and creative program management."

And we will continue to fund critical efforts in maternal and child health, voluntary family planning, nutrition, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases-cost-effective interventions that mean the difference between life and death.

FEED THE FUTURE

Last year, the worst drought in 60 years put more than 13.3 million people in the Horn of Africa at risk. Thanks to the humanitarian response led by the United States-and the investments we made in the past to build resilience against crises just like these-millions were spared from the worst effects of the drought.

But as is well known, providing food aid in a time of crisis is seven to 10 times more costly than investing in better seeds, irrigation and fertilizers. If we can improve the productivity of poor farmers in partner countries, we can help them move beyond the need for food aid. And we can prevent the violence and insecurity that so often accompanies food shortages.

That's why we are requesting $1 billion to continue funding for Feed the Future, President Obama's landmark food security initiative. These investments will help countries develop their own agricultural economies, helping them grow and trade their way out of hunger and poverty, rather than relying on food aid.

The investments we're making are focused on country-owned strategies that can lift smallholder farmers-the majority of whom are women-out of poverty and into the productive economy. All told, the resources we're committing to Feed the Future will help millions of people break out of the ranks of the hungry and impoverished and improve the nutrition of millions of children.

We're also leveraging our dollars at every opportunity, partnering with countries that are investing in their own agricultural potential and helping companies like Walmart, General Mills and PepsiCo bring poor farmers into their supply chain.

These investments are working.

In Haiti-where we continue to make great strides thanks to strong congressional support-we piloted a program designed to increase rice yields in the areas surrounding Port-au-Prince. Even while using fewer seeds and less water and fertilizer, Haitian farmers saw their yields increase by almost 190 percent. The farmers also cut 10 days off their normal harvest and increased profit per acre. Today that program is being expanded to reach farmers throughout the country. These results complement our work to cut cholera deaths to below the international standard. And we worked with the Gates Foundation to help nearly 800,000 Haitians gain access to banking services through their mobile phones.

And in Kenya, Feed the Future has helped over 90,000 dairy farmers-more than a third of whom are women-increase their total income by a combined $14 million last year. This effort is critical, since we know that sustainable agricultural development will only be possible when women and men enjoy the same access to credit, land and new technologies.

Overall, since we began the initiative in 2008, our 20 target countries have increased their total agricultural production by an average of 5.8 percent. That's over eight times higher than the global average increase of 0.7 percent

BUILDING RESILIENCE

We all know that a changing climate will hit poor countries hardest. Our programs are aimed at building resilience among the poorest of those populations.

By investing in adaptation efforts, we can help nations cope with these drastic changes. By investing in clean energy, we can help give countries new, efficient ways to expand and grow their economies. And by investing in sustainable landscapes, we can protect and grow rainforests and landscapes that sequester carbon and stop the spread of deserts and droughts.

That work goes hand in hand with our efforts to expand access to clean water to people hit hard by drought. In 2010 alone, those efforts helped more than 1.35 million people get access to clean water and 2 million people access to sanitation facilities. Increasingly, we're working with countries to build water infrastructure and with communities to build rain catchments and wells to sustainably provide clean water. We're currently in the process of finalizing a strategy for our water work designed to focus and concentrate the impact of our work in this crucial area.

STRENGTHENING EDUCATION

Last year, we made some critical decisions about how we strengthen global education. Since 1995, USAID's top recipients have increased primary school enrollment by 15 percent. But even as record numbers of children enter classrooms, we have seen their quality of learning sharply drop. In some countries, 80 percent of schoolchildren can't read a single word at the end of second grade. That's not education; it's daycare.

The strategy we released last year will make sure that our assistance is focused on concrete, tangible outcomes like literacy. By 2015, we will help improve the reading skills of 100 million children.

CONCLUSION

Thanks to these smart investments, every American can be proud that their tax dollars go towards fighting hunger and easing suffering from famine and drought, expanding freedom for the oppressed and giving children the chance to live and thrive no matter where they're born.

But we shouldn't lose sight that these investments aren't just from the American people-as USAID's motto says-they're for the American people. By fighting hunger and disease, we fight the despair that can fuel violent extremism and conflict. By investing in growth and prosperity, we create stronger trade partners for our country's exports.

And above all, by extending freedom, opportunity and dignity to people throughout the world, we express our core American values and demonstrate American leadership.

Thank you.

Subject 
FY 2013 Budget Request
Chamber 
Senate
Committee 
Committee on Foreign Relations

Last updated: December 09, 2014

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