The goal of the Dominican Republic (DR) 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperative Strategy (CDCS) is to promote a more secure and inclusively prosperous Dominican Republic that advances local and transboundary resilience.

As one of the United States’ closest neighbors, prosperity and security in the Dominican Republic directly impact the United States. Reflecting close economic, diplomatic, and social ties, the USAID/Dominican Republic CDCS advances America's strategic priorities and secures the foundation for the Dominican Republic to lead its own development. This strategy's focus on improving wellbeing for the most vulnerable and building local and national capacities that drive commitment for responsive governance supports national security initiatives related to crime and violence; illicit trade in narcotics, wildlife, and persons; health and infectious disease control; countering malign actors; and market-based development. USAID's work to enhance citizen-responsive governance, strengthen essential service systems, and improve community resilience and wellbeing promotes the CDCS Goal of a more secure and inclusively prosperous Dominican Republic that advances local and transboundary resilience.

Analysis of Country Roadmap metrics for the Dominican Republic indicates higher Capacity than Commitment and an overall average standing within its regional grouping. Capacity metrics highlight robust macroeconomic growth and achievements in measured poverty, yet the Dominican Republic exhibits continuing deficiencies in education quality and a persistent decline in safety and security. In Commitment, the Dominican Republic exhibits a steady decline in liberal democracy and social group equality that ranks among the lowest globally. Taken together, the Roadmap paints a picture of a country where many have not benefited from macro-level prosperity, government institutions could better support human and environmental wellbeing, and personal safety remains the top concern for Dominicans.
Religion and ethnic minorities are important features of Dominican society and culture. Eighty-eight percent of the Dominican population identifies as Christian (including Catholic), 11 percent are unaffiliated, and all other religions make up approximately 1 percent of the population. The Government of the Dominican Republic imposes almost no restrictions on religious freedom, and religion is a large component of social life in the Dominican Republic. However, the Haitian and Haitian-descent ethnic minority population that comprises approximately 7.5 percent of the total population of the Dominican Republic experiences social, economic, and institutional discrimination that drives the country's low social group equality. Across the Mission's portfolio, activities that will address issues of governance and human rights, access to quality public services, and mobilizing community resources.

Developed as part of a consultative process with the Government of the Dominican Republic (GODR), private sector, and civil society, this strategy represents USAID's commitment to employing its comparative advantage over the next five years to help the Dominican Republic overcome constraints that limit progress and create the capacities and incentives that advance the journey to self-reliance. Still grappling with the adverse effects of COVID-19, this strategy nonetheless comes into effect at an opportune moment when new perspectives can facilitate pivotal reforms and the experience of a global shock demonstrates the need to develop institutions and services that support secure, inclusive, and resilient prosperity. Through this CDCS, USAID advances a future where, driven by local structures and resources, Dominican youth develop productive and valued human capital, Haitian-descent populations in the Dominican Republic take part in shared growth, local efforts achieve HIV epidemic control, crime and security becomes a secondary concern for Dominicans, and public trust in GODR institutions rises.

Effective institutions form the foundation of self-reliance, and DO1 will help the GODR develop the capacity to deepen citizen-responsive governance. Investments in data-centered, evidence-based decision making, targeted improvements to sectoral legal frameworks, PEPFAR-driven alignment to global health and HIV standards, and interventions aimed at effective policy implementation boost capacities that catalyze GODR commitment to transparent and accountable state institutions. This will be coupled with strategic partnerships with media and civil society, the private sector, and Caribbean regional entities to ensure consistent and effective demand for improved education, citizen security, human rights, health, water and sanitation, energy, and environmental conservation.

In conjunction with governance efforts, USAID investments in DO2 will build the capacity to deliver high quality and inclusive essential services via well-functioning decentralized systems. Viewing service delivery as integrated systems that involve government, private sector, community, and civil society stakeholders, activities in DO2 are designed to promote health and work-readiness for Dominicans, resilient and reliable energy infrastructure, and a professionalized justice sector that practices equal treatment under the law. These activities prioritize access to quality services for vulnerable populations and robust service provision to targeted areas, including the population along the Dominican Republic-Haiti border region, women and youth, people with disabilities, LGBTI persons, and the HIV+ population, noting also the compounded challenges associated with the intersectionality of multiple vulnerabilities. In strengthening service systems, USAID will actively seek private sector partners to co-create and co-implement initiatives that support service systems, identify market-based solutions to environmental challenges, and strengthen Dominican networks that reduce opportunities for malign actors.

During consultations, Mission staff and private sector participants were asked to identify the characteristics they would like to see more developed in the Dominican Republic, and the results were consistent and powerful: sense of community, civility, harmony, empowerment. DO3 brings together the Mission's work that promotes community wellbeing, accounts for vulnerable and underserved populations, and helps build community-level resilience to shocks. Grounded in locally-led development, DO3 emphasizes building the capacities of local organizations to promote positive youth development, crime and violence prevention, and psycho-social and family health. Activities in DO3 will also employ locally-led and Dominican Republic-Haiti transboundary approaches to limit the adverse impacts of environmental and economic threats and will fortify communities through local and transboundary conflict mitigation and management along the Dominican Republic-Haiti border. Local organizations -- government, private sector, media, civil society, community and faith-based organizations -- will play key roles in advancing PEPFAR’s community-led monitoring approach, community resilience and wellbeing, and USAID will build the capacities of local organizations to effectively engage in locally-led and locally-owned development.

Genuine self-reliance is not created in isolation, and USAID will foster innovative, robust, and impactful partnerships across the landscape of development stakeholders. During implementation of the CDCS, USAID/Dominican Republic will ensure that the Mission-wide effort to diversify its partner base is central to the design and implementation of the strategy. USAID's redefined relationship with the GODR is driven by a focus on building internal capacities to make and implement decisions with transparency and accountability that motivates commitment to citizen-responsive governance. This also means working with GODR entities to harmonize local-to-national linkages to strengthen decentralized service networks and better elevate the needs of vulnerable communities. This CDCS also takes a new approach with regard to private sector engagement, integrating the private sector as development stakeholders, partnering to identify challenges and create, fund, and implement market-based and sustainable solutions. These private sector collaborations will leverage skills and resources to complement USAID's comparative advantages and achieve lasting impact in health and HIV, environment, water and sanitation, energy, education, and crime and violence. The Mission's consultations also revealed opportunities to engage and co-create with new and underutilized partners. Indeed, many local NGOs, civil society, and faith-based organizations have the roots, credibility, and expertise to deepen USAID's impact and carry forward locally-led and locally-owned development. While work with new and underutilized partners will require investment to build the managerial and administrative capacities of local and transboundary organizations, this work is pivotal to building grassroots self-reliance. Implementation of the CDCS will support women’s economic empowerment, advance religious freedom, and will work to incorporate the principles of procurement reform and support the Dominican Republic as it leads its own development journey to the point when there is no longer a need for foreign assistance.

This strategy is designed to align with and support U.S. Government priorities outlined in the National Security Strategy, the Joint Strategic Plan, the Joint Regional Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic Integrated Country Strategy. In the implementation of this CDCS, the Mission is also keenly aware of the DR's downgrade to Tier 2 Watchlist status in the June 2020 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. In conjunction with other USG entities, USAID's work to combat TIP in the DR crosses the Mission's portfolio and addresses victim-centered approaches to judicial reform, the intersection of TIP with gender-based violence (GBV) in the DR, and inclusive access to livelihood, psychosocial, health and other basic services for vulnerable children and youth to reduce the incidence of trafficking.