The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request of $164.1 million for Department of State and USAID foreign assistance in Central Asia reflects an increased commitment to American engagement in this strategically important region. The request would enable USAID to build on recent momentum in the U.S.-Central Asia relationship developed through Secretary of State John Kerry’s historic November 2015 trip, during which he emphasized the United States’ strong commitment to the prosperity, sovereignty, stability and security of the five Central Asian countries, including through regional integration as promoted by the recently launched “C5+1” framework between the five Central Asian countries and the United States.
USAID has long played an important role in Europe and Eurasia, which has seen considerable advances in freedom, security, and prosperity over the past quarter century. Twelve countries have transitioned from receiving U.S. assistance, successfully integrating into the Euro-Atlantic community through institutions such as NATO and the European Union (EU). Many of these countries are now important U.S. partners and allies in the region and around the world. Yet the region’s transformation remains incomplete; progress is uneven in key areas, important achievements are at risk and, in a few cases, we are seeing regression.
Before I begin, I want to thank both of you as well as the members of this Subcommittee for your continued support and leadership on nutrition and food security. In particular, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for sponsoring the Global Food Security Act, which demonstrates the U.S. Government’s commitment to reducing global poverty and hunger through increased food security and improved nutrition.
In the Europe and Eurasia region, states weakened by corruption are more susceptible to malign pressure and manipulation from the Russian Federation and other countries, as any semblance of a rules-based order often seems to take a back seat to power, influence, and greed including oligarchs, whose geopolitical goals do not respect international commitments to transparency, rule of law, and fair play. Finally, endemic corruption threatens states by depriving them of the most important resource of any democratic government -- the trust and confidence of its citizens. Where public trust is absent, there can be little expectation of the cooperation of citizens with government to build resilient democracies, let alone do what is needed to counter emerging threats like violent extremism.
For these reasons the Administration sees addressing the problem of corruption, and the need for open, effective, representative governance as a significant priority.
We recognize that the Jasmine Revolution was sparked by the Tunisian people's frustration with the stifling of political discourse, a corrupt economic environment, and predatory security apparatus that coalesced to strip the dignity of citizens. As the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says in our mission statement, we seek to partner with Tunisia to end extreme poverty and promote a resilient, democratic society while advancing our security and prosperity. I'd like to talk briefly about how the U.S. government quickly and effectively responded to support Tunisians' aspirations for change, describe what we are doing in Tunisia today, and outline how we plan to scale up our support for the democratic transition and economic reforms.
USAID is deeply committed to supporting democratic governance in Africa as part of our mission to end extreme poverty and promote democratic, resilient societies. Africa is on the rise; the continent has some of the youngest populations and fastest growing economies in the world, yet extreme poverty remains concentrated in its fragile states. Development is not sustainable without a legitimate, responsible government that can deliver services in an inclusive manner as well as a vibrant civil society that channels citizen interests and promotes accountability.
President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request of $440.7 million for South Asia reflects our sustained commitment to this vitally important region.
While the region has achieved much success in terms of development — indeed, South Asia has seen real GDP growth at twice the global average — significant challenges remain. The region is home to roughly one-third of the world’s population suffering from extreme poverty, both the highest rates and largest numbers of undernourished children in the world, and is extremely prone to natural disasters — as we saw in April 2015 in Nepal.
The United States has a powerful tool to prevent conflict and instability: international development. As the U.S. Government’s primary development agency, USAID has long recognized the critical role of development in addressing social, economic, governance, and other legitimate grievances that can fuel violent extremism and promote radicalization of individuals and communities. It is also important to build counter-violent extremism messaging into programming, especially in local languages that can reach vulnerable populations. Our activities and interventions are designed to reduce extremists’ opportunities to exploit social injustice, lack of political integration, economic inequality, religious persecution, and ideological extremism to recruit followers to violent agendas or criminal networks.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Today, I would like to highlight the worsening humanitarian crisis that the South Sudanese people face and how USAID has adapted its efforts to help them despite serious challenges. I will discuss our life-saving aid, as well as our long-term assistance to provide basic services, improve livelihoods, and mend the deep societal rifts in South Sudan. USAID’s mission is to partner to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity—nowhere more so than in a country as desperately in need as South Sudan.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
For more than fifty years, USAID has led our nation’s efforts to advance dignity and prosperity around the world, both as an expression of core American values and to help build peaceful, open, and flourishing partners for the United States. This is particularly important in those countries closest to our shores: the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Last updated: June 17, 2016