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.
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.
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.
With renewed commitment from Northern Triangle countries to advance their own development goals, and our government’s support, USAID is well placed for success. Our programs are strategically designed to confront current challenges while also enabling countries to better address emerging threats. As we have seen with the Zika outbreak and the prolonged drought, preparation and coordination are crucial to mitigating the effects of, and developing a response to, the crises and natural disasters that the region regularly faces. Political will, in combination with improved local capacity, leveraged resources and new partnerships, will allow us to help Central American governments create a more peaceful, prosperous, and integrated region.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request for Department of State and USAID foreign assistance in the East Asia-Pacific region is $873 million — a 12 percent increase over FY 2015. This request is in recognition that America’s security and prosperity are inextricably tied to the region, and it enables us to consolidate the gains in the East Asia-Pacific made under the Obama Administration as we transition to the next Administration — paving the way for sustained partnership with this increasingly consequential part of the world.
While the current era of unrest is being driven by inter-related and deeply-rooted political, economic, and social forces over which the United States has only limited influence, it is critical to U.S. national security interests that we maintain our engagement with people throughout the region. The region’s pre-existing challenges – poor quality education, healthcare, and other public services, coupled with lack of political and economic opportunity – were at the core of many of the uprisings that began five years ago. With few exceptions, people’s grievances have largely still not been addressed.
Violent conflict, fragility and violent extremism cross borders and present significant threats to both regional and international security. The costs of conflict — in a developmental, economic and human sense— are extraordinary. We must address the development-related factors that drive instability and the plight of the 1.5 billion people living in conflict and fragility around the world.
Last updated: October 21, 2016