Written Statement of Administrator Mark Green before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

 
Introduction

Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Rogers, distinguished Members of the Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the latest on USAID’s redesign efforts and our approach to the most pressing humanitarian and development issues around the world. It is an honor to be here.

To ensure that USAID remains the world’s premier development organization, the Agency initiated an internal redesign process, or Transformation, in early 2017. When I last appeared before Committee on March 22, 2018, I provided an overview of several planned initiatives in this framework. After consultations with many of you and your staff, we have since launched many of them, and are eager to answer any questions you might have to approve our remaining Congressional Notifications on our Transformation.

Country Roadmaps: Defining and Measuring Self-Reliance

In pursuit of the day when USAID’s development assistance is no longer needed, we are now orienting our work around the concept of building self-reliance in partner countries. USAID defines “self-reliance” as a country’s ability to plan, finance, and implement solutions to its own development challenges. We believe that two mutually-reinforcing factors determine a country’s self-reliance: commitment, or the degree to which a country’s laws, policies, actions, and formal and informal governance mechanisms support progress toward self-reliance; and capacity, which refers to how far a country has come in its ability to plan, finance, and manage its own development agenda.

The Agency has turned to a team of data and policy experts to help us identify the best available, third-party, metrics to measure commitment and capacity, and provide an overall snapshot of a country’s level of self-reliance. Following consultations with USAID employees, external partners, and other stakeholders, we settled on 17 objective metrics across the political, social, and economic spheres. To tell each country’s unique story, we created “Country Roadmaps” for all 136 low- and middle-income countries as classified by the World Bank. These Country Roadmaps, which were rolled out in August 2018 for socialization with partner governments, visually depict each country’s performance across all 17 metrics.

These Roadmaps serve four specific purposes. First, they help us identify where each country is in its development journey, a crucial first step in reorienting our in-country approach around the concept of self-reliance. Second, they help inform our strategic decision-making and resource allocation processes, and ensure that we tailor USAID’s investments to advancing each country along that journey. Third, because they use objective, open-source data, the Roadmaps provide USAID with a common touchstone for use in dialogues with country and development partners. Lastly, the metrics help signal to USAID—and the broader U.S. Government—when a country has attained an advanced level of self-reliance and might be ready to enter a new, more enterprise-centered phase in our development partnership.

In October 2018, we published the Country Roadmaps online at USAID.gov. I welcome you to take a look.

Diversifying Our Partner Base, and Engaging New and Underutilized Partners

Metrics provide us with critical insight, but, ultimately, it is our in-country partnerships that advance the mission. Tapping into the innovation and resources of the private sector, and working with the full breadth of stakeholders, is critical to achieving sustainable development outcomes and building self-reliance. Many locally established actors—such as education institutions, non-profits, faith-based organizations and the private sector—have long engaged in efforts to build capacity, increase accountability, and provide services in countries prioritized by USAID. They are our natural allies in our development mission.

Historically, these groups have often struggled to compete for USAID funding because of burdensome compliance and solicitation requirements, the imposing dollar size and scope of our awards, and unfamiliarity with USAID’s terminology and practices. On our end, we have admittedly lacked a sustained commitment to mobilizing new and local partners. The result has been a dwindling partner base. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, 60 percent of our obligations went to 25 partners, and more than 80 percent of our obligations went to just 75 partners. The number of new partners has decreased consistently since 2011.

With the launch of USAID’s first-ever Acquisition and Assistance (A&A) Strategy last December, we seek to reverse this trend, and tap into the good ideas and innovative approaches that we know exist in underutilized partners. Included in the core tenets of the Strategy are collaborative approaches to partnership, prioritizing innovation, and building the commitment and capacity of new partners. By diversifying our partner-base, we will not only incorporate new ideas and approaches into our tool-kit, but we will also strengthen locally led development—a core component of each country’s Journey to Self-Reliance.

Recently, for example, USAID awarded the “Stop Gender-Based Violence (GBV)” project to the Zambia Center for Communications Programs (ZCCP). This five-year project will work to ensure that girls and women, boys and men, and members of priority populations across seven of Zambia’s ten Provinces are able to live lives free of GBV and enjoy healthy, supportive, and gender-equitable relationships. The project is the culmination of a concerted effort to identify a partner with local expertise and then help build their capacity to partner with USAID. It is precisely the sort of locally-led development with new or underutilized partners that we seek to facilitate through the new A&A Strategy. We expect to move forward soon with a series of specific procurement reforms suggested by our staff and partners to implement the Strategy quickly.

Strengthening Private-Sector Engagement

While there is a continuing role for traditional grant-making in our work, we can accelerate and amplify our efforts and outcomes by increasingly applying market-based solutions to the development challenges we aim to address. At USAID, we have long recognized that private enterprise is the most-powerful force on earth for lifting lives out of poverty, strengthening communities, and building self-reliance. But until recently, the Agency lacked a formal, overarching policy to guide and galvanize our engagement with the private-sector.

That changed last December with the launch of USAID’s Private-Sector Engagement Policy. The Policy serves as a call to action for all Agency staff and our partners to increase and strengthen our work with commercial firms, and embrace market-based approaches to achieve more sustainable development and humanitarian outcomes. We seek ever-greater input from the private-sector, moving beyond mere contracting and grant-making towards true collaboration, co-design, co-creation, and co-financing. As part of this greater focus on private-sector engagement, USAID looks forward to a close partnership with the new Development Finance Corporation (DFC) established by the BUILD Act to mobilize financing. With close integration of tools such as the Development Credit Authority (DCA) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s new equity authority and other reforms, the DFC will make private-sector engagement much more effective. We are working closely with OPIC and the White House to make the new DFC a reality. Through collaborative endeavors with our USG partners and the private sector, we seek to merge the capabilities and breadth of our respective expertise to tackle problems that neither could solve alone.

We pursue greater engagement with the private-sector because it is sound development, it achieves better outcomes, and it leverages the vast, largely untapped resources of commercial enterprise throughout the world. But we also pursue it because it is good for American businesses. The world’s fastest-growing economies are largely in the developing world. USAID’s work to promote regulatory reform already helps level the playing field for American businesses, by reducing their barrier to entry in these large markets. Combined with financing support from the new DFC, the United States can help bring these American businesses directly to the table to tackle specific challenges and further expand their opportunities.

This renewed emphasis on private sector engagement has already borne fruit. For example, last November, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding between USAID and Corteva, one of America’s great agribusinesses. Together, we will tackle global hunger while simultaneously cultivating new markets for U.S. technology and expertise. I am excited to see what other partnerships emerge in the months and years ahead.

Basic Education

Strengthening education systems is essential for countries on their Journey to Self-Reliance. High-quality education creates pathways for greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, sustained democratic governance, and more peaceful and resilient societies. Following passage of the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, USAID led the process of developing the U.S. Government’s International Basic Education Strategy to increase collaboration and coordination across our various Federal Government Agencies and Departments that are working on education in developing countries. I launched the International Basic Education Strategy in September 2018, and USAID continues to work on its implementation in partner countries worldwide.

USAID followed the launch of the Strategy with the release of our own Education Policy in November 2018. The Policy builds on the leadership USAID has shown around measurably improving learning outcomes, and reaching the most-marginalized children and youth—particularly those affected by conflict and crisis.

One aspect of the Policy that especially excites me is its focus on ensuring our education programs are tailored to the unique needs of each country. Through this policy, we are supporting partner countries to deliver quality education in a way that is sustainable. We are engaging all stakeholders that are actively working to improve education outcomes in a given country, including, U.S. universities, the private sector, faith-based organizations, teachers, communities, families, and students themselves. For example, USAID is working with the University of Notre Dame to improve literacy for children in Southern Haiti. Our partnership builds on the current network of 150 Catholic schools that represent the only meaningful education available there. These new education strategies will help ensure that we are considering every innovation and possible approach to produce the very best learning outcomes, including non-state schools and alternative ways to deliver skills training.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

No country can meaningfully progress in the Journey to Self-Reliance if inequalities between men and women impede half the population from realizing their full potential. The development dividends of greater participation by women in the economy are manifold: our experience shows that investing in women and girls accelerates gains across the full development spectrum, including in preventing conflict, improving food security, and promoting health.

On February 7, the President Trump launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative to promote women’s economic empowerment globally, and in so doing boost economic growth, peace, and prosperity. In support of this initiative, I have announced the establishment of a new USAID fund with an initial allocation of $50 million to finance and scale up innovative programs from USAID and across the U.S. Government that advance women’s economic empowerment across the world. The fund will support high-impact proposals in furtherance of the W-GDP Initiative's three pillars: training and skills development for women, expanding access to finance for women entrepreneurs, and improving the enabling environment by reducing barriers to women’s free and full participation in the economy.

This fund will build on our existing portfolio of activities in this key area, and maintain the momentum established through earlier initiatives, such as the WomenConnect Challenge USAID launched in 2017 with Ivanka Trump. The WomenConnect Challenge, a global call for innovative solutions to address the gender digital divide and better integrate women into the digital economy, received more than 500 applications across 89 countries. We announced nine winners last October—including one woman, from Uganda, I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this month who started an organization that has helped women in rural Africa develop their computer and information-technology skills and, in many cases, establish their own businesses.

While we are excited about these new initiatives, USAID has remained focused on our core day-to-day work: supporting the world’s most-vulnerable populations affected by humanitarian crises; promoting human rights, democracy, and citizen-responsive governance; and improving development outcomes in the areas of economic growth, education, environment, and health worldwide. Every day, our highly professional and dedicated staff work diligently to deliver sustainable development solutions and build self-reliance in partner countries, projecting American values globally, and advancing our foreign-policy and national-security objectives.

I know I cannot touch upon our work in each country in the limited time afforded to me here today, so allow me to discuss some of the themes and situations at the forefront of our attention.

Venezuela

As you know, the illegitimate dictator Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly blocked efforts to provide humanitarian relief to the millions of Venezuelan citizens in need. We continue to monitor the situation in Venezuela closely, where Maduro and his cronies have destroyed the country's institutions and economy and created the largest cross-border mass exodus in the history of the Americas. On January 30, 2019, I had the opportunity to speak by phone with Interim President Juan Guaidó, and I communicated our message of solidarity with the Venezuelan people. He already knew of our work to provide assistance to Venezuelans who have fled Maduro’s tyranny. He expressed gratitude for our efforts, and we agreed to continue working together in support of dignity, human rights, democracy, and justice in Venezuela.

On February 25, Vice President Pence announced that the United States is providing nearly $56 million in additional State and USAID humanitarian assistance to support the regional response for the nearly 3.4 million Venezuelans who have fled Venezuela due to the their country’s political and economic crisis caused by the illegitimate Maduro regime. With this new funding, since FY 2017, the United States has provided more than $195 million in humanitarian assistance and development and economic assistance to aid those Venezuelans who have left their country. In addition, on January 24, Secretary Pompeo pledged an additional $20 million in State and USAID humanitarian assistance for those people inside Venezuela as they struggle to cope with severe shortages of food and medicine shortages and other dire impacts of the regime-caused crisis. This funding will purchase emergency food and health assistance aimed at reaching the most vulnerable populations in Venezuela. We are working with the Departments of State and Defense to pre-position relief items—including food, nutritional supplements, hygiene kits, and medical supplies—in Colombia and Brazil so they are available to reach Venezuelans in need, as soon as is safe and logistically possible.

As President Trump has made clear, the people of Venezuela are not alone. The United States stands with those who are yearning for a better life and a true democracy. In Venezuela, USAID funds local organizations involved with human rights, civil society, independent media, electoral oversight, and democratic political processes, and the democratically elected National Assembly. We know the answer to Venezuela’s crisis must be human liberty and democracy; the people of Venezuela deserve a return to democracy and the rule of law, and a peaceful and prosperous future.

Outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Since the declaration of the outbreak on August 1, 2018, health officials have recorded at least 869 cases, including 544 deaths, in DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri Provinces as of February 25, 2019. The U.S. Government deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the DRC to augment the ongoing Ebola response efforts. These disaster and health experts from USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are working with partners to provide robust life-saving assistance and support affected populations. The DART is coordinating with the DRC Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, other donors, and key actors to support a coordinated effort, encourage sustained resourcing and fair burden-sharing, and ultimately end the outbreak. USAID assistance primarily focuses on breaking the chain of transmission, including through preventing and controlling infections, surveillance and case-finding, contact- tracing, case-management, and raising awareness in communities about how the virus is transmitted.

This response is a priority for the U.S. Government, not only because we are committed to supporting those affected, but also because effective efforts to contain and end the outbreak will prevent it from spreading throughout the broader region and beyond, including the United States.

Democratic Backsliding

A significant, though not insurmountable, challenge we face across all regions is democratic backsliding, in which authoritarian forces seek to unwind freedom’s gains. From Caracas to Phnom Penh, autocrats are employing more sophisticated and subversive tactics to prolong their rule, including weakening checks on their authority, eroding universal freedoms, and making a mockery of elections. As history has demonstrated, authoritarian systems exacerbate some of the biggest threats to U.S. national security, including violent extremism, armed conflict, and transnational organized crime. As such, USAID will continue to fund programming that aims to counter authoritarian impulses, nurture the capacity of civil society to advocate for an agenda of liberty and advance fundamental freedoms worldwide.

Democratic Reform in Ethiopia

After years of violent social upheaval and setbacks, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has taken numerous concrete steps to break from his country’s authoritarian past. These steps include the release of thousands of political prisoners; dropping legal action against opposition politicians; removing restrictions on media outlets and civil-society organizations; rewriting key pieces of legislation; and making peace with neighboring Eritrea. We are hopeful these actions will lead to a credible, more-vibrant, multi-party democracy with a market-based economic system that provides inclusive opportunity to all citizens.

We are working with the Ethiopian people to address some of their most-pressing humanitarian and development challenges. For example, USAID is funding a three-year partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and the Center of International Development (CID) at Harvard University to identify and address systemic constraints to economic growth in Ethiopia. We are also working with the Ethiopian judiciary and Attorney General’s office to help implement legal reforms that address human rights violations and ensure a fair, transparent participatory legal process for all citizens. Additionally, as part of our overall efforts to help Ethiopia achieve a prosperous and stable future, USAID plans to launch a new Global Food Security Strategy Country Plan for Ethiopia to support Ethiopia on the Journey to Self-Reliance.

Clear Choice

USAID has been aggressive in communicating to partner countries the advantages of the U.S. development model—which incentivizes reform to spur private enterprise and free-markets, attract investments, and foster self-reliance—and the long term costs of alternative models that saddle countries with unsustainable debt, lead to the forfeiture of strategic assets, and further the militaristic ambitions of authoritarian actors. Recently, I had the opportunity to address the Chiefs of Missions from all our Embassies worldwide. I encouraged them to incorporate our messaging framework into their dialogues with host government counterparts. We offer partner countries a path to self-reliance and an enterprise-driven future. The authoritarian model offers essentially, servitude.

Indo-Pacific Strategy

In Asia, USAID plays a key role in advancing the U.S. Government’s Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS). America’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region is one in which all nations are sovereign, strong, and prosperous. Together with our U.S. Government partners, and in coordination with like-minded donor partners, including Australia, Japan, and Republic of Korea, USAID helps advance the IPS by strengthening governance in areas critical to achieving this vision—primarily with regard to bolstering economies, supporting democratic institutions and transparency, and fostering incentives to manage natural resources that address the region’s substantial infrastructure gap—foremost in energy, transportation, and digital infrastructure. By promoting open, transparent, rules-based, and citizen-responsive governance across Asia, the IPS mitigates the influence of predatory countries while unlocking enterprise-led growth that helps drive sustainable development and increase partner countries’ self-reliance. As part of this strategy, USAID is playing a leading role in the interagency.

Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh and Burma

Bangladesh now hosts one million Rohingya refugees from Burma, as well as the world’s largest refugee camp. 730,000 of these migrants arrived in the wake of an ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by Burmese security forces that began in August 2017. Last May, I went to Bangladesh and Burma’s Rakhine State to see the alarming reality facing Rohingya communities. I saw firsthand their terrible plight. The United States is the largest-single donor of humanitarian aid to this crisis and stands as a beacon of hope to Rohingya.

Our efforts have been, and remain focused on measures that will improve the situation for Rohingya in Rakhine State, as well as Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh. While providing life-saving assistance is critical, the Burmese Government must address the underlying causes of conflict and violence in Burma for there to be lasting peace, and for the country to move toward fulfilling the promise of its far-from-yet-realized democratic transition.

Conclusion

Chairwoman, Ranking Member, Members of the Committee, as I stated during my last testimony, I believe that we are creating a USAID that can better leverage our influence, authority, and resources to advance U.S. Government interests and improve the way we provide humanitarian and development assistance. The initiatives that I have covered today bring us closer to that goal. As we continue to move forward in these efforts, I invite your input and guidance so that together we can ensure USAID remains the world’s premier international development Agency.

Thank you for the invitation to speak with you today, and I welcome your questions.

Chamber 
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House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Last updated: March 07, 2019

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