Thank you for the invitation to testify today. I am grateful for the Committee’s interest in Central America and I am pleased to have this opportunity to update you on our interagency strategy to address the root causes of the migration crisis in Central America.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
USAID’s longstanding role in the Balkans and across Europe and Eurasia is to work with host countries and international partners to build the institutions of government, the economic systems, and the free civil societies that lead to democracy and prosperity. Our job is to help build the foundations of “a Europe Whole, Free, and at Peace.”
Over the past two decades, USAID’s programs in the Balkans have been designed to accelerate democratic progress and European integration. Today we partner with governments, civil society and other donors in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Serbia, and Macedonia to strengthen democracies and the rule of law, confront endemic corruption, and expand civil society and a free press.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request of $845.6 million in foreign assistance for the East Asia-Pacific represents an 8 percent increase over FY 2014, laying a foundation for long-term strengthening of our relationships with the people of the region.
It is an exciting and pivotal time for U.S. policy in the region. More people live in Asia than anywhere else on the planet. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of extreme poverty over the past few decades, contributing to economic growth, regional stability and a growing middle class. In the next decade, trade volume in Asia is expected to double, and by 2050, Asia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to account for more than half of the world’s GDP.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Today, there are still more than one billion people globally who suffer from one or more Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). These diseases disproportionately impact poor and rural populations, who often lack access to safe water, sanitation and essential medicines – the very people who make up those in extreme poverty. NTDs take a very heavy human toll by creating sickness, disability, blindness and severe disfigurement; contributing to childhood malnutrition; compromising the mental and physical development of children; and leading to an appreciable loss of productivity. While NTDs do not usually result in death, they clearly devastate individuals, families and the future of children.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
USAID is the largest provider of food assistance in the world and we are seeking to maintain our leadership role – to be the best at what we do – by evolving our programs with the times. So today I would like to share with you the evolution of food aid and how evidenced-based learning can improve our programs. I also want to highlight how we are currently using the flexibility provided through the International Disaster Assistance account and how the critical reforms in the 2014 Farm Bill are enabling USAID to reach more people quickly and cost-effectively. These reforms serve as the basis for USAID to continue to pursue additional flexibility in food crises to use the right tool at the right time.
USAID’s mission across the globe is to partner to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. In Central America, USAID assistance has been an important part of this effort. For example, past programming has expanded financing for small businesses and supported macroeconomic policies to reduce inequities and improve access to quality health and education. We have seen political, social, and economic advances in countries like Costa Rica and Panama. However, in recent years, social development and economic growth in Central America have been stymied by a dramatic rise in crime and violence—particularly in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. This insecurity is rooted in deep-seated issues of social and economic inequity, weak institutions of criminal justice, the failure of the region’s governments and private sector to expand economic opportunity for vast segments of the population, and increases in gang violence and international crime. As these long-standing challenges in Central America worsened, we saw the consequences manifest at our border last year when more than fifty thousand unaccompanied children left their homes in Central America to make the dangerous journey to the United States.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request of $383.4 million for South Asia reflects our sustained commitment to the region through a steady level of funding over the past few fiscal years. In more than 100 countries around the world, including 32 in Asia, U.S. development assistance plays a vital role in building the foundations for lasting economic prosperity, fostering democratic values and combatting the causes of instability that pose threats not only in far-off places, but also here on our own shores — threats such as profound human suffering, more frequent and intense storms that erase gains and set back whole societies, and weak systems of governance that continually fail to meet the needs of the people. USAID is expanding stable, free societies that provide lasting alternatives to otherwise destabilizing forces, while also creating markets and trade partners for the United States and fostering goodwill abroad — all with less than 1 percent of the total federal budget.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
While visiting Ghana in 2009, President Obama observed that, “Development depends on good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That’s the change that can unlock Africa’s potential.” Consistent with the President’s vision, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) promotes better governance as an integral part of our development agenda. But the real story isn’t one of our technical assistance or support for elections. The real story lies in the committed African men and women that are working every day to strengthen their nations’ democratic institutions and processes. According to a 2014 Afrobarometer survey, seven out of ten Africans prefer democracy to other political systems. These individuals, growing in number, making their voices heard -- through elections and through civil society organizations -- are the faces of democracy in Africa.
Ultimately, our investment in development represents the vanguard of our economic strength, moral leadership, and national security. At the same time, it advances an unprecedented global fight to end extreme poverty. Since the dawn of humanity, extreme poverty has crowded at the heels of progress—stifling hopes and undermining growth across the centuries. But today, we stand within reach of a world that was simply once unimaginable: a world without extreme poverty and its most devastating consequences, including chronic hunger and child death. As President Obama said at the United Nations General Assembly, “America is committed to a development agenda that eradicates extreme poverty by 2030. We will do our part to help people feed themselves, power their economies, strengthen their policies, and care for their sick. If the world acts together, we can make sure that all of our children enjoy lives of opportunity and dignity.
Thanks to bipartisan support in Congress and from the American people, USAID is responding to unprecedented development challenges, including some of the most pressing events unfolding on the world stage today. By partnering to end extreme poverty, reduce state fragility, and promote resilient democratic societies, we help developing countries transform into peaceful, open, and flourishing partners for our nation.
Last updated: February 25, 2016