Congressional Testimony

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Chairman Young, Ranking Member Merkley, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the invitation to speak with you today about the importance of food assistance and the link between global food security and America’s economic prosperity and national security. I am grateful you are drawing attention to this subject and especially for your history of support for humanitarian efforts to help the world’s most vulnerable people.

I am Matthew Nims, Acting Director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP), the largest provider of food assistance in the world. We use a range of tools, including U.S. commodities, locally and regionally procured food, food vouchers, cash transfers and other complementary activities, to reach the world’s most food insecure with life-saving assistance. Last year, our food assistance reached nearly 70 million people in 53 countries.

We provide food assistance because it eases human suffering and represents our core American values of compassion and generosity. Helping feed those around the world in their time of need is the right thing to do but also makes America and her allies safer. Hunger and conflict are inextricably linked. Where hunger persists, instability grows. The opposite is also true: where conflict occurs, hunger follows.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Strong and effective information technology systems are essential to USAID achieving its mission in a modern world. As a relatively small agency with a relatively small IT budget managing a worldwide network, USAID has no choice but to embrace efficient IT. USAID is proud to have received the first A rating ever given under the FITARA Scorecard; our score reflects years of hard work to put in place key reforms to address the deficiencies of prior years.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Good afternoon Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today about the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is always an honor to have the opportunity to discuss our work with supporters of Africa. For me personally, it is a pleasure to be back testifying before this Subcommittee.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Chairman Yoho, Ranking Members Deutch and Sherman, and Members of the Subcommittees, thank you for inviting me here to discuss the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

General Votel of U.S. Central Command put it this way: “There is a lot that the military can do, but it is extraordinarily important that our diplomats, our Department of State, our other development agencies, and others are involved in this process as well.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The recent escalation in violence in northern Rakhine State has resulted in massive displacement and humanitarian needs both in Burma and across the border in neighboring Bangladesh. This is a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, and the United States is responding to save lives. Recent events not only imperil the lives of thousands, but also mark a decision point for Burma’s political and military leadership, with the world watching.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The four conflict-zones of South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen alone account for more than 20 million people at risk of severe hunger or starvation and all face a credible threat of famine. In recent months, the United States has announced more than $1.5 billion in additional humanitarian assistance to these areas since May, including food assistance, bringing total U.S. humanitarian assistance to these countries to nearly $3.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2017. This assistance has saved the lives of millions and helped to avert famine and contain other deadly diseases like cholera from spreading further.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lebanon remains a high priority for the United States. Since 2006, with the support of Congress, the United States has provided approximately $1.2 billion in economic assistance to the Lebanese people. Together with USAID’s technical expertise, these funds have played a critical role in promoting Lebanon’s stability and security through programs focused on good governance, advancing access to education and clean water, and supporting social cohesion. As Deputy Assistant Secretary Ratney outlined, Lebanon is facing many challenges. The spillover from the Syria crisis has weakened the Lebanese economy, and put excessive pressure on the delivery of services. Many schools are overcrowded, food prices have escalated, and basic health delivery services are overwhelmed. Power, water and sanitation services do not meet the people's needs, and tensions between Lebanese host communities and the Syrian refugee population have intensified. Investment and trade with neighbors has slowed; tourism is down sharply from 2010; and unemployment has nearly doubled since 2012.

In the context of these challenges, I would like to talk briefly about how USAID’s programming is helping local partners deliver services across Lebanon, supporting Lebanon’s private sector, and enhancing inclusive economic growth. Strong local Lebanese communities empower the Lebanese people, and can serve as an alternative to extremist elements.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

United States assistance is having a transformative impact in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2000 and 2015, the percentage of Africans living in extreme poverty has declined from 57 to 41 percent; under-5 mortality rates have declined from 154 per 1,000 births to 74 children per thousand in 2015; and African school primary enrollment rates have increased from 61 percent in 2000 to 79 percent in 2014.

These dramatic changes were the result of sustained efforts by African governments, with essential support from aid donors, foundations, and non-governmental organizations. Throughout USAID’s history, we have confronted some of the world’s greatest development challenges, and along with our partners, we have demonstrated that our work can and does have a measurable impact. Even so, every program should look forward to the day when it can end. So every USAID mission must continuously evaluate how each program dollar moves a country closer to that day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

In response to the latest violence, USAID is responding on both sides of the Burma/Bangladesh border, providing humanitarian assistance where possible, as well as helping host communities cope with the influx of refugees in Bangladesh, and addressing intercommunal tensions in ethnically mixed areas of Rakhine in Burma, including those not directly affected by recent violence. As a foreign service officer who lived on the Thailand-Burma border sixteen years ago working with migrants and refugees, Burma is for me, as I know many others, a special place that has influenced my path in international human rights and development. In my testimony, I will touch on the issues USAID is responding to in the current crisis, and highlight some of the challenges we face in attempting to provide assistance, and bring a lasting resolution to this crisis.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In summary, USAID would like to emphasize our long-standing relationship with the Liberian people and highlight our commitment to accompany Liberia through this historic transition. We believe that the Government of Liberia can create conditions for a credible electoral process, from the pre-election period through the transparent tabulation and announcement of results, and USAID will continue to support these efforts. USAID is poised to support post-election reform efforts, assist the National Election Commission to apply lessons learned to further their capability, and professionalize political parties to further continue democratic development.

We will urge the newly elected Administration to consolidate democratic gains through effective and accountable governance, responsiveness to its citizens, and adherence to the rule of law. This includes developing and utilizing systems that reduce opportunities for corruption and waste of limited public resources. Our assistance will continue to promote good governance while strengthening critical public administration functions at national and local levels. These systems improve policy-making, budget and financial accounting, human resources management, and domestic revenue mobilization. We will continue to support land policy reforms and efforts to improve the quality of legal services available to the population, and we will build civil society and media oversight capacity, thereby reducing opportunities for renewed conflict or instability – key requirements for sustained peace and economic growth in Liberia.


Last updated: March 21, 2018

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