USAID Administrator Mark Green’s Press Availability

Jijiga Export Slaughter House, Jijiga, Ethiopia

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Office of Press Relations

 
QUESTION:  Thank you much for your time I know this is your first overseas trip since last took office, why Ethiopia?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well truth be told, the real reason that I wanted to come here is to see Feed the Future in action.  You know, when I was ambassador we didn’t have Feed the Future, and one of my great frustrations as an ambassador in Tanzania, for this tremendous need, I had no tools.  I didn’t have the kinds of tools that Feed the Future brings so it was chance to see with my own two eyes how this partnership that we call, Feed the Future, is not only helping to deal with immediate needs and immediate food insecurity, but looking for ways to strengthen people against future shock, so they are better able to withstand a natural disaster and crisis in the future.  Ethiopia’s a particularly good place for that because while they have drought and they have challenges, they are much better off than they were just a few years ago than the last drought.  So, this is a place where we see some of the benefits and the potential for Feed the Future.

QUESTION:  So over many decades, you’ve seen the very same people, through many cycles of drought and famine.  I mean famine and you know, better times and then worse times.  Where do you think is prompting change?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well again, I think Feed the Future itself, as an approach, is not simply humanitarian response.  Humanitarian response is important, but we’re all understanding, you want to help people protect themselves and to be strengthened against the potential for future shock and crisis, as a sad reality, Ethiopia seems to get those shocks every few years; not just once a generation.  And so, I think what we’re doing here, these sorts of facilities which create better livelihoods, but also some of the partnership for putting together, including the American business community, agribusiness community is a very smart way of tackling food and security.

QUESTION:  And could you just talk briefly on why this is a good investment for America and what do you say to other people (inaudible).  That every time we go there, [inaudible].  They say, you know, why --

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  It is strangely --

QUESTION:  -- create $200 job --  200 jobs here and not there.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Strangely, when it comes to anything agribusiness related, I actually do better in [inaudible].

QUESTION: [laughs]

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  No, for lots of reasons.  Number one, it is in our national security interest.  We know that instability and despair are conditions that bad guys, too often, know how to exploit.  Secondly, it’s in our economic interest.  We want markets, we want partners, we want people who are consumers, we want people who want to buy stuff that we make.  It’s in that interest, but also, I think it’s a projection of American values.  In the case of Feed the Future, it’s not only the compassion of responding to hunger, but it’s also this sense of helping people help themselves.  At our last stop, the lady that I spoke to was perfect.  It was like Clayton had set the question up because I asked about -- you know she was waiting there and in a little while, she had gone over to distribute the food.  She asked me about help with things like irrigation and support for the future so that next time, she could take care of herself.  I thought, “That’s golden!  That’s it!”  So, to me, that’s what all of our development should be pointed towards.  I’m under no illusions.  The development journey in many places in the world is a long one, but I want us to always be thinking about what it is that we can do that just nudges something towards a day when people get to take care of themselves, which is what people want to do, naturally.

QUESTION:  So is Ethiopia what you have in mind, when you say you to go out and --

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Ethiopia is a perfect sort of capsulized version of all of it because they’ve been struck unfortunately often by drought and food and security.  Secondly, Feed the Future has definitely had success here.  Everyone points to this part of the world as a place where American resilience work has had a measurable effect.  So, I think it’s good there.  Also, we see local leaders who are well organized and really interested in working with us as partners and that’s key.  And you may have heard me say today, people – it’s great when people thank USAID or the American government.  It’s American’s tax payer’s money, and it’s a partnership.  And if they ever view it as anything other than that, I would think that we’ve made a mistake.  I want them to see this as the generosity of hard working Americans from all over the country.  And secondly, I want them to look at it as a partnership that will help them win their true need, help them stand up.  But at some point, they’ll need to be able to do this themselves.  And so, this kind of a fun place for that.

MR. MCCLESKEY:  One final question from Somali Regional TV?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Yes, sir.

QUESTION: [inaudible]

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  So I came here to listen and learn, and I learned a lot.  I learned about what is being done with American resources and Ethiopian leadership.  I learned about the new businesses that are being launched.  So that I wanted to see, so to listen and learn.  Also, I’m learning about our own programs.  Feed the Future is an American program I am learning and studying a lot to see how I as an administrator can maybe help to make it even more effective.

QUESTION: [inaudible]

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  I’m sorry?

QUESTION: [inaudible] Somali?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Because this was a place where we knew that there were good projects to look at, which I could learn a lot.

QUESTION:  Final question.  The US has been at the forefront of humanitarian assistance when it comes to drought response following the drought that this country has faced within the past two years.  Do you believe the proposed project will allow you to continue this humanitarian assistance?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  I am very confident that the American people will always stand by others in need.  It is in our history.  So, when drought, emergency crisis occurs, compassioned Americans will always come to help.  I think we will also look for ways to help people help themselves.  Every human being wants the ability to lead him or herself and we want to, if we can in our small way help with that, then that’s good.

QUESTION:  Do you believe the proposed budget for Congress for the next fiscal year will allow you to continue what you have been doing?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  We will have what we need to be able to respond to a humanitarian crisis.  I am very confident in that.

Last updated: August 31, 2017

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