Deputy Administrator Glick's Remarks for Evidence Summit on Strategic Religious Engagement

Thursday, October 8, 2020

[As Prepared]

Hello everyone. I’m Bonnie Glick, the Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

I want to thank you for your participation in this year’s Evidence Summit, the twelfth of its kind and the first to focus on the topic of strategic religious engagement. I’m also very grateful to our Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives for hosting this event, and to our co-conveners—the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Institute of Peace—for their collaboration to make this summit possible.

I want to give you a real-life example of how engaging with religious organizations and communities provides benefits that are hard to duplicate with other partners.

USAID’s Tonga Community Disaster Risk Management Program trains community members in 51 towns and villages throughout the country to prepare for natural disasters. The councils that these community members form develop their own, locally tailored Village Emergency Response Plans to ensure that every part of Tonga is resilient in the face of flooding, tsunamis, and cyclones.

This program has full buy-in from the national government of Tonga, but it is the Tonga National Council of Churches that uses connections in every community to implement it. In doing so, they partner with Act for Peace, which is the international aid agency for the National Council of Churches in Australia. This one program connects the local, national, and international church communities to ensure that each is bringing its unique capacities to bear.

Of course, we all know that anecdotes are not evidence, but the Tonga Community Disaster Risk Management program illustrates the kinds of results we can achieve. Religious partners often have an understanding and trust at the local level and access to global networks of support. This enhances their ability to build capacity from the bottom up and so, accelerates communities’ progress on their Journey to Self-Reliance.

Given the value that strategic engagement with religious organizations can provide, we need to make sure we are doing it right.

USAID has gathered all of you together with the belief that your diverse perspectives will make for lively and productive dialogue that in turn will inform our own programs.

As we wind down the summit, it’s time to take what you have heard and discussed this week and share your conclusions with us. As you provide your feedback, please bear in mind the 3Ps framework we’ve created to collect, distill, and integrate your inputs. The insights you provide will give us the evidence base we need to develop policy, practices, and principles to help USAID integrate strategic religious engagement more effectively into our work.

Thank you all for your participation this week and for your contributions to this important conversation.

Last updated: October 14, 2020

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