USAID Policy and Program Guidance

While we cannot stop shocks from happening, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) can – and must – do more to help people withstand them. USAID has been in the vanguard of international momentum to support country and regional plans and build resilience to recurrent crisis. Through this policy and program guidance, we will leverage the broad range of our institutional capabilities to implement innovative programmatic approaches to promote resilience. Through these efforts, we will draw on our mandates to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance and longer-term development assistance1 (including our Development Assistance, Global Health, and Economic Support Funds accounts).


While the concept of resilience has broad applicability to many of the environments in which our Agency works, this guidance is specifically focused on areas where chronic poverty intersects with shocks and stresses to produce recurrent crises and undermine development gains. In these places, we must increase adaptive capacity – the ability to respond quickly and effectively to new circumstances – and improve the ability to address and reduce risk.

We will emphasize approaches that empower women and more effectively reduce gaps between males and females. Functioning institutions of good governance and democratic accountability are also essential; building resilient countries and systems requires effective and inclusive governments that hold themselves accountable for results. Working closely with other U.S. Government agencies, international donors, multilateral organizations, and other partners, we will elevate and support inclusive country-led plans that lead to sustainable reductions in vulnerability and promote inclusive growth.


Our success in achieving these goals requires that we establish resilience to recurrent crisis as a common objective across our development and humanitarian programs. While we will maintain both the lifesaving speed of humanitarian assistance and the longer-term focus of development assistance, we will also identify opportunities to layer, integrate, and sequence these core capabilities to achieve results.


Our efforts to build resilience will contribute to a sustainable reduction in vulnerability and more inclusive growth. In this pursuit and in the areas where we apply this policy and program guidance, we intend that our efforts will result in:

  • increased adaptive capacity
  • improved ability to address and reduce risk
  • improved social and economic conditions of vulnerable populations

Over the long-term, we envision that these results will collectively contribute to reduced humanitarian need, and metrics will be developed to capture these results.

Ultimately, we seek to save and improve lives. In the Horn of Africa, for example, we aim to benefi t directly 10 million people and reduce the region’s emergency caseload by 1 million people within 5 years. We are defining a comparable expectation for impact in the Sahel, based on local conditions, and will likewise develop metrics for impact in other focus countries and regions moving forward.

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