While Southern Africa has seen significant economic growth achievements, the overall number of people living in poverty has grown over the past two decades. Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa have some of the highest levels of income inequality in the world. Since 1995, we have maintained a regional program in Southern Africa that has evolved over time to address the changing development challenges of the sub-region. Our programs increase trade and strengthen regional economic ties, address the HIV/AIDS crisis, mitigate food insecurity, and support democratic processes. Our regional program is headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa, and complements country-specific programs by addressing cross-border issues and common development needs.
In March 1995, USAID established the Regional Center for Southern Africa in Gaborone, Botswana, to develop, implement, and manage the Initiative for Southern Africa. This initiative spearheaded regional programs that would open markets, attract investment, increase participation of disadvantaged groups in all segments of the regional economy, strengthen democracies, expand the production of food and fiber, and develop and utilize the region’s impressive natural resource base in an environmentally sensitive manner.
In 2008, the regional program relocated to Pretoria, South Africa. USAID/Southern Africa is working towards a goal of a more integrated region for an improved quality of life for Southern Africans. As a comparative advantage of a regional mission, USAID/Southern Africa is able to provide regional analysis of and a regional approach to development challenges. Work conducted by the Regional Mission strengthens the regional enabling environment, develops the regional capacity through networks and institutions, and builds upon already successful regional programs such as the Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH). USAID/Southern Africa will achieve these goals through partnerships with regional organizations and institutions, some of which are based in South Africa. Regional efforts will complement USAID’s bilateral work with the South African Government in delivering trilateral assistance to countries in SADC and beyond.
The trilateral assistance program will continue to be managed as part of USAID’s bilateral partnership with the South African Government as they move towards the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Agency. The regional mission will also strive to work closely with the U.S. State Department and other U.S. Agencies to harmonize regional diplomacy and development goals under the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Furthermore, the USAID/Southern Africa Regional Mission provides holistic, strategic guidance for programs that seek to integrate into the Southern Africa region, both politically and economically, across national boundaries without creating disjointed and redundant interventions. The Regional Mission serves to multiply the individual efforts of bilateral missions by leveraging complementary projects, identifying program and project gaps, and offering technical support to client missions.