USAID gives peanuts to region

USGOV: USAID Assistance in East Asia and the Pacific

[Overview, Indonesia and Timor excerpts – JMM/ETAN ]








September 20, 2007

Mr. Chairman and other distinguished members of the committee, thank you
for inviting me to appear before you today. I am pleased to have this
opportunity to share the perspective of the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) on the subject of this hearing:
U.S. Assistance in
East Asia and the Pacific: An Overview.

Let me begin, Mr. Chairman, by saying that this hearing provides an
important focus on a region of the world – East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) –
that is both dynamic and evolving. The EAP contains a third of the world’s
population, some of the most rapidly expanding economies and some very
poor and politically repressed countries. I think we would all agree that the
region represents both opportunity and challenge for making the most of
U.S. resources to advance policies and relationships throughout the region.

As growth and change have occurred in the EAP region, development
priorities have shifted as well, allowing USAID to shift personnel and
funding to meet evolving needs. The USAID presence in the region is both
bilateral and regional. We operate programs in eleven countries, delivering
assistance through individual country missions. the USAID Regional
Development Mission Asia (RDMA) in Bangkok, Thailand and from our
base in Washington, D.C. This combination of delivery mechanisms allows
USAID to work effectively and efficiently with host governments, with
other international donors and with Asian regional membership groups to fill
gaps in services, care, skills and systems that keep societies from advancing.
We are building social, political and economic foundations throughout the
region that will support free, open, tolerant and participatory societies on a
long term basis.

I believe we are making good progress. USAID financial and technical
support is girding evolving democracies in such places as Indonesia,
Mongolia and Timor Leste; playing a role in focusing rule of law, anticorruption
and human rights reforms in Cambodia and China; and,on
improving the lives of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons
from Burma living along the border in Thailand. Our education programs in
the region – including President Bush’s education initiative in Indonesia –
are helping to prepare both the current and the next generation of citizens for
a greater role in shaping their own futures as members of their countries’
workforces and electorates. Critical programs in disease prevention and
treatment – HIV/AIDS, TB, avian influenza, malaria and dengue fever – and
in maternal and child health – are improving health and the delivery of
related services in Vietnam and throughout East Asia. These investments,
coupled with others that support economic growth on a sustainable basis –
such as USAID’s assistance to the Philippines in environmental
management, trade and competitiveness – aim to produce dividends in jobs,
health and security that reach into all levels of society, thus reducing the
likelihood of conflict and countering terrorist propaganda.

In recognizing that the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region is prone to largescale
natural disasters that can cause serious setbacks to development,
USAID is continuing to help governments and communities prepare for and
respond to environmental calamities: in Aceh Province in Indonesia since
the 2004 tsunami, in Vietnam, and more recently, by helping the Solomon
Islands recover from its devastating tsunami last April and providing
humanitarian assistance to N. Korea following the flood in August.

USAID’s programming of approximately $339 million in fiscal year 2007
concentrates assistance in Indonesia and the Philippines – key countries in
the effort to reduce terrorist influence and build democratic states – and in
Cambodia, a key, politically-fragile country. Smaller USAID bilateral
programs in Mongolia and Timor Leste are important components for
achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives, as are countries served by the
regional mission in Bangkok such as Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. In
Vietnam, for example, the USG has mounted one of its most concentrated
efforts to prevent and treat infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS.

We are working in a difficult budget environment and recognize the need to
fund national security priorities in Iraq and Afghanistan but other
considerations also come into play, such as the relative advancement of
countries within the EAP. It’s important to point out that more than any
other region in the world, the EAP is home to states like Singapore and
Malaysia whose economies and societies have advanced to the point where
the U.S. can serve more as a partner than a donor. We have significant
assistance programs in Indonesia and the Philippines, two countries that
have the potential to influence the entire region..

Generally, funding for foreign assistance programs in the EAP region allows
USAID to mount interventions that will help to close the gaps that keep
recipient countries from reaching their potential within their own borders
and on the world stage. We leverage funds by coordinating with other
donors and particularly with the private sector, thus allowing USAID to
apply its resources – financial and human – as widely and effectively as

The remaining portions of this statement will provide brief descriptions of
country programs in the EAP region.

Country Programs

Indonesia ($137 million in FY 2007): Indonesia, home to the world’s
largest Muslim majority, has emerged as a moderate Islamic, democratic
state. To support conditions that will allow democratic processes to flourish,
USAID invests in education, health care, local government accountability
and business environment transparency. USAID is also continuing to
provide humanitarian assistance to victims of the tsunami in Banda Aceh.
Particular areas of effort and achievement include:

* Environmental programs to assist Indonesia in managing and
conserving forests through greater transparency and local participation
in resource management. In 2007,USAID launched a 3 year, $8
million crisis program for orangutan conservation; and, the U.S. will
provide seed funding for an initiative to preserve Indonesia’s coral
triangle, which contains over half of the world’s coral reefs.

* In 2003, President Bush announced a five-year, $157 million initiative
to improve the quality of basic education throughout Indonesia. To
date, it has reached over 300,000 students as well as 24,000
administrators and teachers in 1,500 Indonesian public and private
schools; it is expected to have an impact on 650,000 students within
the next three years.

* U.S. efforts to consolidate democratic reforms have helped 57 local
governments to improve planning and management, provide services
directly to citizens and involve them in government decisions that
affect their lives.

* USAID is also bringing the action directly to the Indonesian people
through projects that improve access to clean water and local level
health service delivery, especially for maternal and newborn care.

* The USG provided key technical assistance to the Ministry of
Women’s Empowerment and Parliament on the development of antitrafficking
legislation. The bill was signed into law in 2007and stands
as a powerful tool in the effort to prosecute and convict traffickers.

* USAID’s Avian Influenza Participatory Disease Surveillance and
activities have produced the first systematic reporting of
outbreaks among poultry in Indonesia. Teams, active in 166 of the
highest risk districts nationwide, are finding and responding to poultry

Timor Leste ($19.8 M in FY 2007): Timor Leste gained its independence
in 2002, after 24 years of Indonesian occupation. It is also one of the ten
poorest countries in the world, affected by its limited trading capacity, island
status and mountainous terrain, and poor infrastructure.

Despite these challenges, Timor-Leste made considerable progress in
establishing a democratic state and revitalizing its own economy. In 2006, it
was one of 23 countries worldwide designated as eligible for assistance from
the MCA. However, in that same year, internal violence threatened this
progress politically and resulted in a displaced population of 150,000

USAID is responding to the current political and security crisis by providing
support for the humanitarian needs of the displaced population, while at the
same time continuing to support the country’s long-term development.
Programs are aimed at helping Timor-Leste revitalize its economy by
assisting the government in drafting laws that will improve the environment
for business start-ups and global trade and provide for uncontested property

* USAID provides training in management for businesses of all sizes
and types, including, for example, farming, so that the farmers can
move from subsistence to more commercially viable agricultural

* U.S. technical assistance supporting Timor-Leste’s 2007 presidential
and parliamentary elections contributed to the first peaceful transfer of
power in the country’s history. Activities focused on training of
election monitors, journalists, and party leaders, as well as assisting
the independent National Elections Commission and the
Government’s Technical Secretariat for Election Administration. All
international observers consider the elections to have been free and

* USAID has helped support transparency in government through
training of independent media groups and expanding the quality and
reach of the public broadcast system. USAID support for the
government’s legal information campaign reached more than 10,000
citizens with information about new laws and their rights.

* In the health arena, USAID works to improve child and maternal
mortality rates through programs to educate mothers and their
children about best health practices. And USAID programs
addressing prevention and control of the endemic diseases of malaria,
TB, dengue fever, HIV/AIDS and avian influenza.

* With USAID support, the Cooperative Café Timor has become the
largest producer and distributor of organic coffee in the country with
more than 20,000 farm family members and more than 3,000
Timorese employees.

Transformational Diplomacy in the Region – the Foreign Assistance

In FY 2007, USAID resources for the region were allocated as follows:

Investing in People receives the largest share of the foreign assistance
request at 41%, primarily to fight diseases, educate people and support
Presidential initiatives. The President’s Education Initiative in Indonesia,
health and education programs in Cambodia, family health and education
activities in the Philippines, and region-wide work in health implemented by
the Regional Development Mission for Asia showcase investing in people

Peace and Security represents nearly 24% of the budget, directed largely by
Department of State investments in issues such as counter-terrorism, but also
includes those that address transnational crime such as trafficking in persons
throughout the region.

At 22%, Economic Growth is reflected in robust programs such as those in
Vietnam where the modernized legal and economic policy framework has
helped to accelerate economic reforms and private sector development,
benefiting citizens at all levels of the society and integrating Vietnam into
the global economic system.

Governing Justly and Democratically – at 13% of the budget request –
advances U.S. foreign policy objectives, for example, helping Indonesia
become a democratic and moderate voice in the Muslim World. It also
promotes political competition and consensus building in vital countries
such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, and presses for
democratic change in Burma.

Lastly, Humanitarian Assistance – smallest category in terms of percent of
base funding (just under 4%) – the majority of these funds support assistance
for displaced Burmese on the Thailand-Burma border and builds on past
efforts to increase disaster response capabilities. I would note that this
category primarily advances support to vulnerable populations in their
current situations; it is not intended to provide for major disasters in the
region, which are covered largely by other funding when needs arise.

Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by thanking the Congress for organizing this
hearing today and providing a forum to discuss issues of importance to East
Asia and the Pacific. We appreciate all that your committee does to support
USAID’s efforts to build foundations that will sustain democracy, peace and
prosperity in the region. I look forward to taking your questions.

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