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September 24, 2009

The "USAID Continues to Get Shafted" Watch
Posted by Michael Cohen

Back in the Spring I wrote a few posts commenting on the Obama Administration's perceived lack of commitment to global development by noting that it had been more than 100 days of a new Administration and there was still no head of the Agency for International Development.

Well guess what, it's now around 250 and we still have no AID director.

In a strongly worded letter from John Kerry and Richard Lugar to the President they note that AID is the last major government agency to remain unfilled. That is ridiculous and considering the tenuous position that AID finds itself the need for a strong leader - or any leader for that matter - is incredibly important.

As Lugar and Kerry note, "USAID and its development perspective are conspicuously absent from our most significant foreign policy challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq." What's more, AID needs to have a strong voice at the table in ongoing QDDR discussions (it is after all the Diplomacy and Development Review).

I know there's a lot going on these days with health care and Afghanistan, but if the Obama Administration is serious about improving US development policy and making it a key pillar of American foreign policy then they need to get someone at AID tout suite.


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Meanwhile, dozens of USAID people and their contractors are streaming into Afghanistan WITH A PLAN. If this is such a crisis, then how is the activity in Afghanistan occurring? I've run into some of the USAID folks, and not one has been in the least bit concerned about not having a Director.

Damn, Michael... are you straining on this issue, or what?

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USAID is one of the largest and oldest international development agencies and is well known in Bolivia, especially in rural areas where thousands of projects have been implemented. USAID has been providing assistance to Bolivia since the 1960s.

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