As U.S. legislators continue to debate belt-tightening measures on fiscal spending, the U.S. Agency for International Development is gearing up for the phaseout of two of its missions in Latin America and the Caribbean to help save costs. The aid agency will close its mission and “wind down” its programs in Panama, and plans to administer its projects for Guyana from one of its regional offices, USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Mark Feierstein told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 17.

In the global health sector, USAID aims to become a platform that will more rapidly scale innovative health interventions to a larger market, the agency’s chief, Rajiv Shah, said Feb. 15 in an address to the staff of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama in August reportedly ordered Gayle Smith, the White House senior director on development and democracy, and other top advisers, to put together a “secret” report on unrest in the Arab world. The U.S. is offering $150 million in aid to Egypt, where an 18-day protest ousted Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

The State Department launched 1 Feb. 16 a strategic dialogue with civil society to help promote democracy and good governance worldwide – the first time the department has held talks with any group other than a government, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a Feb. 17 talk in Brussels, European Union humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva made it clear that she opposes any plan to merge the bloc’s humanitarian aid and crisis management budgets after 2013.

South Africa and the French Development Agency, meanwhile, are expected to sign a €1 billion ($1.36 billion) deal during South African President Jacob Zuma’s upcoming visit to France.

Appointments:

Charlotte Petri Gornitzka – director general of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Changyong Rhee – chief economist at the Asian Development Bank.

Marc Grossman – U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.