As the budget battle continues in the U.S., the Obama administration is upholding its strong support for foreign aid programs in fiscal 2012, which are being targeted for cuts. This week, several U.S. aid officials have defended robust U.S. foreign aid funding before the Senate and House of Representatives.
Nisha Desai Biswal, assistant administrator for Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development, on Thursday (April 14) fleshed out the priorities of her agency in Central Asia.
USAID will help the region develop reliable energy networks, Biswal told the House subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia. Investments in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are the agency’s largest bilateral programs in Central Asia, Biswal said.
For Kyrgyzstan, the Obama administration is seeking $42.5 million for fiscal 2012, which will be used to strengthen democracy and human rights, combat corruption in the judiciary, create opportunities for youth, and reconcile ethnic communities. Meanwhile, some $42 million is requested for Tajikistan to help bolster food security and agriculture in the country.
Also on Thursday, Millennium Challenge Corp. Vice President of Compact Operations Patrick Fine and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs to defend U.S. aid investments in Africa.
Fine said 70 percent of MCC funds are allotted for partner African countries. He reiterated MCC’s focus on private sector development in approving subsequent compacts, as well as legislative changes to allow the use of concurrent compacts.
Meantime, Goosby again underscored efforts to promote country ownership of projects backed by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Other U.S. aid officials including USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel Yohannes also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday (April 13).
Read more about U.S. development aid.