Foreign aid investments in Afghanistan and global food security are among the flagship projects in the U.S. government’s international affairs portfolio. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah shared how the Obama administration ensures the effective use of limited U.S. funding for these projects.
In a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday (April 13), Shah said his agency has outlined certification requirements for Afghan projects in a bid to to improve the vetting process and project oversight.
To bolster visibility and vetting, contract sizes of USAID projects in Afghanistan are broken down, Shah said, adding that the agency is collapsing layers of subcontracts. USAID has also implemented a more rigorous vendor vetting system, put in place aggressive financial controls and increased the number of its staff in the Islamic nation.
Shah said they have not yet certified a specific program.
Meanwhile, the USAID chief assured that the funding request for the Feed the Future initiative will be used to advance the broader agenda of helping countries develop their own agricultural sectors in order to move away from food aid.
In the Obama administration’s fiscal 2012 funding request, some $1.1 billion is sought for Feed the Future, $308 million for a World Bank trust fund for food security and another $1.69 million for food for peace.
These funding requests are all fully coordinated, according to Shah, noting that USAID has developed specific food security plans for each country and on what role the World Bank will play.
Also present in Wednesday’s hearing were USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Mark Feierstein and State Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela. The two officials reiterated plans to downsize U.S. foreign aid investments and promote citizen security in their respective regions.
Read more about U.S. development aid.