Rajiv Shah has cited the principle of transparency as reason for the necessity to display the logo of the U.S. Agency for International Development on U.S.-funded aid.
“We believe that people in Haiti, Pakistan and elsewhere have a right to know where their assistance is coming from. And American taxpayers have a right to know where their dollars are going,” the USAID chief writes in The Huffington Post. “International aid operations can be complex, with many organizations, local officials and donor nations working together. Transparency helps reduce the chances that funds and supplies are misdirected or misused,”
Shah’s op-ed comes amid warnings by aid groups working in flood-ravaged Pakistan that using the USAID logo comprises their neutrality and attracts violent attacks.
Shah acknowledges that the policy can pose risks and challenges to aid workers including those from non-governmental organizations and charities lacking resources or protection of official government agencies.
“That is why we carefully tailor our decisions on where and how much to label aid to the risks in any given area. We closely monitor evidence of security threats and, when necessary for the safety of workers, provide waivers that allow them to distribute unlabeled aid. We do this in the most dangerous areas of Pakistan,” he notes.
Shah says the Obama administration is committed to ensuring the safety of USAID partners on the ground, but the government needs “to be honest and transparent about America’s commitments, for our people’s sake and theirs.”
He concludes: “Wherever possible, we will extend our hand openly and confidently and label our assistance, ‘From the American People.’”