Rajiv Shah Defends USAID Branding Policy

By Ma. Rizza Leonzon 26 October 2010

The logo of the U.S. Agency for International Development displayed on boxes containing relief supplies for shipment to earthquake-ravaged areas in Haiti. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said the policy of branding U.S. aid in partner nations is a matter of transparency. Photo by: USAID

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.

>> In Pakistan, Aid Agencies Want to Do Away with US Aid Branding

>> In Pakistan, Striking a Balance Between Visibility and Aid Workers’ Security

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.’”

About the author

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Ma. Rizza Leonzon

As a staff writer, Rizza focuses mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID. She covers breaking business news particularly at the ADB and has conducted interviews with specialists from the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank and other top players in international development. Rizza also contributes to the daily Development Newswire and other Devex publications.


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