USAID to Focus on ‘Quick-Impact’ Projects in Pakistan

The U.S. Agency for International Development would generally focus on quick-impact projects such as providing tools to farmers and clearing irrigation systems to jump-start reconstruction efforts in Pakistan, which have been delayed or hampered by violence, said Edward Birgells, the agency’s regional director in northwest Pakistan.

“In the next two or three weeks we are going to start these programs big time, principally in terms of the water supply and the electricity,” Birgells told Reuters.

The goal, according to the USAID official, is to get conflict-affected places back “the way they were before the war.” Development projects will come soon after because it is hard to talk to people about development when they have no electricity, water and other basic necessities, Birgells added.

Birgells acknowledged that USAID plans could fall through, especially in highly volatile places where locals are wary of openly saying that they are employed by the agency because of security reasons.

USAID also plans to monitor the economic assistance that Pakistan would receive under the Kerry-Lugar Law. USAID will be assisted in the monitoring effort by private and public sector actors, according to U.S. Coordinator for Civilian Assistance Robin Raphel.

USAID will track the flow of money through software and spot checking, among other means, Raphel said, according to the News. On the flow of funds, the U.S. official explained that the money will first be spent and then monitored since USAID officials have limited movement in Pakistan. Gaps in the monitoring will be covered by private Pakistan accounting firms, Raphel added.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.