10 September 2002
Hope Is an Answer to Terror
(U.S. launches new development initiatives after terrorist attacks)
(The following interview with two experts in private sector assistance
and sustainable development activities appears in the International
Information Programs Electronic Journal "September 11: One Year Later"
issued in September 2002. This article and the rest of the journal may
be viewed on the Web at
Hope Is an Answer to Terror
George Carpenter, Procter & Gamble
Dr. Robert K. Pelant, Heifer International
(The hostility expressed through the terrorist attacks motivated the
United States to reenergize its efforts to reduce poverty and
deprivation in the rest of the world.)
The United States policy toward development assistance is based on the
belief that poverty provides a breeding ground for disease and
deprivation, and potentially for crime, corruption, and ultimately
terrorism. The terrorist attacks of September 11 reaffirmed this
conviction, and donors -- government, private, and corporate -- are
pursuing their goals to bring hope and opportunity to the world's
poorest people with renewed vigor. Two experts involved in private
sector assistance and sustainable development activities discussed the
evolving views in this field with Global Issues Managing Editor
Dr. Robert K. Pelant is director of the Asia/South Pacific Programs
for the non-profit organization Heifer International, devoted to
helping hungry people in the world develop the resources to feed
themselves. Heifer, with programs in 47 countries providing livestock
and agriculture training, has been recognized by independent
evaluators as among the most effective and innovative U.S. charities.
Dr. Pelant is a veterinarian who specializes in international animal
health and welfare program development.
George Carpenter is director of Corporate Sustainable Development for
the Procter & Gamble Corporation, and is actively involved in the
corporation's multinational assistance programs focused on
environment, health, and social issues in developing countries.
Procter & Gamble has operations in 80 countries, and independent
organizations have rated the company among the best corporate
Question: How did the events of September 11, the resulting focus on
terrorism, and the causes of terrorism contribute to a reexamination
of the development assistance programs in which your organizations are
Carpenter: At Procter & Gamble, our appreciation for the need for
stability in countries around the world has been increasing for the
last several years. Particularly since September 11, we've focused on
strong national governance as a prerequisite or base foundation that
is necessary for sustainable development. Without the enforced rule of
law, without a rules-based economic system, absence of corruption and
bribery, you are just not going to get the investments you need in
developing countries to solve the kind of environmental, economic, and
social issues that exist there. Nations need the investments by
companies such as mine to raise the quality of life of the citizens,
lift them out of poverty and into a productive lifestyle that benefits
from the global economy.
Q: President Bush launched significant new aid initiatives for the
developing world in the months following the attack, and he said at
the time, "We fight against poverty because hope is an answer to
terror." Dr. Pelant, how did the terrorist incidents refocus your
thinking at Heifer International?
Pelant: In several ways. Obviously we already had security concerns
for national and international staff around the world, but these
events heightened our awareness and we've begun reassessing additional
training on security for offices and staff around the world. We also
have reexamined just how we go about our work, specifically in the
case of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've been in Afghanistan since 1997
and in Pakistan since the 1980s.
The overriding point is that this kind of development assistance is
the right thing to do. We agree with President Bush's remark that you
quoted above -- about fighting poverty because hope is an answer to
terror. But these kinds of development programs are also simply the
right thing to do, in and of themselves, as no one should live with
Q: You mention operational changes in programs in Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Heifer International also operates programs in other nations
where terrorist activity has been a concern, notably Indonesia and the
Philippines. Tell us more about your operations in these environments.
Pelant: Our Philippines programs -- as with almost all of our programs
around the world -- are run by local nationals. One local partner
group is an umbrella organization bringing together Muslim and
Christian groups. We also work directly with several different Muslim
organizations working in very poor parts of the country. Because of
the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization and ongoing security problems
there, even our local national staff has had to change their work
schedules and their time spent in the field in light of security
concerns. However, those programs continue, and we haven't reduced any
of our funding there, and we continue to work with these
organizations. They know these are U.S.-funded programs, but because
we've built up long-term relations with these communities and
organizations they trust our staff to go in and do the basic
humanitarian development work.
Q: What is that basic work? Describe it more fully.
Pelant: Our program in the Philippines has a number of main themes.
Improving the environment is a central one. We're also helping people
to move from the economically and otherwise marginalized sector of
society to become productive members of society, and helping people
make their communities more vital. We're bringing people together to
work on issues of income generation, food production, and improving
their own environment. We do this in various types of partnerships,
which often include local governments. They also include local
corporations and/or businesses, forging a "win-win-win" situation
where we can bring about a much more holistic and sustained
transformation in these communities, oftentimes across national
When you say Heifer, people think cows, pigs, goats, or rabbits, but
these animals are really just some of the tools of a much more
holistic development program that's aimed at transforming communities
and the environment.
Q: Mr. Carpenter, what about Procter & Gamble and its specific
activities on the ground? Are you also working to develop partnerships
similar to what Dr. Pelant describes?
Carpenter: We are. There is conventional corporate philanthropy, but
that is very limited and is a small percentage of the resources a
corporation has. We have made contributions to children's relief
efforts in Afghanistan. We have some relief efforts going on with
improved sanitation tied to our brand work and our established
business that exists in Pakistan.
But the more exciting thing for me, that has almost unlimited
potential to improve development in many of these countries, is some
of the work that we're doing to make sustainable development part of
our business, to go beyond the conventional notion of corporate
responsibility. We want to link the future of our business to
solutions for some of these development issues that we're facing
around the world. One example of that is in Venezuela where we have a
product in the market right now that significantly reduces childhood
micronutrient malnutrition -- deficiencies of Vitamin A, iron, and
iodine. We have worked closely with the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF)
both in the development and marketing of that product. They've done
clinical studies in Africa, and social marketing, developing awareness
of the problem of micronutrient malnutrition.
We're also heavily involved in sanitation and clean water, looking at
these problems to determine whether we can contribute to solving them
through the marketplace. If we could, through the consumer
marketplace, create point-of-use disinfection of water, or sanitation
at the household level, or solve problems of micronutrient
malnutrition, we think a huge breakthrough could be made in solving
some of these quality of life issues in these countries.
We have already, with our existing brands and product lines, worked in
the areas of women's health and hygiene and in dental hygiene, where
awareness of these subjects did not exist in many developing and
emerging economies. Working with local ministries of health, we have
developed social marketing programs to raise awareness and, in the
process, have built a market for consumer-based solutions to some of
Q: September 11 and the terrorist threat have caused a reevaluation of
development assistance, but a longer-term reevaluation has also been
underway as organizations try to determine what aid programs have
achieved, whether they've worked, whether they've had unforeseen
outcomes. At the same time, political support for development
assistance eroded considerably in the post-Cold War period. Some
congressional leaders have looked on this outlay of U.S. funds with
derision. How have these factors come to bear on changes in the
delivery of development assistance, and increased concerns about
results and accountability?
Pelant: Heifer and many other nonprofits have focused their efforts on
impact and accountability for quite some time. They're really hasn't
been any change on the screen since September 11 or because of
September 11. Our development approach is actually a values-based
approach and we work in a very participatory way with local
communities, businesses, governments, etc. Those things have always
been front and center for us.
Still, there is no question that some in the U.S. government and other
places do look on the outlay of development assistance funds with
derision, as you've said. The U.S. lags behind many other countries in
percentages of funds related to gross domestic product (GDP) given for
development. So now is certainly a time when the U.S. government could
establish a more firm leadership role in international development
assistance of the kind that has been proven to be effective.
An example is inside the Department of State where the Bureau of East
Asian and Pacific Affairs and the consulate in Chengdu China, have
been extremely helpful and positive regarding an initiative to benefit
small-scale farmers and rural people in Tibet. The U.S. government has
a tremendous opportunity to increase its leadership role here.
But one more thing about the climate generally over the last few
months. Since September 11, as well as before that date, Heifer has
been blessed by the generosity of the American public -- individuals,
foundations, businesses, churches, and the like.
Q: Mr. Carpenter, from the corporate perspective, how have you seen
the climate of opinion about assistance efforts change in the months
since September 11?
Carpenter: I'm not sure it's directly attributable to September 11,
but in the last seven to nine months there's been a clear shift in
thinking within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
and any number of other U.S. government agencies on the willingness to
open up and look at business as one of the partners in development
projects, along with the traditional NGO and other donors. That is a
brand new mindset, one that is emerging and growing rapidly with
experience. It's certainly, I think, a very healthy change.
The other thing I think is very healthy is one that I mentioned
earlier, and that is, this attention to the issue of national
governance. There is an increasing recognition of the necessity for a
system of stability and predictability in national governance,
government that is rules-based, an economic system that is
rules-based. Without it, most companies will never be able to go into
business in some of these nations, and will never get the opportunity
to help raise these countries out of poverty. We just cannot
successfully do business where the local culture is to pay bribes. So
this recognition of the importance of good national governance to
sustainable development is a very healthy change.
Q: You've mentioned a new emphasis on partnership. This is a concept
that's being promoted recently by the Bush administration and
international development organizations as a new strategy for success.
Where do you see the productive potential in these relationships?
Carpenter: Effective partnerships take many months to put together and
they only work if they're win-win for all parties, so it's not the
kind of thing you can brainstorm today and sign on the dotted line
The GAIN initiative -- Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition -- was
announced at the U.N. Special Session on Children in May 2002. It
involves USAID, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNICEF,
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Procter & Gamble, and a number of
other national development agencies and private sector companies. At
that session, Procter & Gamble pledged the availability of some of the
food fortification technology that stands behind our NutriStar product
in Venezuela to see if that technology could be applied to staple
foods in the least developed countries to address this problem of
micronutrient malnutrition. Five years ago, even two years ago, you
never would have thought of business being included in a partnership
like that, other than as a source for donations.
Pelant: I agree. No doubt about it that the classic approach would be
for an NGO to go to a corporation and seek a one-time grant or
something like that.
One of the things Heifer did about a year ago is to bring in a
director of corporate relations, and Heifer has taken a strategic
decision to engage the private enterprise sector in the United States
and overseas. We're all very excited about that. We believe that there
can be many positive situations, and it's already been demonstrated.
One example in our experience is in China. Heifer, local government,
local private enterprise, and the community have joined in an exciting
We're working to help improve food production on the community side
and marketing and distribution on the business side. As an example,
we're helping honeybee farmers to improve the quantity and quality of
their production. The farmers then connect with the business people in
the process, who gain access to a better product and a more consistent
supply. This benefits communities at large by increasing agricultural
productivity, overall economic activity, and, in turn, the standard of
living. The government has recognized this and is helping to expand
the program. This is even more important now with their recent
accession into the World Trade Organization.
Carpenter: In India, we created a market-based promotion to raise
money for child education, taking kids off the streets, getting them
in schools. This was the Open Minds program, in which Procter & Gamble
partnered with UNICEF. That effort was coupled with a solicitation of
donations from our employees, who were very generous. We also moved
down our supply and distribution chains to get support from our
business partners. Advertising agencies and entertainers volunteered
their time. So a small effort organized by a couple of core leaders
was magnified many times by moving up and down our supply and
distribution chains and related people we work with to create a
significant initiative on a national scale in India to put kids in
So there are lots of creative ways to go about this work. We're just
at the beginning, trying to understand how partnerships can be put
together to address some of the issues we face in the world today.
Q: How are your constituencies -- your boards of directors, your
donors, your regional offices -- responding to these new ideas?
Pelant: We're finding that the people who know Heifer and know our
long-term approaches at the grass roots level to build up
relationships with communities, governments, and businesses are
responding very favorably. We've had a surge in income specifically
for expanding our program in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
When we were in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, we worked while the
Taliban was in control. We had selective training for formerly
professional women. They were very carefully and intentionally
reaching out to illiterate women in their communities, teaching
improved animal management, as well as human sanitation and hygiene
issues, some things you may not normally associate with Heifer.
After building this connection with the professional women, we were
then able to get a foothold in the communities. That enabled us to
reach out to women in households who were in need of other assistance
programs more traditionally associated with Heifer -- the provision of
quality animals, with training on how to manage them. Some received
locally-adapted poultry, so then they'll have a few eggs a week, with
high-quality protein in their diets that they otherwise wouldn't have.
Our donors know we're taking this long-term view, with this
participatory approach, and they've responded very, very favorably.
Q: What do these programs reflect about American values?
Carpenter: I don't know that there's any place else on Earth where the
normal everyday citizen is as generous as Americans are. That
generosity is part of the American culture. We see it in our own
employees, and in the communities where we work and live. To some
degree, the volunteer techniques we've used in this country and the
sense of working with community is a distinguishing difference we see
as we move our business to other countries. American cultural values
get exported -- the role of the corporation and its obligation to the
community and its employees, and the American culture of generosity.
That willingness to step in when other people are in need -- to open
up your hearts and pocketbooks, to give your own labor -- is almost
Pelant: Agreed. We are sometimes overwhelmed with ways and degrees
that people are giving. We'll go and visit people who say they want to
donate several thousand dollars, and we'll see their house and wonder
how these people could have several hundred dollars to give. The
generosity is very widespread, and it's a wonderful characteristic of
the people of this country. We're also finding thoughtful, generous
givers in a number of other countries.
Q: What's in the future of these efforts?
Pelant: For civil society, an increased focus on results, and an
understanding that the subjective issues can be very important. There
is a healthy increased awareness in donor communities, and thus the
responsibility to report accurately, frequently, and transparently --
this must continue. At Heifer, we continue to look for opportunities
for collaboration with corporations and governments, and continue to
work to tear down the concept of North versus South, or "us versus
them." In fact, we all live in one single biosphere, on one Earth, and
our actions do affect others' lives and livelihoods. We don't need
more technologies -- just the will to follow through with what is
already working, so we can be opportunity-seekers more than just
Carpenter: The partnership of private corporations, NGOs, government,
and civil society in these projects is still in its emerging phases.
But it's going to bring a breakthrough change in the results we see.
It's going to open up whole new possibilities that people don't even
see today. I know within my own corporation, as we have looked at some
of the issues of clean water, health, hygiene, and nutrition, the
mindset of our people is, "This is a solvable problem." They begin to
address these problems in traditional business ways - asking, "What
does it take to make this happen?" -- often moving outside of
conventional approaches. We are going to make huge progress,
breakthrough improvements, towards the U.N. Millennium Goals (1), over
what we've done in the last decade.
(1) The U.N. Millennium Development Goals were adopted by 189 states
in September 2000. The members committed to support eradication of
extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender
equality and other critical objectives. Further information is
available at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals
(Porter spoke in a telephone conference call with Carpenter at Procter
& Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pelant at Heifer
International headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas.)
(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the interview
subjects and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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