26 March 2003
USAID Strives to Minimizes Conditions That Foster Terrorism, West Says
(Asia-Near East official testifies before House subcommittee March 26)
The United States sees the need to promote stability as part of the
war against terrorism, according to the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) Deputy Assistant Administrator Gordon West.
In testimony March 26 before the House International Relations
subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, West said both Indonesia and the
Philippines were on the front lines in the war on terrorism.
West, who serves in USAID's Bureau for Asia and the Near East, said
U.S. aid efforts were focused on more than just traditional
development goals such as promoting democracy, economic development,
and improvements in health, and resource management.
"The U.S. National Security Strategy identifies development assistance
as one of the three pillars necessary to assure our national
security," West told lawmakers.
USAID, he continued, "plays a major role in minimizing the conditions
that foster terrorism, instability and other global threats."
In Southeast Asia, Gordon said, "poverty, disease, unemployment, lack
of education, and corruption all provide fertile breeding grounds for
terrorists and conflict."
In some countries in the region, he added, "political
disenfranchisement and disrespect for human rights exacerbate these
Under such conditions, he suggested, "some in this region may find
themselves drawn into terrorist groups."
Gordon said in Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor, "the
governments are committed to a democratic path, but there is much more
that we can do to help to make governments more accountable, give
citizens the tools they need to participate effectively in the
decisions that affect their lives, ensure all citizens have access to
political processes and strengthen the rule of law."
Following is the text of the March 26 prepared testimony of Deputy
Assistant Administrator Gordon West before the House International
Relations subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific:
The United States Agency for International Development
Prepared Testimony of Gordon West
Deputy Assistant Administrator
Bureau for Asia and the Near East
Before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
March 26, 2003
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate
this opportunity to speak with members of the Subcommittee. Our fight
against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan underscores the need to
promote stability around the world, but particularly in Southeast
Asia, where countries like Indonesia and the Philippines are on the
front lines in the war on terror. However, our work there is not
limited to combating terrorism, nor has it ever been. We have a long
history of promoting democracy, economic growth, health and natural
resource management in the region. Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt
Daley will address the key political factors and related budget
priorities for Southeast Asia, which our USAID programs continue to
The U.S. National Security Strategy identifies development assistance
as one of the three pillars necessary to assure our national security.
The U.S. Agency for International Development plays a major role in
minimizing the conditions that foster terrorism, instability and other
global threats. Under the leadership of Administrator Andrew Natsios,
USAID is committed to ensuring that development assistance firmly
supports U.S. national interests. We will take advantage of this
historic opportunity presented by the President's new vision for
development by closely examining what we do best, what we should be
doing more, and less, of and how best to move forward.
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) articulates a fresh and
practical framework for development. The MCA is built on the fact that
our aid is most effective in situations where governments are
democratic and accountable to their citizens. We will achieve more
effective results in economies that are open and corruption-free,
where governments invest in their people. By making explicit the
causal relationship between good governance and economic growth, the
President has provided an innovative formula for more effective
assistance. Our goal is to work with governments and their people to
create conditions in which all Southeast Asian countries could aspire
to meet the high standards for governance envisioned in the Millennium
We will continue the initiative we started last year to work in
public-private alliances, establishing new partnerships with the
private sector to leverage large amounts of additional resources
towards development objectives.
Conditions across Southeast Asia vary greatly, and we tailor our
responses accordingly. It is a region where many fragile states
threaten to become 'failed' ones, but it is also a region of
democratic promise. Our USAID programs support those countries that
are either struggling or moving steadily down the road to democracy,
economic prosperity and human dignity.
In Southeast Asia, poverty, disease, unemployment, lack of education,
and corruption all provide fertile breeding grounds for terrorists and
conflict. In some countries, political disenfranchisement and
disrespect for human rights exacerbate these problems. With some
governments unable to fulfill basic social and economic necessities,
some in this region may find themselves drawn into terrorist groups.
USAID has demonstrated its commitment to helping the people of
Southeast Asia change those conditions.
The USG supports the governments in the Philippines and Indonesia as
they fight against terrorism within their borders and internationally
as our partners. We support development of legislation and regulations
that directly fight terrorism, such as the successful passage of
anti-money laundering legislation to which we contributed.
Promoting democracy and good governance is a common thread in USAID's
work in East Asia. Corruption drains Southeast Asian economies of
millions of dollars each year, and many people in some countries lack
the basic human rights we often take for granted. USAID focuses on
helping governments address corruption head-on and supporting civil
society as it pressures governments to be transparent and accountable.
Elections in 2003 in Cambodia and in 2004 in Indonesia and the
Philippines are opportunities for citizens to strengthen good
governance in their countries. We are providing support to help make
these elections the best yet in each country.
Not only is Southeast Asia still recovering from the devastating
effects of the '97 financial crisis, but it is also dealing with the
current global economic downturn. Meanwhile, its governments are
having trouble staying the course on the economic reforms that should
form the foundation for future growth. Despite these challenges, there
is reason for optimism. In this sector, USAID's emphasis is on key
economic policies, such as bank reform and strengthening in Indonesia
and the Philippines, and promoting trade, through bilateral agreements
like that with Vietnam.
In the health sector, USAID is concerned about the potential for an
HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southeast Asia. While prevalence rates are still
low compared to sub-Saharan Africa, countries like Cambodia with an
adult prevalence rate of 2.7 percent present troubling situations.
HIV/AIDS crosses borders easily in this part of the world. Among
prostitutes in some countries, prevalence rates are as high as 80
percent, and rates among intravenous drug users of 93 percent are
equally worrisome. Given these factors and East Asia's large
population, HIV/AIDS is a time bomb. USAID has expanded its work on
HIV/AIDS substantially to meet these challenges, including a rapid
scale-up of our programs in Cambodia and Indonesia and a regional
Greater Mekong initiative in Vietnam, Laos Thailand, Burma and two
southern provinces in China. USAID supports a variety of interventions
in the areas of prevention, care and support, voluntary counseling and
testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, policy and
advocacy, and stigma reduction. In Cambodia our work has helped reduce
the prevalence of HIV in adults from 3.9 percent in 1997 to 2.7
percent in 2002.
Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, environmental
degradation and pollution continue to threaten the region's future
economic development, inflict high social costs in health and other
areas and fuel intra- and inter-state conflicts. Southeast Asia is the
home to some of the world's most endangered forests and wildlife, but
population growth, poverty and corruption are generating unsustainable
demands on the region's environment. Much of USAID's work is focused
at the community level, assisting local governments to improve
resource conservation and management.
One of the most pressing regional issues I would like to highlight is
trafficking in persons. The statistics from our region, both as a
source and destination point are alarming. Burma, Cambodia and
Indonesia are currently ranked at Tier 3, the worst ranking given by
the State Department's Global Trafficking in Persons Report. USAID is
working closely with the State Department to prevent trafficking,
protect the victims, and prosecute offenders. Just recently, our
support of the Cambodian Defenders Project enabled them to prosecute
two sex traffickers, resulting in fifteen-year sentences and
compensation to the victims.
Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor - democracy on the front
In Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor, the governments are
committed to a democratic path, but there is much more that we can do
to help to make governments more accountable, give citizens the tools
they need to participate effectively in the decisions that affect
their lives, ensure all citizens have access to political processes
and strengthen the rule of law. In addition, Indonesia, the
Philippines and East Timor are struggling to mitigate internal
conflicts. In the following remarks, I will outline USAID's work in
Indonesia -- a moderate Islamic nation
Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, is a critical
partner in the U.S. Government's efforts to combat terrorism and
maintain stability in the region. Indonesia is implementing a major
transformation of its political and economic landscape, while
simultaneously addressing multiple crises, from terrorism and
inter-ethnic, sectarian and separatist violence to endemic corruption
and rising poverty.
The USAID program in Indonesia is our largest in East Asia, and we
have drastically reconfigured it to respond more effectively to post
9/11 policy priorities. Our programs give special emphasis to
strengthening the voice of moderate Islamic groups, addressing the
financial crime that almost crippled the government, and improving
basic education. We are also work to improve people's lives at the
community level, through health, livelihood, and political
USAID has contributed directly to three of Indonesia's most important
Signed on December 9, 2002, Aceh's fragile Cessation of Hostilities
Agreement has greatly reduced the armed conflict that was killing
almost 90 civilians a month and wreaked havoc on local livelihoods.
Not only did we support the lengthy peace dialogue, but we have also
taken the lead in monitoring the ongoing truce. Now our focus is on
helping the people of Aceh rebuild their lives and their economy and
supporting responsible governance under the special autonomy
The October 2002 bombings in Bali that killed over 200 people
devastated Indonesia's tourism revenues and shocked the country. USAID
moved rapidly to provide emergency assistance and is now helping to
put the economy back on track and working with local groups to
dissolve tensions. Bali displays remarkable resilience, and its future
For the first time, Indonesians will have the opportunity to elect
directly their local and national legislators, President and Vice
President, a major milestone for a country on its way to becoming the
world's third largest democracy. These elections are the direct result
of a USAID-supported constitutional amendment, and we are following up
that support with work through partners like IRI, NDI, and IFES
towards free and fair elections with full participation by all
In the environmental area, our partnership with the private sector to
combat illegal logging, not only leverages $10 for every USAID dollar
spent to improve forest resource management, but it also directly
contributes to higher incomes for the rural poor.
Philippines - swords to plowshares
The Philippines is on the front lines of the war on terrorism in
Southeast Asia. Mindanao, the home to ongoing internal conflict
between Muslim separatists and the Philippine government, receives
approximately 60 percent of our bilateral budget since FY 02. This
funding is used to improve health and educational programs, promote
livelihoods, rebuild infrastructure and reintegrate former combatants
to counter vulnerabilities to terrorist influences. USAID programs
have successfully reintegrated 13,000 former combatants into their
communities and are training an additional 8,000 former combatants in
2003, with the remaining 4,000 slated for training in 2004.
In Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines, health services are
being devolved to the local level. This is a challenge and an
opportunity for local governments, and USAID is helping them to build
their capacity to provide general health care and family planning as
well as more specialized care for TB and malaria management and
We are also working to advance desperately needed economic reforms in
the Philippines. In 2002, the public sector deficit was an alarming 6
percent of GDP, due to falling tax collections. USAID's programs are
critical to combating the pervasive corruption that undermines the
economy and political stability. In 2003-04, we are giving special
attention to improving tax administration, which is a major source of
fiscal revenue that is threatened by corruption. In addition, our
programs work to reform procurement, improve the judicial systems and
implement effective anti-money-laundering legislation.
Governance is also weak in the regulation of public utilities. USAID's
work in energy and air quality aims to establish an open, competitive
market for generating and distributing electricity, electrify
communities of former rebel soldiers using renewable energy in order
to raise their standards of living, and reduce vehicle emissions to
combat the excessive number of illnesses and deaths from respiratory
East Timor (Timor Leste) - building a nation
East Timor is the newest nation on the world stage. It is an exciting
and crucial time for USAID to support its blossoming democracy and
economic development. Our programs are supporting the Timorese as they
establish a democratic government, including assisting them in
drafting and public vetting a constitution, holding free and fair
elections for the Constituent Assembly and President, drafting and
holding public hearings on critical legislation, and establishing an
But the majority of Timorese are still very poor and live mostly in
rural areas. Today, two in five persons do not have enough food,
shelter or clothing. One in two has no access to clean drinking water,
and three in four have no electricity. USAID worked in East Timor
prior to independence, generating rural employment and raising rural
incomes for 20 percent of East Timor's coffee farmers, in a country
where 43% of the rural population farms coffee. USAID-supported coffee
cooperatives broke the monopoly of the Indonesian military on coffee
purchasing, enabling the Timorese to find better markets.
The new Timorese government considers USAID a good partner, and we are
the second largest bilateral donor after Australia. We are
contributing $12 million over three years to the central government
for implementation of key elements of its national development plan.
As East Timor begins to take advantage of the projected oil and gas
revenues from Timor Gap, we will reassess our future assistance
Mainland Southeast Asia - working towards democracy
In mainland Southeast Asia (Burma and Burma/Thailand border, Cambodia,
Vietnam and Laos), we are working in countries where commitment to a
democratic future is unclear. We have designed our strategies in each
country to provide appropriate stimuli towards democratic change,
working mostly through non-governmental organizations. Our programs in
mainland Southeast Asia focus largely on democratic transition,
HIV/AIDS, health, environment, education and trafficking in persons.
Cambodia ranks among the poorest countries in the world, with an
annual per capita GDP of $280, low literacy rates, poor health status,
and the highest official HIV/AIDS infection rate in Asia. Cambodia
suffers from the legacies of war, genocide and corrupt government.
U.S. objectives in Cambodia include promoting democratic practices,
good governance, protection of human rights, and fighting disease and
USAID is supporting Cambodia's tentative steps towards democracy. In
this year's July elections, we are strengthening the capacity of the
democratic opposition and promoting an environment in which voters can
make informed decisions without fear of intimidation or reprisals.
After the elections, our support will continue to help build the
institutional capabilities of the parties to develop leadership and
messages. Years of USAID support have fostered the evolution of
strong, motivated NGOs, with whom we are now working to promote
democratic reforms at the national level, combat corruption, and
engage the public in monitoring government activities. USAID also
supports indigenous business associations, which advocate for
improvements in governance and transparency, reforms that will be
necessary for Cambodia's accession to the WTO.
Cambodia's health services are still very weak, so our focus is on
helping severely malnourished children, vitamin distribution, training
for midwives, malaria prevention, improved TB treatment, and
immunization outreach. Given Cambodia's high HIV prevalence, USAID's
most significant investment is in HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
Strong and relevant education is the key to the future of Cambodia.
USAID has begun to develop a program to improve the quality and
relevance of Cambodian education, with the aim of keeping children in
school longer, especially girls.
Consistent with legislative strictures, we do not contribute funds to
any entity of the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG), and we only engage
directly with the Government in the areas of HIV/AIDS, primary
education, trafficking and maternal and child health. Although our
principal partners in Cambodian development remain international and
Cambodian NGOs, the increased flexibility in recent years to work with
certain parts of the Government has enhanced our effectiveness.
Vietnam, a country of 80 million people, is key to regional stability
and occupies a strategic position related to China. This is an economy
that has the potential to take off, but today it remains very poor.
More than 50 percent of the population is too young to remember the
war, and they are growing in power.
Our interests lie in helping Vietnam make the transition to a more
open and market-driven economy to ensure their economic growth and
stability as a trading partner. The main thrust of the USAID program
is support for the implementation of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade
Agreement (BTA). Since the signing of the agreement in December 2001,
imports from the U.S. have grown by 26 percent and exports to the U.S.
by 129 percent.
But our assistance is not limited to trade promotion. USAID programs
also work to prevent HIV/AIDS, improve and increase services to the
disabled, and protect the environment.
Our hope is that improvements in economic governance related to our
technical assistance to improve compliance with the BTA, will lead to
interest and progress in good governance as a whole. The Vietnamese
welcome USAID assistance at the official and grassroots levels and are
open to our culture and goods. The Vietnamese have recently asked for
USAID assistance with developing their new securities law and with a
new groundbreaking NGO law. This is a mutually advantageous
relationship we should continue to build.
Burma is an authoritarian state, with serious health and economic
growth issues, a drug trade and rampant human rights abuses. USAID's
work in Burma is focused on promoting democracy and human rights. We
also provide significant humanitarian assistance to displaced Burmese
on the Thai-Burmese border, through education and health programs.
Last year we began to address the serious HIV/AIDS situation in Burma,
where the infection rates are at critical levels. We hope to expand
this program in the future.
Laos faces serious human rights concerns, widespread acute poverty and
disease. Therefore, our work in Laos is largely humanitarian. The
small USAID program creates jobs, promotes targeted growth through a
silk production project, improves maternal and child health and
educates Lao children about unexploded ordnance. With unexploded bombs
from the Vietnam war era still on the ground in Laos, in some parts of
the country a child is at risk simply playing outdoors. While HIV/AIDS
is not yet a severe problem in Laos, we are working hard to make sure
it does not become one. Maternal and child health is a major concern
we are beginning to address, especially for Laos' most vulnerable
children. Tackling regional issues
We have no bilateral aid programs in Thailand, but there are several
regional programs operating in the country. We are opening a new
regional support office to support our bilateral and regional
HIV/AIDS, anti-trafficking, environment, foreign disaster assistance
and economic growth programs as well as our Burma border activities.
The programs in Vietnam, Laos and the Burma border, where we currently
have no direct hire presence, will be managed from Bangkok.
USAID is playing a key role in support of the U.S. Government's new
ASEAN Cooperation Plan. We have arranged for information,
communication and technology (ICT) assistance to the ASEAN Secretariat
and key ASEAN members to enable them to communicate effectively via
the Internet. We are also providing assistance to the Mekong River
Commission to address critical regional environmental management
issues. In addition, we expect ASEAN to be an important partner in
addressing the alarming regional trafficking in persons problems.
The Greater Mekong region, which includes Cambodia, Thailand, Burma,
Laos, Vietnam and two southern provinces in China, stands on the edge
of an HIV/AIDS epidemic. To prevent the destabilizing effects of a
major epidemic, USAID is strengthening policy, advocacy and
surveillance systems, while developing and applying new efforts to
address the most at-risk people for HIV/AIDS and other key infectious
diseases. Overall, our support has enabled national and regional
partners to: better understand the extent of diseases such as
HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria; strengthen monitoring capabilities; and
expand prevention and treatment services to reach more people at risk.
As a result, more people in the region can protect themselves against
the debilitating effects of the diseases and participate in the
development of their countries.
Through the U.S. - Asia Environmental Partnership (US-AEP), USAID has
developed innovative and successful government-business partnerships
to address key environment issues and create markets for U.S.
businesses. We have integrated the most successful elements US-AEP
into our bilateral programs and will no longer request funding as a
separate line item.
The ANE Bureau established a public-private alliance mission incentive
fund (MIF) in FY 02 to encourage missions to seek out partnerships
with private sector enterprises, donors, host country counterparts
foundations, and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), among
others. A competitive process resulted the award of $17.5 million to
12 projects in six countries with an average mobilization of more than
four alliance partner dollars to each USAID dollar. In other words,
the bureau's $17.5 million investment in these activities are expected
to yield over $70 million in outside resources being applied to our
development objectives. Examples of the types of programs supported by
the MIF include:
Working with Mirant Philippines and the Philippine Department of
Energy on a solar energy project in Mindanao which is delivering
electricity to over 3,000 people in remote areas to promote peace and
prosperity; * An alliance with British Petroleum in a remote province
in Indonesia is working with civil society groups, private firms, and
local governments to put natural resources to work for the economic
and social betterment of the region while protecting a unique
environment; and * A timber alliance to combat illegal logging in
Indonesia which harnesses resources from The Nature Conservancy, the
World Wildlife Foundation, and Home Depot.
I would like to thank the members of the Committee for their support
over the years to our programs in East Asia, in particular for
leadership on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, human rights,
trafficking in persons, and famine prevention. We look forward to
continued close cooperation with you and your committee as USAID
implements the U.S. development assistance agenda.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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