The United States will focus on boosting farm productivity, through sustainable agricultural development assistance under its foreign assistance programme to Ethiopia, its Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Recourses Jacob J. Lew disclosed.
This would only show the degree of emphasis the US gives towards sustainable development in Ethiopia, Lew said in a press conference last Monday, June 29, 2009. The briefing was at the end of his first trip to Ethiopia and East Africa during which, he said, he met with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, several ministers, private sector and NGO groups.
“The particular focus of my visit is on two foreign assistance initiatives central to both our new administration and Ethiopia,” the Deputy Secretary of State said.
The two areas he referred to as central are hunger and global health.
He was challenged by journalists whether this is an indication that the United States is shifting its direction of support from humanitarian aid to Ethiopia during the last two decades to a new concept provided in the form of development aid.
Development issues had already been part of the agendas set by US governmental organizations including USAID and PEPFAR, whose programs have already been engaged in sustainable agricultural growth endeavours and other meaningful health sector work in Ethiopia, he responded.
About 60pc of the one billion dollars of foreign aid the US provided to Ethiopia last year went to humanitarian aid, according to Lew.
“I think it is a bit of an over statement to characterize the existing foreign assistance program as being purely emergency assistance. Most of the food aid USAID programs have been pursuing has been sustainable agriculture for many decades, while the PEPFAR program is aimed at three diseases; HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis,” he explained.
The US has been focusing on building a health infrastructure in both USAID and PEPFAR programs;
” so it is not a new concept but rather a change of balance.”
According to the Deputy Secretary of State, the discussions with Meles and other senior government officials have focused on Ethiopia’s Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Laws, the election in 2010 and the desire by the United States for the Ethiopian government to allow open forums which include opposition parties before the next Ethiopian election.
Political instability in Somalia and the United States’ request for military intervention by foreign countries and its plans to handle issues related to Somalia were also part the discussion with journalists.
Lew stated that the United States supports the Federal Transitional Government of Somalia, “in a way to open door to give a chance for peace and stability that the people of Somalia have been missing for the last 18 years.”
He indicated that the US would prefer the issue be dealt with by intervention from the African Union (AU) along with initiatives from neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Djibouti.
Jacob J. Lew was appointed to his current position on January 29, 2009.
- By Hagos Woldeyohannes | Addis Fortune
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