Weekly Briefing (1/31/2011–2/4/2011)

January 31 Reuters reports that at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the world’s preeminent companies announced a major plan to invest in agriculture projects in Tanzania and Vietnam. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah championed the plan, stating “we believe it is smarter and more efficient to support agriculture than to prevent the more costly famines, food riots and failed states that we will face if we do not make these investments.”

January 31 The Washington Post reports that new contracts from USAID have been awarded to Cardno Emerging Markets of Arlington and Chemonics of DC for professional, administrative, and management support services.

February 2 Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog reports that Senator Lindsey Graham, who is expected to be named the ranking Republican on Senate Appropriations’ State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, plans to “use his position…to increase State Department and USAID funding for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq and increase the civilian side of various military-civilian partnerships.” Senator Graham noted that the State Department and USAID “help win this struggle against radical Islam.”

February 3 In an editorial, Voice of America reports on USAID’s new approach to development and cites USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah’s recent speech at the Center for Global Development. During his speech, Dr. Shah said that, thanks to a series of reforms called USAID Forward, “our agency is fundamentally changing, becoming more efficient, more effective and more businesslike.” He added, “We are seeking to build something greater: a modern development enterprise.”

February 3 In a blog posted on The Huffington Post, President of the Kraft Foods Foundation Perry Yeatman supports USAID’s new reform efforts and describes how “inspired” she was by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and his perspective on U.S. foreign assistance. Speaking at Davos, Dr. Shah said that USAID’s work is not just “from the American people” but actually “for the American people.”

February 4 The Washington Post reports that U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham could soon be in a leadership position to support USAID. Final decisions have yet to be made, but if Graham is named the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations he will be in a key position to make the case that US national security considerations
“require a fully financed diplomatic and development effort.”