This blog is part of an interview blog series called “Behind the Scenes.” It includes interviews with USAID leaders, program implementers, Mission Directors, and development issue experts who help fulfill USAID’s mission. They are a casual behind-the-scenes look into USAID’s daily effort to deliver economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world — and the results we’ve seen.

Stephen Haykin serves as Mission Director to USAID Georgia.

Stephen Haykin serves as Mission Director to USAID Georgia.

What are some of the most important factors that have contributed to Georgia’s economic and political progress and how critical has U.S. foreign aid been to Georgia’s development gains?

Georgia has abundant natural advantages, and with USAID’s support, we hope it will continue to develop for years to come. The factors that have contributed to Georgia’s economic and political development over the past decade have been critical. They include the past and present government’s strong will for reform, the dynamic leaders in the region who strive to improve Georgia’s infrastructure and public services, and the recognition of the political arena as a legitimate and effective medium for distributing and sharing ideas.

Can you tell us more about USAID programs in Georgia? How have they worked with the Government of Georgia to improve people’s lives in the region overall?

USAID has worked with the Government of Georgia since 1992 with a goal of  achieving  sustainable economic and democratic reform. The USAID-supported programs included reducing corruption through civil registry reform; improving management and operations at Georgia’s largest regional energy distribution company to allow consistent electricity in homes and businesses for the first time in 15 years; advancing economic growth; helping Georgian citizens secure land titles; and addressing Georgia’s trafficking in persons issue.

What will be USAID Georgia’s top priorities in the coming years? Are there any significant USAID Georgia programs and projects currently in the pipeline?

Democracy and governance, economic growth, and social inclusion will continue to be the priority areas for USAID Georgia over the next five years. Consistent with our approved and publicly available country strategy, significant new projects will be necessary to achieve our goals. They will be related to agricultural competitiveness, economic governance, democratic governance and civic participation, elections and political processes, and the rule of law.

As the political transition in Georgia continues, and with presidential elections in October, what kind of support is USAID providing to move the political transition forward and more broadly, strengthen Georgia’s democratic system?

USAID is fortunate that much of our assistance efforts are technical in nature and we have been able to maintain effective and collaborative relationships with counterparts from the previous and now with the new government. We see this positive and productive relationship continuing. USAID will provide comprehensive assistance to advance Georgia’s democratic transition, including support for good governance at national and local levels, elections and political processes, the rule of law, and civil society and independent media.

Learn more about our Mission of the Month: Georgia. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (@USAIDGeorgia) for ongoing updates in the region!

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