Statement by USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia Margot B. Ellis Before the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


USAID is pleased to submit a statement for the record for the Subcommittee's hearing: Ushering in Change: A New Era for U.S. Regional Policy in the Pacific. As you know, USAID has long been active in the Pacific, operating its Regional Development Office/South Pacific for seventeen years until 1994. Ever since then, USAID has maintained a presence in the Pacific through targeted assistance to improve health and the environment and to support disaster recovery. In recent years, USAID has been most notably active in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where we have a bilateral USAID assistance program valued at $2.5 million per year. It focuses on reducing that country's very serious HIV/AIDS problem. In FY 2008, Papua New Guinea also benefitted from $330,000 in assistance to protect tropical forests. Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands participate in the USAID and Department of State-funded Coral Triangle Initiative, a partnership to protect marine habitats. These countries received $872,000 in FY 2008 under this initiative.

USAID also has been active in responding to various natural disasters in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji. Since 1995, USAID has supported the Pacific Islands Disaster Program through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, which aims to improve the disaster management ability of local and national disaster management agencies and individuals. The program helps them develop and adapt training materials and provides guidance on how to conduct disaster management courses. Total funding for this program through FY 2009 is over $4 million.

USAID acknowledges the downward trends for key development indicators - for example, in health and economic growth - which should be rising instead. In addition, Pacific islanders living in fragile environments are highly vulnerable to the impact of global climate change.

USAID is currently reviewing its engagement in the region. We would be pleased to keep the Committee informed as the review progresses.

Ushering in Change: A New Era for U.S. Regional Policy in the Pacific
Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment; Foreign Affairs Committee