U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green's Remarks at a "Celebrating World Humanitarian Day" Event
For Immediate Release
Monday, August 20, 2018 Office of Press Relations
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Center for Strategic and International Studies
August 20, 2018
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Dan, for that kind introduction and thanks to all of you for being here to help mark this very important occasion.
As we begin, as we call it in Congress, I'd like to start with a point of personal privilege. I'd like to take this opportunity this morning to express our sadness over the death of Kofi Annan. He was a giant who has spent his entire life advocating for peace, and the for the protection of humanitarian workers, something that we'll be talking about today. As he so often said, "People, not states, should be at the center of what we do." His passing makes this World Humanitarian Day even more poignant.
This morning, on behalf of USAID, I hope to convey two important messages to all of you. The first is, as Dan was alluding to, relates to the rapidly-evolving nature of humanitarian relief and assistance.
The second, as we mark this day, is simply our deep, deep admiration and gratitude for the many heroes of our humanitarian work. They, and many of you, are truly extraordinary and heroic.
I have to say that before I joined USAID, I didn't really appreciate the scope and range of what it is that we do in our humanitarian work. You can see it in some of the numbers. In 2017, USAID responded to 53 crises in 51 countries. For only the second time in our agency's history, we had six DART teams, Disaster Assistance Response Teams, deployed simultaneously around the world. The first time that happened was the preceding year.
At this very moment, we have pre-positioned resources and experts in just about every part of the world. We have seven emergency stockpiles in places like Djibouti, South Africa, and Malaysia. We have full-time response staff in 30 countries. We have six regional offices and 11 adviser offices, located with partners like the military's combatant commands.
One of my most vivid memories from my first year as Administrator was, essentially, a crash course in how some of this works. One day, during last year's UN General Assembly meetings, we received word of a terrible earthquake, the second one that had struck Mexico City. One evening that week, I was walking down the street between back-to-back dinners with two different mobile phones: one with the White House, one with the DART team leader.
I was dodging pedestrians, I'm sure looking ridiculous, while the disaster professionals were helping me navigate something much more serious: how to rapidly mobilize an emergency response team to Mexico City to help our neighbors to the South respond to its second earthquake in just a few weeks' time.
The government said to us that they'd welcome the assistance of a highly-specialized type of international search and rescue team, something really hard to find, especially in a hurry. But, thanks to the White House, our talented team here in D.C., our network of first responders, and the DOD, we were able to transport and stand up just such a team in Mexico City before breakfast the next morning. I'm honored to be part of a network, which includes many of you, that can make something like that happen.
But, as we gather to mark World Humanitarian Day this year, we have to acknowledge that natural disaster responses no longer epitomizes today's humanitarian work. We still do that, to be sure, and I think we do it well. But, these days, we face vast other challenges all around the world.
Our humanitarian resources are increasingly being deployed, not for storms and quakes and the like, but for man-made disasters, from conflict-driven displacement to tyranny-driven economic collapse.
Our DARTs are more likely to be deployed for those types of crises, and by far, most of our humanitarian assistance dollars are being allocated for those kinds of needs. There's the ongoing tragedy in Syria, a horrific conflict in its seventh year and one of the most complex crises of our time. Over 13 million people, more than 80 percent of the current population, need humanitarian assistance. There's the ongoing struggle in Afghanistan, where 3.3 million people need humanitarian assistance. A recent upturn in violence has claimed 1,700 civilian lives this year alone.
A dozen or so years ago, I travelled to Afghanistan as a congressman. And, in those days, our presence was measured by the tens of thousands of military boots on the ground. These days, we still have some troops there, but our boots on the ground are increasingly humanitarian and development workers, some of whom have been back to work in Afghanistan two, three, and even four times.
Nine hundred aid workers have been killed in Afghanistan in the last decade.
There's South Sudan, the most dangerous place of all for humanitarian workers. Seven million people in South Sudan, including 1 million living on the brink of famine, depend on international assistance just to survive.
Then there are the man-made crises far closer to home. One of the most underreported catastrophes in the world today is what's happening in and around Venezuela. More than 2.3 million Venezuelans have already fled. It's the largest single mass exodus in the history of the Western Hemisphere. And it's ongoing. I saw this first hand when I visited Cucuta, in Colombia, and the Bolivar Bridge last month. Five thousand new migrants enter Colombia each and every day. They're desperately seeking food and emergency medical care. They're seeking survival.
This isn't merely Colombia's challenge. Venezuelans are fleeing to places like Brazil and Ecuador, as we read over the weekend, and northward to the Caribbean. The list of man-made, conflict-caused, and regime-driven humanitarian crises goes on and on. After all, there are roughly 70,000,000 displaced people in the world today.
Since humanitarian needs and crises are changing, we're doing our best our to change and to respond to them, with the best tools and ideas that we can find. We're applying lessons learned over and over again. And we're fostering innovation.
This past February, USAID and our British cousins, DFID, joined in launching the first-ever Humanitarian Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge mechanism is a way for the world's best thinkers, from organizations large and small, for-profit and non-profit, business, academia, to offer new ideas in helping (inaudible) relief to the most vulnerable, hardest to reach communities in the world.
It's a chance for us to identify and invest in the best and the brightest. We've already received 615 applications from 86 different countries, including a third from women and nearly half from lower and middle income countries. We're excited to see and mobilize the results, and they're due out this fall.
Given how much of our humanitarian response is in conflict zones and fragile states, we're paying more attention than ever to the obstacles and challenges that factions, gangs, militias, and corrupt officials are throwing at relief teams. Case in point. In April of this year, a leading humanitarian agency reported that it had encountered no fewer than 70 checkpoints on the 300-mile trip from Aden to Sanaa, in Yemen. I'm sure those were just helpful citizens offering directions along the way.
But it's the kind of situation that caused us to launch the Strengthening Field Level Capacity on Humanitarian Access and Negotiations program last August.
It's aimed at helping relief team members better understand practical negotiation techniques and safe, effective field-level decision making.
Because there is nothing more important to us, nothing more important to me, than the safety and security of our humanitarian network, that's the area that we're especially focusing on. We must stay ahead of threats and potential threats. So we're supporting organizations dedicated to improving security standards and training for NGO staff. We're modifying our policy so that security, costs for equipment, staff, training and site enhancements can be more easily built into your contracts and grant budgets.
We're investing in new tools to help us map and minimize risk to operations at the most basic level, the level of, for example, moving food from a plane to a truck, to a warehouse and distribution center. But, let's face it: we can take every possible step to minimize risk. We can't make it go away.
And many of you here know that all too well. One of the most inspiring and humbling parts of my job is getting to meet the heroes who know the risks but carry on just because they care.
I saw firsthand, when I visited IDP camps just outside of Raqqa. I heard stories of challenges that humanitarian heroes face each day, as they strive to bring water and food and medical care to those who've been victimized by the years of conflict. With Assad's regime still holding sway in parts of the country, there's no real, legitimate government partner with whom to work. And their path is riddled with unexploded ordinance, which is going off at the rate of, roughly, three dozen per day.
The shelters they sleep in at night shake with the dropping of bombs each and every day. And yet, somehow, because of their commitment to others, they wake up the next morning and they do it all over again. These are the heroes that we hold high this World Humanitarian Day.
People like Iraq's Salam Muhammad. When Anbar and Kirkuk were liberated from ISIS at the end of last year, humanitarians were the first ones on the ground, providing food, water, and medical care. Iraq staff with the U.S.-funded NGO spend their days clearing mines and educating their neighbors about the dangers the ordinance poses.
Salam decided to joint this particular NGO after witnessing several tragedies that left some of his relatives and friends injured, or killed. He was one of the NGO's first recruits in Iraq. Every day is challenging for the de-miners; any accident can be fatal. But Salam and his staff love their jobs and show up for work every day filled with passion because they know what they're doing matters.
There's Jay Nash, a regional adviser who has lived and worked for USAID in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the past 20 years. The DRC is, as you know, no stranger to aid worker attacks, with 210 people being killed, wounded, or kidnapped since 2000.
In 1999, while visiting a university in the DRC, Jay was ambushed by a mob of students who thought he was a spy for neighboring Rwanda. The mob torched the U.S. embassy vehicle he had been driving, but Jay escaped after a group of brave students made a ring around him, guarding him until they were able to duck him into the girls' dormitory.
Sitting in that dorm, trapped for hours with a mob threatening to break down the doors, Jay said he had one thought: he thought of the children with disabilities that he was helping in his free time. DRC has a higher than average rate of disability. And he thought to himself, if he died in that girls' dorm, who would take care of those kids?
After eight hours, he made a run for it, and he didn't look back. Not only did he stay in DRC working for USAID, in 2001, he started his own NGO called StandProud. It provides treatment and equipment to young people with disabilities, helping them gain dignity, mobility, and independence.
There's Fareed Noori, one of the victims of last month's attack on a government building in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The blast killed 15 people. Fareed had been working in Afghanistan since 2010 for a USAID partner the International Rescue Committee, as a water, sanitation, and hygiene engineer. As his colleagues noted, whenever there was an emergency, Fareed was the first in the field to help with whatever was needed.
Fareed was in an emergency meeting at the time of the attack. He was killed doing the work of helping others, to which he had committed his life. Fareed leaves behind four children, two girls, two boys, all under the age of 9.
Another victim of that attack was Bakhtawara; it's a pseudonym, a bright and impressive 22-year-old woman. She was working for the International Organization for Migration, another USAID partner. She had married very early and had a child by the age of 16. But, despite being a young mother in a conservative community, she fought for her education and learned English. After school, she knew she wanted to help people. She convinced her family to let her, not just get job, but get a career as a humanitarian.
When her husband was killed in a bombing three years ago, she continued working as a 19-year-old single mother. Her job took her to the very government offices that were often targeted by insurgents. On the day she was killed, she was attending one of the meetings that she had hoped would help her find better ways to deliver aid to people in need. The building was bombed and then overrun with gunfire. She died doing what she focused her life on, helping people build a brighter future.
Extremist insurgents in Afghanistan like to target these workers. There's a special place in hell...
There's the story of the seven aid workers killed in South Sudan in March of this year. They were killed when their car was ambushed along the 185-mile route of the badly rutted roads in South Sudan's remote east. Their vehicle had been labeled as belonging to an NGO right down to the license plates. It didn't matter. Six of the seven worked for a small Sudanese NGO called the Grass Roots Empowerment and Development Organization, GREDO, which is supported by USAID and worked to promote sustainable development at the grassroots level.
Three of the victims were helping to build a youth center. Two taught English. One was also a driver and the father of a newborn. Three were new recruits. Humanitarian heroes, one and all. And there were thousands of others. And I stand in awe of what they do.
Final thoughts. Why do they do it? What causes them to go out and take these risks? I learned the answer, and (inaudible), when I visited Bangladesh and Burma with Secretary Pompeo earlier this year. In Bangladesh, I went to a Cox's Bazaar, and I saw the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who are barely surviving in that camp.
They are vulnerable to monsoons and cyclones and without the humanitarian workers, life would be very different. It's bad enough already.
And then I went to Burma, and I travelled to an IDP camp near Sittwe. And what I saw there was the most disturbing thing I have ever seen in development. I saw young families trapped. I saw young families unable to go to school and completely dependent upon the emergency food assistance that we provide.
So, those workers take the risks because they are all that is standing between an even worse catastrophe and death in these young people, these victims. Today we celebrate them. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. (inaudible) I'm also the director of the Humanitarian Agenda, as Dan mentioned, which is what this event is a part of, it's a new partnership as as we have this conversation. Firstly, I want to ask you -- well, one, congratulations; it's been about a year now since you've been appointed, and you've been back one year? So, happy anniversary.
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Pretty close. Thank you -- ask my staff.
MODERATOR: (inaudible) We're all very happy that you were chosen to be in this position because, as Dan alluded to, your deep background in international developments. One of the things that you said a lot in this position is talking about, "The purpose of foreign aid is to end the need for its existence." It's one of your key messages that we hear time and time again. So, I want you to elaborate on sort of how that squares with humanitarian assistance. Right? There's a big difference of international developments for, you know, economic growth and being self-reliant. But humanitarian assistance is so often, as you mentioned, driven by tyranny and regimes, and it's about saving lives. So, how do you marry those two?
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Well, first off you're right. What I've said since the day that I was first announced is that the purpose of our foreign assistance must be ending its need to exist. And what I mean by that is, we should look every day at ways of helping people take on their own challenges. Not because we want to do less or walk away, but because we believe in human dignity, and we believe in the innate desire of everyone -- every individual, every family, every community, every country -- to want to craft their own bright future.
In the area of humanitarian assistance, what I always say is, look, we will always stand with people when crisis strikes because that is who we are, that is in the American DNA. But at the same time we'll also look for ways to foster resilience so that we can help countries and communities withstand future shocks. And we've seen promising results in places like Ethiopia. You mentioned on the food security front, Ethiopia's a country that's had six consecutive years of drought and yet not falling into full famine. And that obviously is about much more than the work we're doing, but I think we're making a difference in helping Ethiopians build their ability to withstand consecutive years of drought.
So, I see the two as fitting very well together, and the other piece to it is, on the humanitarian front, again, we have natural disasters and man-made disasters. The man-made disasters are coming at us fast and furious. It's also about preventing the next generation of crisis and conflict. I'm often asked what it is that keeps me up at night, and what keeps me up at night are our children being born in camps, and growing up in camps, and getting educated in camps. And when, God willing, the walls come down and the gate opens up, the question is, are those young people going to be prepared to take on the challenges of the world? Are they connected to the communities around them?
And so with the humanitarian work that we do in many of these places, it's really aimed towards the future. And so I think it fits in well; it's a longer term of view, but I see them -- really is all going in the same direction.
MODERATOR: I'm actually headed out to Nigeria in a few weeks and doing some research looking at Feed the Future portfolio there, but really looking at the nexus between that humanitarian and development assistance, you know, how that would work in an unstable environment. So, I'm anxious to see what I learn from that as well. You know, the Trump administration has called for reduction, of course, of U.S. foreign assistance, but, regardless of that, the U.S. continues to be -- and dominate as the largest donor worldwide.
When you're talking to your colleagues in this administration, what is it that you talk about in terms of why it's so important for us to sustain this leadership? I mean, I could throw out numbers and I'll do a little bit.
In 2018, the U.S. pledged 29 billion foreign assistance. Five billion of that was dedicated to humanitarian assistance. I was looking this morning at how that compares to others, and, I mean, the UK -we're event twice what they do. So, you know, we're such a leader in this space. Why is that so important? Why should we dedicate American tax dollars or more importantly to cleaning up other people's wars?
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Well, first off, you're correct; we're far and away the world's humanitarian leader, and, quite frankly, two or three or four of them together don't really add up to what we're doing. We need other countries to do more because, with those challenges that I laid out, those man-made challenges, I don't see an end in sight, quite frankly, in any of them. So, these are open-ended challenges, and while we are proud to be the world's leader, we need others to step up to the plate. I will tell you, what I worry about is, because these man-made disasters, man-made, often regime-driven disasters, because they are open-ended, there's a real risk that it will begin to take up so much of our budget that it threatens our ability to do some of the development investments that we all want to do, including quite frankly, some of the resilience work that we want to do.
So, we do need others to step up to the plate. But in terms of, you know, what I say to the rest of the administration, it's not a hard cell, you know, pushing them to open a door. The administration is very supportive of our humanitarian work; we continue to be the world's leader; that's not going to change. And I think it's really -- the arguments for it fall on a number of different fronts. Number one, this is an expression of American values. This is who we are and always have been. It is a projection of the American spirit, in my view. So, I think that is very much alive and well in the American psyche, in the American DNA.
But secondly, it's in our interest. Just take for a moment the assistance that we're providing to Colombians, supporting Venezuelans who have fled the border, doing the same thing in some other countries. There is great American self-interest in supporting the ability of these communities to withstand this migration, to help afford some of those costs, because the instability that results from not being able to provide support, I think, is an issue, is a diplomatic issue, is a national security issue. And, as you heard me mention, I think particularly what is happening in the Western Hemisphere is completely underreported.
When I was at the Summit of the Americas, I heard from a number of countries, including Caribbean states, that they were starting to feel the presence of Venezuelans fleeing. And while they're all supportive of their neighbors, clearly it's not without a cost. But the same thing is true in many other parts of the world. So, the investments that we make on the humanitarian front are oftentimes in our self-interest. I look at the work that we're doing on the humanitarian front with an eye towards providing a lifeline so that those who've been displaced in parts of the Middle East can return. That's in our interest. That's a stated foreign policy priority. So, you know, yes, there is certainly -- I think the morality that we -- the expression of values that we've always supported. But I also believe it's in our interest and our national security interest.
MODERATOR: And thank you for reminding us in your speech about humanitarian heroes and what World Humanitarian Day is about. You talked about the unfortunate situation that in today's crises a lot of the time aid workers are targeted specifically. So, I want to ask you whether you feel like there's an erosion of international humanitarian law over, you know, that you talked about the evolution of humanitarian assistance. And so as the world gets more and more disorderly, we see more and more protracted conflicts. Do you feel that both governments and non-state actors alike are violating this law, and is there anything that we can or should be doing more I guess, particularly from the donor or U.S. government perspective, to hold them more accountable?
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Well, first off, we in the U.S. demand adherence to international law, international humanitarian law. So, we demand that unfettered access is provided, for example, in Rakhine, in Northern Rakhine in Burma. So, that's always been important for us. But if you're asking whether some non-state actors like ISIS are breaking international law, yeah. Having been to both Raqqa and Northern Iraq, what has been done there by ISIS is truly evil. There is simply no other word to describe what they've done: the desecration of graves, the desecration of churches, the disappearances of Yazidis. It's staggering and truly evil. Of course they are breaking every standard that we all know.
Yes, it is a challenge to international law; one of the best ways that we can respond is to say that, and to say it often, and to keep coming back to it. Because I do think the American opinion matters. And to say all across the political spectrum here in this country that we stand united and demand adherence to those standards and that what is happening is unacceptable.
MODERATOR: You brought up demanding unfettered access. I want to let our audience know that the Humanitarian Agenda will be going to the capitol this fall, and we're focusing specifically on the issue of humanitarian access. You brought up, of course, in Yemen, that's 70 choke hold points that David Miliband also talked about when he was here in Yemen -- in April on Yemen. I also want to say we're publishing a policy piece on Yemen here at CSIS that will come out this week.
I have many more questions, but I think we'll turn to the audience, so that we can engage them as well. So, if you have a question, please raise your hand. We will take it in rounds of threes, so announce yourself and where you're from. Please keep it concise, and at the end of it, there should be a question mark. So, who has a question? Yes, sir, right over here. Thanks, gentlemen.
QUESTION: I'll ask a real fast question, my name is Rob, I work for USAID, thank you, sir. My question is about the environment, I'm just back from the Congo, where Ebola is happening and I was just in Madagascar where there was a plague outbreak. A lot of the disasters you talked about have an environmental component, and we're doing some in the United States, but some people think we really need to do more, and that's a little bit against maybe some people in the administration, so I would love for you to talk about your thoughts about that.
MODERATOR: Great question. More? Let's do Julie Howard right there.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Administrator, thank you for your comments. Could you comment on the recent story in the Washington Post about the potential pullback of $3 billion in foreign assistance funds and how that may affect our ability to respond to humanitarian as well as the resilience opportunities you described?
MODERATOR: And, Julie, will you introduce yourself for those that don't know you?
MODERATOR: Would you introduce yourself?
QUESTION: Oh, yes, okay. So, I'm a non-resident senior adviser here at CSIS, thank you.
MODERATOR: Julie and I are also going to be travel partners when I go to Nigeria. It's actually Julie that is leading that study. Let's take one more question right back here. Yes, thank you.
QUESTION: Hi, my name's (inaudible) a reporter from Voice of America. There are a number of humanitarian assistance and also food aid to North Korea spended by the United States Government. What are the key principles that all the United States Government providing assistance to North Korea and under which scenario can assistance to North Korea be resumed?
MODERATOR: Thank you.
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Sure.
MODERATOR: Easy questions, right?
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: On North Korea, simply put, there have been no discussions that I'm aware of regarding assistance into North Korea. I certainly haven't been part of any such discussions.
Secondly, on the pullback, while we haven't received official notification of anything, I've heard of nothing that would change our status as the world's leader in humanitarian assistance. I haven't seen anything. Third, on -- first off, it's interesting that you visited Ebola country and you talked about conservation, because their linked, obviously.
I think that's one of the reasons we've seen the outbreak of Ebola in other formerly, entirely rare diseases in some of the areas where we've seen deforestation and such. What we're trying to do at USAID, many of you are aware, we're developing metrics that are aimed at helping us to better understand a country's capacity and commitment in a number of sectors, and conservation's one of them.
So, we're looking at things like biodiversity and how resources are managed, because we think it's important, and it's something that we hope to be able to incentivize in the future and have conversations around. I have a personal interest in the conservation front and as you know, we recently made some announcements regarding assistance to Colombia and helping them in their natural resource management. So, I think it's an important area that shouldn't be divorced from the rest of development.
We think it is one of those key areas that needs to be assessed and looked at as we help countries, in what we call, as you know, probably ad nauseam as I talk about the journey to self-reliance. One of those areas is, in fact, conservation, biodiversity, and the capacity to manage resources.
MODERATOR: Let's take another round of questions. Raise your hand high. Joel?
QUESTION: Joel (inaudible) from Norwegian Refugee Council, thank you Administrator Green for your excellent remarks. I'm afraid I have to follow up on the rescission question. We're not going to let you off so easily.
What's been reported is that there's going to be a cut of a billion to UN peacekeeping operations, and that has the potential to not only disrupt work in South Sudan and Somalia and the Congo, but it also has the potential to disrupt, through further chaos in refugee flows, neighboring countries that we care about that are our allies, such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, and so on.
I guess -- the argument is that, even if USAID itself doesn't lose funding or doesn't lose out through the rescission, the work will lose out, I feel, if this really goes ahead. So, if you could just offer more thought on -- I mean, you said you're pushing on an open door when it comes to international work, and, honestly, it's not always obvious to see that from the outside. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Joel. Let's do these two right here in the front, Haley, yep.
QUESTION: Thank you. Hi, good morning. Nicole (inaudible), I'm a senior associate here at CSIS. Thank you, Administrator Green, for your great comments. You mentioned briefly -- you touched on young people and so, given the disproportionate (inaudible) of people in these countries and how often humanitarian crises can disproportionately affect children and young people, can you talk a little bit more about some of the focus that you're keeping in these initiatives and on the work that you're doing to remedy the situation for youth? Thanks.
MODERATOR: Great, and I think there was a question right behind you if there still is, yeah.
QUESTION: Hello, my name is Jessica (inaudible), and I'm a Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You mention in your remarks about the man-made nature of a lot of the ongoing conflicts, and I was wondering if you could speak to USAID's role not only in providing humanitarian response in that context, but also the active role that the agency is taking in countering and preventing ongoing violent extremism.
MODERATOR: Great question.
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: That's a great question. Joel, on the budget front, I really don't have much more that I can provide. Part of it is I'm not attempting to duck, I just literally don't have more, I'd refer you to OMB quite frankly. But again, you know, they is simply looking at the numbers of the last year and what we're doing on the humanitarian front. There is simply no argument that we have backed away from our role as the world's leading humanitarian assistant. Just objectively, we are far and away the largest humanitarian donor.
We're the largest humanitarian donor in Syria; we're the largest humanitarian donor in conflict after conflict. I do think it is fair for all of us to talk about how it is that these resource needs can be met in the future. I don't mean just the immediate future, but the open-ended nature of these conflicts and this instability and this displacement is staggering.
It is what worries me, because these conflicts that we're seeing -- South Sudan; Yemen -- you and I have talked about Yemen a great deal in recent months. It's open-ended, and I do worry about that. I do worry about our ability to meet resource needs and, you know, the world meeting these resource needs. They're significant.
On the question of young people, particularly in displaced settings, we are looking at a number of ways of accelerating crisis situation education, conflict community education. We've received generous support from Congress, along with generous directives from Congress, in the area of education. What we've been trying to do, and Congresswoman Lowey has long been a great leader on this front, is to try to make sure that we are able to prioritize these crisis needs, and I do think that it's a crisis. It does worry me a great deal.
So, we're looking at some of the use of innovative technologies to see if that can help us in these settings, but it is a very focus and as we develop our basic education strategy going forward, I think you'll see a particular focus on those areas, because it is, as you suggest, very important for the future.
In terms of preventing violent extremism, we have, as you know, an important role under the National Security Strategy. We are investing in trying to identify the drivers of violent extremism.
One of my strong beliefs that comes, actually, from my time at International Republican Institute is that we shouldn't jump to conclusions and try to draw global assumptions and lessons. Instead, we need to look at local drivers. Experience shows us that it's often local drivers, community drivers that become flashpoints for extremism. And so, we're certainly investing research there, and some of the preventative tools that are there; from my days as an Ambassador in Tanzania, I often point out that after the terrible bombing, embassy bombing, the work that we did with our Tanzanian partners in the wake of that, to take on some of the drivers of poverty and despair, I believe was an important down payment for preventing violent extremism. So, I'm a big believer in tackling those drivers and tackling that which can lead to despair. So, that will always be a key part of our work.
MODERATOR: Mr. Green, at Davos this year, you talked about the importance of tapping into the creativity of the private sector, and how innovative financing mechanisms and other innovative technologies can really create better development outcomes. In your speech today, you talked about the Humanitarian Grand Challenges. Are there any specific companies or partnerships or technologies that you're most excited about right now. The things that you see that are happening in the field, you've been in in this career -- I mean, you've had a career for decades that are all related to development --
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Don't say decades.
MODERATOR: Okay, sorry -- you're very young. The last year that you've been an administrator, what are the -- what are the cool, new technologies that we should know about, that are out there, that the mainstream audience has no idea how we're delivering (inaudible) humanitarian assistance?
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, there are countless. During global innovation we -- which we had last fall, whenever it was, and I had a chance to walk through the marketplace at the Ronald Reagan Building, and take a look at some of the innovations. Everything from lunchbox-size solar batteries allowing us to power work in refugee and displaced persons camps to some of the weather forecasting stations that are created with 3D printers. You go through there and it's extraordinary. And it fills you with great hope for our ability to reach out and touch more people in more settings than ever before. In the area of financing -- we announced in India last fall, the world's first Development Impact Bond for maternal and child health, and the largest development impact bond of its kind. So, what we did through that is to set outcomes that we needed to see in order to repay the investment, but in terms of the means, we turn the private sector loose.
And in the follow-up conversations that we had, you can see that our partners, some of whom are based here in D.C., were terribly excited. Because for the first time they didn't have us micro-managing each step along the way, but saying, "Look, these are the outcomes that we need, you go get them." And really tapping into the private sector, nonprofit and for-profit. Also, in the area of displaced communities on World Humanitarian Day, the use of biometrics to establish identification of refugees and IDPs as well as some of the digital technologies for delivering resources -- assistance so that recipients have modest purchasing power in surrounding communities, thereby not only providing assistance, not only holding onto human dignity and allowing them to make some decisions, but also providing a tangible benefit to those host communities which are often placing a disproportionate burden by those who are there. So, it -- it's really using business principles, human nature, and I'd like to say there are new technologies, but my kids will tell me very quickly they're old technologies, just new to someone like me. Tapping into these, I think, creates enormous, enormous hope for reaching into places we haven't before.
MODERATOR: I want to continue on that "hope" trend for a minute. So, you know, when you think about the crises, many of which are located in Syria, Yemen, in South Sudan --
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Is that the whole part?
MODERATOR: Now, I know. Well, this is where I'm kind of heading with this. Is there a crisis that you have your eyes on that you do see any reversal in terms of reversal trends, or any progress? Is there a place that you do think we're going to be able to see some positive outcomes in the next -- I should say decade there, because I know it takes time. But is there one that you see not going the wrong direction?
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Oh, sure. There are lots of promising stories. I think Ethiopia and Eritrea provide tremendous hope. One of the challenges, again, as an old democracy guy, one of the challenges that I saw was the enabling environment, for civil society and NGOs in a place like Ethiopia, and with the transition to a new government, we're having conversations that we didn't have before, in ways that I think will be very helpful. Also, I think that their willingness to partner with us more and more will help us make some investments in those areas -- in those resilience areas that will not only help Ethiopia and Eritrea, but also, quite frankly, I think will save us money in the long run. So, there are lots of stories like that, I think all around the continent of Africa and elsewhere. But there are -- every hopeful story is replaced by a new challenge. None of these challenges are inevitable, as problems. But they do require us to be innovative. They do require us to be engaged, they do require us to invest up front, and to be innovative in those procuring methods and how we partner. All of those things need to be done if we're going to turn -- either prevent the challenges from becoming crises, or turn problems into solutions.
MODERATOR: Thank you. I lived in Ethiopia for three years, and I have to say it's quite exciting to see the change that's happening there. I'd like to just turn it onto -- are there any more burning questions? No hands are shooting up; let's do one more right here in the front.
QUESTION: Hi, this is Chris (inaudible) with the State Department. Thank you so much for your leadership of USAID and development. I have a question regarding the nexus between humanitarian assistance, you've been mentioning the nexus with conflict development stabilization -- how does humanitarian assistance fit in, or is it just a one piece element that is disassociated from political issues?
MODERATOR: Great, and as you answer that and any other final remarks you'd like to make as well.
ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Sure. Thank you and again, thanks to all of you. So I think from the National Security Strategy, you see -- also the Stabilization Assistance Review, you see, I think, a clear multi-agency, multi-department approach to many of these challenges. Our relationship with the State Department is as close as it's ever been. I've received nothing but support and affirmation from Secretary Pompeo. We are working, as you know, closely because all of these challenges touch each of us in different ways and we each have different capacities.
You know, I think it's probably never been more clear than in a place like the Burma-Bangladesh crisis. So, you know, when Rohingya in one place their IDPs and when they're in another place, they're refugees, and then of course we all look at that and say, "forget the labels, they're people who we need to help out," and invest in, and so we do. Also, I would say that both State and AID have as close of a working relationship with DoD as we've had in a very long time. As many of you know, we have a couple dozen detailees over at the Pentagon and the Combatant Commands. DoD has made it clear that they don't want to do what we do or State does, and we certainly don't want to do what they do. So, I would think those seamless teams and close communications are helping us. And going back to the budget question, they have to; there's not enough money for duplication. There's not enough money for bureaucracy. We just have to stay in constant communication.
As to (inaudible) final remarks, I really would like to leave off with where my remarks, my opening remarks left off -- or left off. On this World Humanitarian Day, I would ask that we all think of those men and women who are in places in far places in world, in conflict zones, in fragile settings, day after day, delivering emergency medical assistance, food assistance, water and hygiene under the most trying of circumstances, difficult security situations. They do it because they care. They're my heroes. I'm sure they're your heroes. They are patriots. And what a wonderful expression of values and our priorities that with what they're doing each and every day. Thank you.