USAID
February 9, 2005 5:47 PM   Subscribe

USAID.

THe US Agency for International Development) What are your feelings on it? Can anyone provide some information, besides the agency website itself on the work it does? Is it like the World Bank in the sense of its development philosophy? I know so little and want to learn.
posted by jare2003 to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
When I was in Romania teaching Internet classes in 1994, I met the local USAID folks. My impression of them was that they personally were well-meaning do-gooders who were somehow using their do-gooding energy and the money of the US Government to initiate a series of what they called reforms in Romania whether or not the people there were too keen on them. Many of the reforms are things that we thing of as social goods: democratic elections, family planning opportunities, increased trade with other industrialized nations etc. Others are more on the fence as far as benefits, such as the free trade policies that the World Bank and IMF like to champion which includes things like privatizing state-sponsored health care, housing and transporation and opening up those industries to private investment.

USAID does this more in a "we'll send advisors and US knowhow" way than "we'll give you money and tell you what you need to do to get the money" way. They are well-known for doing things like investing heavily in the "democratization" of places like Cuba and are one of the funding arms behind the Cuban Librarian thing that Nat Hentoff is always going on about in the Villiage Voice. They send information on Democracy and free trade and getting rid of Castro to people in Cuba to help destabilize the government there. Whether you think this is a good idea or not has a lot to do with what your feelings are about Cuba and about Castro. At the very least, I feel that they're somewhat invasive, that they're involved in data collection that makes its way all sorts of places in the US Government [looking at the elaborate forms Peace Corprs volunteers fill out on a monthly/quarterly basis about who they were talking to and hwo were the power brokers in their towns etc always made me wonder what the USAID wanted all that information for....] I think of them as forwarding more thing that the US thinks of as social goods and good for the US government and industry interests, and not quite doing that "rising tides lift all boats" thing that the World Bank likes to claim they are doing.
posted by jessamyn at 7:50 PM on February 9, 2005


AID is considered a sister agency to the State Department. Let that color your thinking.
posted by NortonDC at 8:28 PM on February 9, 2005


Some of the smartest and most ethically aware people I know work for the State Department. The most cynical people I know work for USAID.

USAID is for naive fools and development whores. Your job is to promote U.S. businesses and make contacts for U.S. intelligence. They do very little development work. It's a great gig. You xerox articles from English language newspapers and send them back to Washington. You get paid well for doing next to nothing. But don't kid yourself, it has very little to do with development. Some close friends of mine worked for USAID. I still like the ones who quit.

The World Bank is actually the World Bank Group. There are many different facets and some are quite good; most are grey. USAID is not so complex. Run screaming. There are much better outlets for civic minded Americans.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:45 PM on February 9, 2005


The World Bank is actually the World Bank Group. There are many different facets and some are quite good; most are grey. USAID is not so complex. Run screaming. There are much better outlets for civic minded Americans.

gesamt: what other outlets do you suggest? Thoughts are helpful.
posted by jare2003 at 7:06 AM on February 10, 2005


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