December 18, 2012

House Subcommittee on Africa Should Have USAID, International Operations Oversight

Ugandan children in Awer IDP camp (photo: Sarita Hartz)

Ugandan children in Awer IDP camp (photo: Sarita Hartz)

Early in December, IRD’s Church Alliance for a New Sudan joined The Rebecca Project for Human Rights and 20 other non-profit organizations and government officials from around the world in a letter to the Chairman-Elect of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-CA). The letter requests that the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights be given oversight over the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and International Operations. Royce would actually be returning the same jurisdiction to the Africa Subcommittee that it had under both Chairman Henry Hyde and Chairman Ben Gilman.

“To have oversight over issues impacting African nations it is vital that the Africa Subcommittee include USAID and International Operations,” the letter, sent to Royce on December 5, 2012, stated. Along with Faith McDonnell for The IRD, and The Rebecca Project’s executive director, Imani Walker, leaders of such American faith-based and human rights organizations that work in sub-Saharan Africa as Grace Akallo, Executive Director, United Africans for Women and Children Rights; Fran Boyle, Founder and Director of Connecting Lives International Mission; and Elizabeth Hankins, the Executive Director of Sister Effect, signed the letter.

Other signers are government officials and non-governmental-organization leaders from throughout Africa. Countries represented include Swaziland, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Namibia, Guinea, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Congo, South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Togo, Uganda, Benin, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

At present, the organizations and groups to which USAID makes grants are “so entrenched in the agency that innovation is stifled, reforms unattainable, and aid is not tied to performance outcomes,” the letter explains. If the Africa Subcommittee were given jurisdiction, USAID would be held accountable for establishing transparency in grant giving. USAID must award grants on a competitive basis.

“It is simply not possible to have a Subcommittee with oversight over Africa, human rights and global health lack the jurisdiction to follow the money back to USAID or to determine why International Operations are not implemented to support change in Africa,” the letter concludes. IRD has long observed that even the most promising legislative efforts sometime go off the track because of differences in desired outcomes and/or worldviews of USAID grant recipients or those of the groups that are subcontracted by the grant recipients.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) Chairman-Elect of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, speaking at a 2007 conference on oppression and persecution in North Korea.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) Chairman-Elect of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, speaking at  2007 conference on persecution in North Korea.

In our experience with him on a host of religious freedom and human rights issues, including Sudan, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and freedom in North Korea, Chairman-Elect Royce has been a strong, long-time defender of the persecuted and oppressed. We do hope that he will give serious and favorable consideration to this request. 

Follow IRD director Faith McDonnell on Twitter for the latest updates!


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