USAID to reassess programs in Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 08:40 GMT]
Newly arrived Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development Rebecca W. Cohn has said that the USAID is reassessing all its existing programs in Sri Lanka to determine the most appropriate direction for U.S. foreign assistance in the coming years, in light of the renewed conflict. "It’s important to work in a participatory way and involve the people we are assisting in the decisions regarding the projects we undertake," she was quoted as saying by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka, in a press release issued in Colombo Tuesday.

USAID Mission Director Rebecca W. Cohn
"In the current political climate," Ms Rebecca Cohn said, "we must reevaluate where and how our assistance should be programmed most effectively."

USAID, responsible for U.S. foreign economic assistance to developing countries, works closely with the Department of State to align programs and receives policy guidance from and reports to the U.S. Secretary of State.

Full text of the press release issued by the US Embassy in Colombo, follows:

Rebecca Cohn: Future USAID Programs Will be based on ‘Positive Partnerships’

COLOMBO – Newly arrived Mission Director Rebecca W. Cohn will call upon more than two decades of experience with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help meet the development challenges of a country affected by more than twenty years of civil war, renewed conflict and the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

Among the most important principles that will guide Ms. Cohn’s leadership of USAID is approaching programs with a strong understanding and sensitivity toward the culture and society of Sri Lanka, along with addressing key issues in a manner inclusive of all stakeholders in development initiatives and support to the peace process in Sri Lanka.

“Forging positive partnerships with the government, the development community, civil society, the private sector, and the people of Sri Lanka should be the foundation of USAID programs in Sri Lanka,” Ms. Cohn said. “It’s important to work in a participatory way and involve the people we are assisting in the decisions regarding the projects we undertake.”

In light of the renewed conflict, USAID is reassessing all its existing programs in Sri Lanka to determine the most appropriate direction for U.S. foreign assistance in the coming years.

“In the current political climate,” she said, “we must reevaluate where and how our assistance should be programmed most effectively.”

“Without peace, sustained meaningful development cannot take place,” Ms. Cohn added. “Peace is not a U.S. government agenda, but a universal one. We hope our programs can help build bridges between communities, just as it has literally begun to build a new bridge over Arugam Bay.”

Ms. Cohn holds a bachelor’s degree in Conservation of Natural Resources from the University of California-Berkeley and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Hawaii-Manoa in International Health, Population & Family Planning.

She is accompanied in Sri Lanka by her husband, Steve, and their 19-year-old son Joshua. An older son, Benjamin, 25, lives and works in California. She plans to serve four years here.

“I hope under my leadership that USAID can have a positive impact on Sri Lanka – its people and their future,” Ms. Cohn said. “To the degree that any donor can play a role, I hope that at the end of my tour, we will have facilitated in laying the foundation for peace and prosperity.”

 

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