January 4, 2022
For more than 60 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Government’s foreign assistance arm, has exemplified our American values of generosity, compassion, and respect around the world, including here in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. For more than six decades, the American people through USAID have partnered with individuals, communities, and governing institutions, helping them to address challenges across the board from education to health, from clean water to improved infrastructure, and from citizen security to environmental protection.
I, like all Americans, am extremely proud of USAID’s tremendous body of work, but some programs particularly stand out. One is the US$5.3 million Water Resource Management and Flood Resilience Project in Barbados. The Caribbean in general is increasingly vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding, and as a long-time resident of Barbados, I have personally witnessed the significant benefits of the completed drainage works from this project following periods of heavy rainfall. These efforts have resulted in roadways remaining open following heavy storms, directly improving the physical safety and economic prosperity of thousands of Barbadians.
More broadly, USAID is an integral part of the U.S. Government’s efforts to tackle the effects of climate change. Through USAID we are working with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology to address critical gaps and strengthen the region’s early warning systems and ability to respond to natural disasters while building resilience to climate variability. The US$4.5 million USAID Caribbean Climate Resilience Initiative is strengthening the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s ability to institutionalize a comprehensive disaster management approach, which will achieve a safer, more resilient, and sustainable Eastern and Southern Caribbean region.
As a life-long proponent of education, I’m also proud of our work through USAID to make educational systems more accessible and more effective for the region’s students. Since 2015, we have partnered with the OECS to improve the reading achievement levels of learners in Grades K to 3 through the Early Learners Program. This program has reached thousands of learners at the primary level and achieved a remarkable 50 percent increase in reading performance among second graders. The Early Learners Program also initiated the Write to Read program to foster the creation, printing, and distribution of local books. This program will distribute more than 50,000 books authored by teachers, community members, and even students as young as seven years old.
Finally, I’m proud of how the United States Government has mobilized USAID on a moment’s notice to respond to unexpected challenges. Following hurricanes like Irma, Maria, and Dorian, we immediately sent in millions of dollars worth of emergency food, shelter, and medical provisions. And when the La Soufriere volcano erupted on the island of St. Vincent last year, we quickly mobilized the Agency to provide nearly US$4.7 million in humanitarian assistance for the island, providing thousands of people with emergency food assistance, access to safe drinking water, essential household items and medical supplies, and hygiene promotion activities.
Over USAID’s 60-year history, our work has never been easy. We use a long-term approach to transition partner countries from recipients of foreign assistance to new forms of sustained development and economic partnership. But in every area—from disaster response to entrepreneurship—we and our partners have made, and continue to make, progress toward a Caribbean where every man, woman, and child can live with dignity and reach their full potential. The motto of USAID, appropriately, is “From the American People.” And through our work, the people of the United States of America stand proudly with Barbados and our partners across the Eastern and Southern Caribbean in our joined destiny, step by step, and side by side. We thank you for partnering with us for the common benefit of all.