Frontlines Online Edition
FrontLines January/February 2016
January/February 2016

Insights from Administrator Gayle E. Smith

Development is never linear, and progress is never easy.

Speeches Shim

There’s no question that 2015 was a big year for international development, with the strong climate agreement reached in Paris capping off a year of truly extraordinary progress.

From the most inclusive, credible and transparent elections in Burma’s recent history to the fight against Ebola in West Africa, USAID has played an integral role in all of the year’s major successes. And through events like COP 21 in Paris and the United Nations’ Financing for Development Conference and Sustainable Development Summit, the international community has positioned itself to build on these successes for years to come.

Gayle E. Smith
Gayle E. Smith

But it hasn’t all been good news. One out of every eight babies born this year was born into a conflict zone. Syria’s neighbors continue to grapple with the world’s greatest refugee crisis since World War II. El Niño is threatening food and water supplies from Ethiopia to the Caribbean. Unaccompanied children are migrating to the United States from Central America in numbers last seen during the summer of 2014 at the height of the crisis.

These are major challenges for all of us who want to see a world where everyone has the opportunity to live in peace and prosperity. These challenges should further steel our resolve. After all, development is never linear, and progress is never easy. But when we are successful, we help support countries that work for their people—with governments that govern fairly and transparently, economies that deliver for everybody and communities brimming with opportunity.

USAID’s role in the world has never been more important. Where we see positive trends and results, it’s our job to help sustain that progress. Where chronic instability enables authoritarian rulers, we are charged with planting the seeds of democracy. Where economies leave people behind, we work to help expand opportunity.

This work takes us to the toughest of places, where setbacks can be as common as progress. Where conflict and political turmoil push people out of their homes and jobs, we are there to help provide food, water, education and shelter. Where a deadly epidemic cripples a region, we are there to help lay the foundation for a health system that can handle any outbreak. Where an earthquake wreaks havoc, we are there to save lives and help communities recover.

I am proud to lead USAID during such an important time for the Agency and for the world. We stand ready to rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities of the year ahead. From institutionalizing game-changing presidential initiatives like Feed the Future and Power Africa to advancing global priorities like achieving gender equality and ending maternal and child deaths, I know I can count on the men and women of this Agency to help me lead and enable all of us to succeed.

We will maintain our global leadership and agility in responding to increasingly complex humanitarian crises around the world. We will continue to lay the groundwork for the democratic and accountable institutions that make development progress possible. And we will further strengthen USAID to be effective, transparent and results-driven, and to lead.

Happy New Year to all of you.