Pakistan faces enormous economic, political, and security challenges. In implementing the second largest US civilian assistance effort in the world, USAID grapples with these challenges every day. We do so because the US has a critical partnership with the government and people of Pakistan. As Secretary Clinton stated last week:
"We are prepared to stand by the Pakistani people for the long haul. The United States knows that Pakistan's future is imperatively important for us, but even more so for the people themselves, and we look toward a strong Pakistan, one that is democratic, one that is prosperous and stable, being a cornerstone for regional stability and global security. That is why the United States will continue to support Pakistan's sovereignty, its civilian-elected government, and above all, its people."
Both Americans and Pakistanis are rightly asking how USAID will ensure a return on this investment, in terms of development impact in Pakistan and long-term regional peace and stability. Our shared priorities in energy, economic growth, stabilization, health, and education are directed to addressing both short and long-term challenges. Since September 2009, USAID has disbursed over $1.7 billion in development assistance to Pakistan -- a substantial program that has already begun to yield substantial results.
USAID's approach to Pakistan focuses on the need to promote sustainable economic growth by addressing the country's energy crisis and raising incomes in the agricultural sector, the mainstay of Pakistan's economy. We are also working to improve the government's capacity to deliver public goods and services -- such as health and education -- and expand the writ of the government in insecure areas.
Ask any Pakistani today, and they will tell you about the daily blackouts -- often lasting 10-12 hours a day -- that make life difficult, and business impossible. Sixty-four percent of public schools in Pakistan have no electricity. Pakistanis will also tell you about soaring food prices, and destroyed livelihoods in the aftermath of last year's catastrophic flooding.
USAID is addressing Pakistan's needs in these critical sectors by using congressionally-authorized funding under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 to rehabilitate infrastructure and improve the public sector's capacity to perform.
An example of USAID's impact can be seen at Pakistan's power plants, and in the hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses that that will be powered thanks to infrastructure upgrades. USAID's current energy program is designed to add 540 MW to Pakistan's power grid by 2012.
USAID is also funding the completion of dams at Gomal Zam, Satpara, and Tarbela. USAID helped build the Tarbela Dam in the 1970s and has just completed the first phase of a turbine rejuvenation effort. When completed, Gomal Zam, located in South Waziristan, will generate electricity for 25,000 households and irrigate 191,000 acres, providing a livelihood for 30,000 households. It will also improve flood control systems, stemming serious damage that could be inflicted by future floods.
And American taxpayers do not foot this bill alone. The government is providing 80 percent of the funding for the Gomal Zam Dam, and USAID 20 percent. Pakistani farmers pay 50 percent of the cost of more efficient water pumps from USAID. In turn, they save 30 percent on new electricity bills. And by rehabilitating and completing existing dams and power plants, rather than committing to the construction of new ones, our approach is also cost-efficient and complements earlier investments made by the Government of Pakistan and international donors.
USAID is also working to raise incomes and create jobs in the agriculture sector. Pakistan's agricultural sector provides 21 percent of GDP and currently employs 44 percent of the national labor force. Work in this sector has become even more critical in the aftermath of unprecedented flooding that swept the country last year, which affected over 20 million Pakistanis.
Following the floods, USAID provided emergency seeds and restored lands, tools, and livestock, ensuring continued livelihoods for 25 percent of the flood-affected population. Due to the improved wheat seed varieties provided by USAID, preliminary average yields per acre are currently 60 percent higher than the traditional country-wide average. Under current yield rates and market prices, the value of the 2011 spring wheat is expected to be approximately $190 million.
But USAID is not only working to the meet the immediate and short-term needs of the Pakistani people. USAID is helping the government provide for the needs of its citizens sustainably, and independently.
In energy, USAID is working to reduce the need for public sector subsidies by improving commercial performance, strengthening financial solvency, and attracting private and international investors. In agriculture, we are addressing structural constraints: insufficient investment over many years, inappropriate policies, and an impending water crisis. In health and education, we are working closely with our Government of Pakistan partners to support policy reforms and improve systems that are currently failing to adequately meet the country's demand for basic services.
USAID works vigorously to ensure that its investments are effective, sustainable, and accountable. We don't spend for the sake of spending, and have delayed or cancelled programs when necessary.
How does USAID know that it can achieve these ambitious objectives? It already has. USAID has been working in Pakistan since it became an agency in the 1960s. Several of Pakistan's hallmark development successes -- the Green Revolution, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and Tarbela Dam -- are all part of USAID's legacy.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the USAID Impact Blog.