USAID Assistance in Pakistan

Posted by Mark Ward
October 10, 2010
Pakistani Children Peer From USAID Tent

About the Author: Mark Ward serves as Director of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Day in and day out, the men and women of the United States Agency for International Development provide development assistance throughout the world, in environments that are not always safe.

I have been in the Foreign Service with USAID for 24 years and currently have the honor of leading the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. Thursday I returned from Pakistan where I saw USAID's team and the NGOs we support on the ground providing hope to millions of Pakistanis after the floods that devastated 20 percent of the country.

The U.S. Government, through USAID, requires the NGOs we fund to "brand" the assistance they provide to people in need with the Agency's handshake logo and the words "from the American people" in local languages. Branding is not just required by law; it ensures transparency when America provides aid. We believe that the people we help have a right to know where their assistance is coming from.

In fact, many Pakistani people often criticize USAID for not being more aggressive when it comes to branding our aid. The USAID handshake is an enduring symbol of America's support for Pakistan, well known by many who saw it as children when the Agency was a major contributor to important infrastructure projects, including dams and hydro power plants that provided millions with crucial transportation links and power. During my visit last week, Pakistani NGOs urged me to better make our efforts known to the flood-affected victims, so they are able to appreciate that no country is doing more to help them than the United States. The U.S. Government, through USAID, is the largest overall donor in Pakistan, and it is important that we are able to communicate those efforts to the people we are helping.

At the same time, USAID is highly sensitive to the risks of branding in environments where one's association with foreigners can turn a humanitarian worker into a target. We are in constant contact with security personnel in country; and where the security risks warrant it, we will continue to grant waivers to the branding requirement for certain areas and limited periods of time.

For example, in Pakistan, I have granted waivers for NGOs working in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. But Pakistan is a vast country and not a monolith. In other parts of the country ravaged by the floods, where security has not been an issue, we continue to require branding on our aid.

Weighing the balance between carrying out our mission with transparency and ensuring the security of our workers and our NGO partners in the field is a constant challenge. We welcome the opportunity to work with all of our implementing partners to ensure that we get the balance right.

Editor's Note: This blog posting also appears on the USAID Impact Blog. You can learn more about U.S. flood relief efforts in Pakistan and how you can help here.



New Mexico, USA
October 11, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi Mark,

I noted that this issue came up in Congressional hearing not too long ago, and it seems to me that you don't need to brand something if the package it comes in has a note inside with your brand on it, that if folks recieving would be at risk using what's inside if it had your logo on it (like a tent), they could just burn the note, and they still know where it came from.

As for the NGO's, if the taliban are going to get their hands on it to open it up, they are already in harm's way to begin with.

So my question is how does the Pak. military feel about delivering our aid if NGO's are too scared to with our label being on it?

NGO's should have armed escort if they are subject to risk when they deliver.

This would be good PR for the Pak mil. too since they went to the trouble to make sure it got to those in need I would think.

Anyway, I'm probably not saying anything here folks havben't already considered and may well be doing, but I thought I'd ask.

Keep up the good work,


United States
October 11, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

I'd really like to know where all the money went that was planned for Haiti. How much did Bush-Clinton collect and if its been spent or what plans are being implemented? Development delays and broken promises are why the world doesn't believe in America anymore. We can't even help our back door neighbors. Haiti could've been nearly built already. Why is it taking so much time? Why is so little being done?

October 11, 2010

Zulfiqar K. in Pakistan writes:

This is matter of great tragedy that my area came under water on August-09-2010 but till today we have not recieved any aid and still more than 25 percent area is under water...but we got no USAID help...however many times i made requests to US Consulate General karachi and other officials on ground for food....

Kindly do favour us still more than 1100 families are without food...few people died due too shortage of food...children and women are in miserable condition...please help us


Latest Stories