Science and Technology in Foreign Assistance Statement of Task
A Committee of the National Research Council (NRC) will assess new opportunities for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partners to draw on the science, engineering, and medical resources of the nation in designing and carrying out foreign assistance programs. The assessment will recommend steps that USAID should consider in enhancing its capabilities to use these resources for addressing the challenges of international development in the years ahead. Among the recent developments of interest to USAID that will be considered are (a) the expanding science and technology interests of the Department of State and their relationship to the activities of USAID, (b) the role of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), and (c) the establishment of partnerships that link USAID with international, regional, U.S. governmental, and private sector foundations and other organizations in carrying out programs in fields such as health care, agriculture and nutrition, energy, and the environment and in cross cutting areas such as education and job creation.
Studies of the experience of a large number of developing countries have repeatedly underscored the importance of science and technology capacity as an essential ingredient of sustainable development, and reliance on American experience and expertise in fostering such capacity has long been a major focus of USAID. Experience has shown, for example, that coupling research capacity with education can help countries develop and adopt new technologies which serve as the cornerstones of economic growth.
This project will examine selected aspects of USAID’s activities that have benefited or could benefit from access to strong science, technology, and medical capabilities. The activities to be considered, while only a portion of the large number of relevant programs and projects, will span the full range of development assistance, humanitarian assistance, and economic support. As noted above, of special importance are programs in fields such as health care, agriculture and nutrition, energy, and the environment. Cutting across these sectors are programs directed to education and job creation as well as the strengthening of enabling technologies in areas such as information and communications.
While the amount of USAID funding related to science and technology is a small portion of its total budget it is still quite substantial. In addition, USAID funds help leverage billions of foreign assistance dollars from other donors and some of them are also committed to science and technology capacity building. Many American organizations participating in USAID programs augment USAID funds with their own resources, and NGOs and other organizations that conduct their own assistance programs depend on USAID for advice and logistics support.