This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 000461
STATE FOR AF AND AF/E STATE PASS USAID NAIROBI FOR REDSO
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID SOCI DJ SUBJECT: REQUEST TO TRANSITION USAID PROGRAM IN DJIBOUTI
1. U) This is an action message.
2. (U) Embassy Djibouti requests State and USAID agreement to transition the USAID program in Djibouti from primary reliance on Economic Support Funds (ESF) to Development Assistance (DA) funding over the next two years with an initial modest DA program of two to three million dollars. A shift to a modest DA program, in addition to annual ESF allotments available, will help solidify relationships with the Government of the Republic of Djibouti (GORD), insure a more reliable and steady stream of funding and facilitate achievement of realistic development objectives.
3. (U) Cooperation on the war on terrorism continues to be the foundation of the strong partnership between the U.S. and the Government of Djibouti. The USAID development program strengthens that partnership but the uncertainties of ESF levels from one year to the next raises doubts among GORD leadership about the durability of our partnership. Widely fluctuating ESF levels also make it difficult to plan and implement a coherent and effective program. This year, for example, ESF levels were initially pegged at $8 million, then reduced to $5 million and finally allocated at less than $2 million. Post appreciates the pressures on ESF worldwide, but Djibouti's genuine needs, and the resulting benefits we derive from our close relationship, mandate a look at alternative sources of development assistance.
4. (U) With its small population, proven stability, peace and seemingly decent per capita income by African standards, it is easy to overlook Djibouti's real needs. The truth is most of the population is desperately poor and social development indicators are among the worst in the world. Unemployment is 60% and more than 60% of adults cannot read or write. Infant and under-five child mortality is high at an estimated 114 and 165 per 1,000 live births, respectively. The rate of maternal mortality is one of the highest in the world. Over 45% of the primary school age population does not attend school. Life expectancy is only 46 years. Djibouti is ranked 157 among 174 countries on the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Index.
5. (U) With no natural resources, and no agricultural land to speak of, Djibouti has only its people, strategic location and stability to form a foundation for economic development. National institutions are very weak with poorly educated staff and poor work habits. The country lacks a university to train graduates to fill key positions. The cost of living is very high as almost everything is imported. USAID and the Embassy are working in partnership with the Government of Djibouti to overcome these obstacles and implement the government's vision of transforming the country into a hub for trade in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. USAID is supporting the government's reform efforts with its education, health and food security programs, with impressive results to date. However, the achievement of extended impact on the quality of the lives of people will take a long-term commitment of USG resources. A transition to DA funding will help ensure such a commitment.
6. (U) Assurance of DA funding would enable sound strategic planning over the medium term, which is valuable for making investment choices among Djibouti's many development needs. With limited funds it's impossible to meet all the GORD's myriad requests for assistance, but planning would enable us to select priorities where we can best promote USG interests and have the greatest impact.
7. (U) For instance, it is clearly in the USG's interest to do more to support political stability and democratic development in Djibouti. The government has already expressed an interest in judicial sector reform and in improving its human rights record with the United States. The recently completed IRI/IFES pre-election assessment points out the need for constitutional and electoral law reform to facilitate healthy dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition. Djibouti needs to develop a culture of civil society participation in all areas. While not possible to address all these needs, a DA-funded USAID program, with a longer-term development horizon, would permit appropriately planned and focused democracy/governance assistance in these critical areas.
8. (U) Mission would appreciate Department and USAID's early feedback on this request. RAGSDALE