Transcrip:Ambassador Letter to Al Akhbar Editor
Ambassador Scobey's Letter to Al Akhbar Editor
April 12, 2011
To The Editor:
I was surprised and disappointed to see the April 8 article by Abdel Qader Shuheib attacking the U.S. assistance program for Egypt. Shuheib accuses the U.S. of using its assistance as a “tool” to “interfere in Egypt’s affairs.” In reality, USAID has contributed to Egyptian development needs for more than thirty years, and U.S. taxpayers have over this time financed nearly $30 billion in assistance programs. This $30 billion has been an investment in the people of Egypt and has generated far more than its face value in assisting Egyptians to build their own capacity and develop their own resources. To identify but a very few of the many achievements, these programs have :
· Expanded access to clean drinking water and sanitation to more than 20 million Egyptians where no such service was previously available.
· Contributed nearly $1 billion for public health resulting in significant extension of the lifespan of Egyptians and dramatic decreases in infant and child mortality. In 1975, about 130 out of every 1000 infants died after childbirth; the number now is about 25 – a more than 500% improvement.
· Built more than 2,000 schools and stocked 39,000 school libraries.
· Rehabilitated and refurbished important antiquity sites, such as Luxor's West Bank and the Bab Zweila in Cairo, helping to preserve Egypt’s great heritage for generations to come and to sustain Egypt’s tourism.
· Since 2005, sent more than 2,200 Egyptians to the United States for university degrees and training programs. Over the past 30 years we
have also awarded 3000 Fulbright scholarships along with 2300 high school and university level scholarships through other programs.
· Invested $1.8 billion in 13 electric power sector projects accounting directly and indirectly for roughly one third of total present capacity.
· From 1982 to 1995, USAID spent USD 140 million to rectify original design flaws and keep the Aswan Dam generating power at its full capacity.
· Invested billions of dollars in technical and financial assistance to modernize Egypt’s economy to create new jobs in fields like high-technology and manufacturing. This has directly contributed to the World Bank naming Egypt one of the top ten Doing Business locations in the world four out of the last five years.
· Helped the poorest Egyptians improve their livelihoods by supporting well over a million Egyptians with the extension of 8.3 million micro-credit loans valued at about USD 2.5 billion.
All of these projects were completed with the strictest standards of transparency and accountability of any assistance program in the world. We are proud of this record, and we are proud of the patriotic Egyptians partners we worked with every step of the way. And yes, the United States has always included in its assistance programs funding to strengthen and expand Egypt’s civil society, including those brave Egyptians struggling for democracy and human rights. In the Mubarak era, this assistance was often labeled “interference,” and opposed by a government uncomfortable with hearing the voices of its own people. I hope, after January 25, this line has changed. The strength of a democracy depends on the strength of its civil society, its people, every bit as much as its government.