A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

your tax dollars at work: USAID in Lebanon

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 20, 2007

This is a quick post for T, a master’s student in Middle East studies in the states who emailed me in search of more information on USAID funding in Lebanon.

T was most interested in two things: verifying the rumor that “I love life” is a USAID sponsored project (F and M – want to comment?), and that USAID helps fund the Daily Star.

I have only heard the first rumor a few times and am fairly unimpressed by it. USAID is required to be transparent in its funding; if the US government has given money to I love life, I doubt it came through USAID.

As for the Daily Star funding, this is no conspiracy either – the paper credits USAID/Amideast at the bottom of each printing of the Lebanon Examiner, the transparency-in-business and -government section that USAID underwrites:

This is the center section:



flanked by Amideast’s logo on the left:



 and USAID’s on the right:


What I do think bears more scrutiny is some of the projects to which USAID devotes its time and money. I am pasting in a recent article, also from the Daily Star (since USAID’s website is woefully outdated), about the agency’s latest project: encouraging the growth of a small-scale baked goods industry.

This country needs to develop a value-added industrial sector, in which the added value of the finished product is exponentially higher than that of the raw goods. This is not the case with food products, even ones that reflect “Sidon’s specialty” baking.

USAID center to promote baked goods

Daily Star staff
Thursday, April 19, 2007

SIDON: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Lebanon Mission inaugurated a pilot plant for baked products in Sidon on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Beirut. USAID Director Raouf Youssef said that “it is a first-of-its-kind pilot plant that promotes baked products, pastries, oriental sweets and biscuits, which are Sidon’s specialty.”

“The center provides specialized services to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, agricultural cooperatives and individual food processors in developing their products, testing them at the laboratory, improving their quality and prolonging their shelf life,” Youssef said.

“The center also disseminates technical information and research that serve the entire area,” he added.

The opening ceremony was held in the presence of representatives from several ministries, South MPs, mayors, officials from the Sidon Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, and heads of business associations.

USAID funded the establishment of this center in partnership with ACDI-VOCA (Agriculture Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance) and the Sidon Chamber of Commerce, as part of USAID’s work in the agribusiness sector, the statement said.

“USAID is also funding the establishment of other similar centers in Tripoli and Zahle, to help local food processors in these areas develop and experiment with new products with minimal financial investment,” the statement said.

These centers fall within the USAID-funded ASAIL (Action for Sustainable Agro-Industry in Lebanon) project implemented by ACDI-VOCA.

The ASAIL project provides assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives, technical assistance to farmers and small ruminant producers, facilitates access to credit for farmers, as well as other agricultural activities.

“Agricultural and dairy sectors covered under the program include small ruminants [sheep and goats], as well as niche market products [cheese, pastries, pickles, jams, processed foods],” the statement said.

“The ASAIL project constitutes a total USAID investment of $6 million for North Lebanon, South Lebanon and the Bekaa,” the statement added.

USAID has worked in Lebanon since 1951, funding development projects.

The USAID programs promote economic opportunities, job creation, good governance and environmental policies and practices in rural Lebanon.

The agency provides $40 million assistance a year and works in partnership with US and Lebanese organizations throughout the country.

“USAID is keen on strengthening the relationship between Lebanese and American people, and promoting a shared vision of democracy and socio-economic development,” it said.

For more information about USAID’s projects in Lebanon, visit http://lebanon.usaid.gov. – The Daily Star


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