Washington DC - In May of 2012, The OIC met with Representatives of USAID in an effort to further promote the relationship between the OIC and the United States government. This two-day meeting with USAID was arranged as a technical discussion between the OIC Humanitarian Affairs department and USAID. This meeting took place in light of the recent MOU that was signed by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and H.E. Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. The delegation consisted of Mr. Fuad Al-Maznaee, Director of the Humanitarian Affairs Department and Ms. Amierah Ismail on behalf of the Permanent Observer Mission of the OIC to the United Nations.
The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance of USAID arranged for the OIC Delegation to meet with several members of their team including experts on food security, technical training, coordination and other areas. The OIC gave a complete history on the establishment of the humanitarian affairs department and the current activities of the department, including efforts made in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and the Sahel Region. USAID representatives also expressed that they were pleased that the United State’s commitment to the OIC-USAID Partnership, has helped to raise the profile of the OIC as a humanitarian aid agency, both in the United States and abroad. The USAID representatives were also very pleased that the OIC is continuing to explore partnerships with like-minded agencies and organizations to compliment humanitarian activities in OIC Member Countries.
With regard to Somalia, Mr. Fuad explained to the USAID that the OIC was now in the recovery phase by transporting IDPs who wish to return to their homes back to their villages, establishing empowerment and educational programs for those who need assistance in rebuilding their livelihoods. It was explained to USAID this was an area where the OIC could benefit from USAID’s experience in other areas. Especially since USAID has significant experience on agriculture and animal husbandry. It was also explained that the OIC is able to keep its credibility in Somalia because of our cultural similarity, the OIC’s empowerment of Somali NGOs and the OIC’s ability to coordinate the work and fundraising activities in several cluster areas (Water and Sanitation, Camp Management, Public Health, Public Information and Coordination.) Mr. Fuad also highlighted a very important issue in Somalia, in that 64% of the population is under the age of 26 and that there needs to be a strategic plan to make sure these young people are educated and are able to provide for themselves.
During the meeting, USAID representatives discussed their approaches to disaster assistance, preferring a cluster-based approach when working with NGOs and development partners. USAID also keeps several experts on staff (seismologists, hydrologists, shelter specialists, food distribution specialists, public health specialists, agriculturalists and others) in order to be involved in the logistical planning of programs in disaster-affected areas. They also have a number of anthropologists on staff in order to ensure that cultural sensitivity is applied to areas in which USAID has programming (which is almost every area where there is a current or ongoing crisis.) USAID was pleased to offer their expertise to the OIC in planning upcoming humanitarian assistance activities in the framework of OIC-US engagement and cooperation.