Sally Steenland talks with Zeenat Rahman, acting director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives at the U.S. Agency for International Development, about the crisis in the Horn of Africa, the agency’s work with faith-based partners, and why foreign aid and development are important not just as a reflection of America’s values but as strategic tools for national security and strengthening our economy.
Sally Steenland: Zeenat, I’d like to start by talking about a pressing issue for your agency, which is the massive suffering in the Horn of Africa. More than 13 million people are starving and dying because of famine, drought, and war. Can you tell us what USAID is doing in the region? What is the level of public awareness of this disaster compared with the tsunami in Indonesia or last year’s earthquake in Haiti?