Diplomatic Practice – Excelsior Writers | excelsiorwriters.com
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Erehwon is a poor landlocked country in a remote region of the world. Since achieving its independence forty years ago, it has seen a series of brutal leaders, frequent coups and virtually permanent political instability. Democracy has never taken root and political parties are for all intents and purposes non-existent. The economy is largely based on the export of diamonds, although some cotton, tropical timber and coffee add marginally to its GNP. Malaria, TB and most recently HIV/AIDS are endemic. Infant mortality is one of the highest in the region. Literacy is only thirty percent for males, and ten percent for women. Corruption is a fact of life. Poverty and malnutrition are widespread. Virtually the entire population lives on less than two dollars a day, in remote rural areas on less than a dollar a day. The population of four million is growing at a rate of 2.8 percent a year. Because of its unstable past United States development assistance has been very limited. The country’s infrastructure is extremely backward with only three hundred miles of paved road in an area the size of Texas. Because amenities in the rural areas and bush towns are few, it has been hard to persuade the very limited cadre of teachers, doctors and administrators to commit to living outside the capital.

Erehwon’s new president, Dieudonne Nemo, has announced a commitment to poverty reduction, sustainable development, the eradication of corruption and the strengthening of democratic institutions. Under these circumstances the US Government has told Nemo that it has decided to go forward with a $25,000,000 aid program in FY 2016. The new fiscal year began in October, but because of budget uncertainties and bureaucratic infighting no decision has yet been made on how the money should be allocated, where it can most effectively be spent and what should be the priorities for the new program. In order for AID to complete its budget work a decision on priorities is urgently needed by the Country Team so that AID Washington can allocate the available funds.

In consultation with the Government of Erehwon the Aid Mission in Erehwemos has come up with seven programs which it believes could usefully be funded. Unfortunately the total cost of these programs is well above the $25 million available. The AID Assistant Administrator for Remote Regions (AA/RR), Samuel C. Rooge has asked the Mission to submit its recommendations for funding no later than the opening of business August 29. He has particularly asked the Mission to identify any conditions or limitations that should be attached to specific projects to ensure their success. The proposed program should be coherent and not merely a scaled down version of each project. The Embassy will have to make hard choices. Ambassador Feckless has called an urgent meeting of the Country Team on the afternoon of August 27 to establish priorities and determine which projects the Embassy should recommend to the Assistant Administrator for approval. The decision can not be put off and the team has been asked to draft a set of specific recommendations for the allocation of the available $25 million. Unfortunately the team has only limited time to make this determination, since Ambassador Feckless must leave the meeting at 2:45 to open a graffiti exhibit and hip hop concert being sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Officer. Allegra Manontroppo..

The projects are as follows:

  • Rural Health Posts. The Ministry of Health has asked for US help in developing a network of 10 rural health posts, one in each province, which would provide TB vaccination, malaria suppressants and anti-retroviral drugs for HIV patients. In addition the health posts would provide mother-child health care and family planning assistance, but not abortion counseling. They would have emergency isolation capabilities in the case of an outbreak of Ebola or some other contagious disease. The Ministry argues that as long as the population is so drastically debilitated by disease and growing at a rate that far surpasses the growth in GDP, there is no possibility of development taking place or of poverty being eliminated. Each health post would cost $1,000,000 to construct and equip, for a total project cost of $10 million.
  • Primary School Construction: One of the reasons for the extreme backwardness of the country is the abysmal level of literacy. Few girls go to school, and even boys drop out after three or four years. There is a chronic shortage of teachers, who are often forced to teach under deplorable conditions in leaky shacks or in the blazing sun. The Ministry of Education proposes to build fifty primary schools over the next five years. In the first year it plans a modest start of 10. Each province in the country will get at least one. The cost of each primary school and basic supplies is $500,000. The project would cost $5,000,000 in the first year, although there is a clear expectation on the Minister’s part that any donor would continue to fund the project in the out years. The Minister and the President have made it clear that in their view human development is an essential precondition for Erehwon’s future success.
  • Democracy Building: Given the country’s turbulent history of political unrest and violence and the lack of any democratic tradition, the President has personally asked the Ambassador for a special grant of $4,000,000 for institution building. The money would go to train judges, conduct seminars on political party organization, set up an anti-corruption unit in the presidency and develop a national elections board to monitor the elections that the President has announced for the summer of 2017. Two U.S. contract advisors from the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute would be assigned to Erehwon to monitor this program (estimated supplemental annual cost per advisor is $350,000) In addition fifteen young Erehwonese would be invited to go to the United States to study the U.S 2016 presidential elections and the mechanisms developed in the United States for ensuring that elections are free and fair.. (It is estimated that $150,000 would be needed to fund this travel.)
  • Agricultural Development: Erehwon’s rural economy is essentially based on subsistence agriculture. The country’s future development depends on growth in this sector. There are few cash crops and the farmers consequently live in a cycle of unremitting poverty. In particularly short supply are agricultural inputs, seeds, fertilizers, and adequate water. The Ministry of Agriculture has put together an ambitious omnibus agricultural development plan and is seeking support from a number of countries including France, Japan and the European Union. The Government is not asking the United States to finance the totality of this plan, but rather to concentrate on the creation of an agricultural college in the capital city to train extension workers for service in the rural areas. The college would be designed to train a minimum of twenty extension workers every six months with a goal of having 120 trained in three years. The training costs are roughly $10,000 per student. In addition the ministry has proposed that AID fund a $3 million contract with one of the American land grant universities to support three American professors to lead the program in its first three yeas. The cost of keeping a contract professor in the field for one year is approximately $350,000. USAID is also being asked to fund the one-time costs of constructing the college. Construction costs of a modest building are estimated to be $5,000,000.
  • Infrastructure Development: One of the underlying reasons for the general backwardness of the country is the lack of a road network. Its absence means that farmers cannot get their products to market, that long hours must be spent in getting supplies, medicines, etc. into the outlying areas and that a sense of national unity cannot be developed because of the isolation of different regions of the country. To remedy this problem the Ministry of Public Works with the support of the World Bank is putting together a five year road development plan. The plan includes not only the paving of major arteries, but also the upgrading of secondary and tertiary farm-to-market roads. The Ministry prefers to let the World Bank handle the major construction projects, but it has asked USAID as part of its commitment to agricultural development and its support for basic human needs to agree to construct at least 400 kilometers (250 miles) of farm-to-market roads in 2016/17. The estimated per kilometer cost is $50,000. The road project is particularly urgent given the floods on the Nimpopo River which have recently devastated Erehwon and destroyed many of the existing communication networks.
  • Women’s Empowerment: President Obama attaches great importance to women’s, rights. AID Missions have been strongly encouraged to develop programs which will lead to women’s empowerment. Erehwon is an extremely conservative country, with a substantial Muslim minority and little tradition of women’s engagement in the formal economy. Although President Nemo considers himself to be a modernizer, he has not asked for support in these controversial areas. However, The AID mission proposes to contract with a leading American NGO to develop micro-enterprises in rural areas led by women. This contract would have a three year lifespan, but would be fully funded in 2016 for an estimated cost of $5,000,000. Such projects in other developing countries have demonstrated their important contribution to poverty reduction, and the AID Mission believes that it can persuade President Nemo of the merit of this project.
  • Human Rights: The human rights record in Erehwon is very poor. There has been systematic discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities and active persecution of LGBT individuals. The Aid Mission has come up with two small training programs, one for social workers to sensitize them to these human rights issues and the other to help Erehwonese legislators with the drafting of appropriate legislation to protect ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups. The cost of each training program is about $500,000. In addition three Erehwonese members of Congress will be invited to the United States to meet with minority leaders and gay rights activists. The cost of their travel would be $50,000.


You should put yourself in the role of the AID Director in Erehwemos. The memorandum should be submitted no later than March 6. In the real world the recommendations would probably have to be submitted the day following the Country Team meeting. The format for the memorandum is shown below.

To: USAID: AA/RR – Samuel C. Rooge

From USAID Director Erehwemos – (your name)

Subject: Erehwon FY 2017 Aid Program

Summary: The Country Team has carefully considered the Erehwon Aid program for the current fiscal year within the proposed $25,000,000 budget allocation. It has reviewed seven program areas and recommends approval of the following program activities: (give a summary of your overall assessment of Erehwon’s development needs and the rationale for each decision and the specific dollar amounts you have decided on) You should indicate that the Ambassdor has concurred in this allocation. End Summary

Subsequent paragraphs should analyze each of the seven program areas, explain in greater detail the allocation (or the decision not to fund) and indicate the assumptions underlying your decision and any conditions you believe should be attached to the specific programs you have decided to approve. You should take into account the sustainability of the project, the relationship to other donors (if any) and the political implications (if any) of your decisions both in Washington and Erehwemos.

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