The USAID Program in Indonesia: Current Program and Future Directions

Mr. Walter North, a distinguished senior career official with the United States Agency for International Development, is Director of USAID Indonesia. He assumed his post in September 2007. His prior posts include directing USAID in India and Zambia, working on Agency policy and budget issues, and leading programs in Asia and the Near East from Washington. He has an MPA from Harvard University, a JD from George Washington University, and a BA from Lawrence University. Mr. North began the roundtable by giving a brief overview of USAID’s new country strategy for Indonesia. He noted that Indonesia is a country that deserves the attention the USINDO Roundtable gives it. However, Indonesia has for a long time “punched under its weight”, as an important place with important people, but that has had a hard time telling its story to the world. Moreover, Indonesia is not the same country it was 20 years ago; it is no longer a very poor country that needs assistance, but rather a middle income country with poverty traps that has not yet lived up to its potential. This requires a different approach than 20 years ago. He continued by stating that Indonesia must be a part of any sustainable solution to the problems facing the world, from economics to energy and the environment, health and education. USAID has historically been constrained by its business model: achieving its goals through the procurement process and by awarding of contracts and grants, instead of doing the work internally. This approach has both positive and negative aspects, but does not allow the agency to be very nimble and take up new ideas quickly.