Helping South Asia
Despite its military and political influence in South Asia, the U.S. is making valuable contributions to development of social sectors in the region.
Thanks to its strategic location and a history of diplomatic relations, the South Asian region holds immense significance on the political and economic assistance map of the United States. In fact, the U.S. has played a prominent role in assisting countries in the region in the domains of governance, infrastructure and in developmental spheres covering health, education and gender equality.
For a country like Pakistan that lags behind quite apparently in the provision of education for all, U.S. assistance is helping 900,000 schoolaged children acquire education. Cementing these efforts further is the contribution towards teachers’ skill development and equipping libraries with complementary learning materials, thus providing an inclusive package for educational development in Pakistan.
The efforts of the U.S. have not been tilted more towards the younger lot of Pakistanis only as developmental assistance has been directed towards enhancing adult literacy as well, with particular emphasis on females. The USAID adult literacy program that supported the education of 2500 women helped prop up Pakistan’s adult literacy rate by 10 percent. Women are also helped towards economic prosperity through programs such as the ‘Entrepreneurs.’
With educational assistance nearing $250 million worth in the last fiscal year and with programs such as the Fulbright Scholarship Program, Financial Aid Development programs in cooperation with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, support for science and technology and the Strengthening Teacher Education Program (STEP), the efforts of the U.S. towards uplifting educational development in Pakistan are quite laudable.
The U.S. has also extended support towards the improvement of health facilities, upgradation of water supply and sanitation, development of rural and community health centers and improving maternal and child care such as the Family Advancement for Life and Health (FALAH) program. Other programs address polio eradication and treatment of tuberculosis and public health training.
Developmental initiatives of the U.S. are also visible in other countries such as India, which has witnessed phenomenal growth in the past few years. With the help of the U.S., India has seen noticeable improvement in HIV prevention and treatment, child and maternal health and polio eradication.
The U.S. is also working to help women claim their rights by supporting the access of women to law through programs focused on legal counseling and gender advocacy. Steps have been taken by the U.S. to help rejuvenate education systems in slums and rural areas, such as transforming madressah education in India through teacher training and modern teaching techniques.
Sri Lanka too has had its share of U.S. assistance through humanitarian programs. With over $135 million spent between 2005 and 2009, the U.S. supported the Tsunami-affected areas of Sri Lanka through vocational education, community involvement and infrastructural development.
The U.S. has also supported the Sri Lankan conflict-affected areas through health services, such as prevention of Avian influenza, assistance for victims of trafficking and for people with disability and other humanitarian services.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. has undertaken a number of health programs in partnership with renowned or such as the WHO and the John Hopkins University. These include projects for psychological support for Afghan children, strengthening pharmaceutical systems, tuberculosis control and support of various health services.