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Meet the New Head of USAID

US President-elect Joe Biden is to appoint experienced ambassador Samantha Power as head of development agency USAID in a potential boost to its capabilities in Africa. In an expanded role, Power, who served as the US ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration from 2013-17, will also sit on the National Security Council, subject to Senate confirmation. The reductions in traditional development have impacted USAID programmes focusing on agriculture, climate change, human rights and health. The 2021 budget request included increases for Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger, and regional programmes in the Sahel, but decreased funding to Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda “based on analysis of each country’s self-reliance, strengths and weaknesses.”  Power’s diplomatic career includes significant African experience. During her time at the United Nations, Power responded to the Ebola epidemic, negotiated and implement the Sustainable Development Goals and helped to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. But Power’s past experience in Africa was marked by tragedy after her motorcade accidentally hit and killed a seven-year-old boy in Cameroon during a 2016 visit to show US support for the campaign against militant Islamist group Boko Haram.