Asia represents more than half the world’s population and is the most dynamic and fastest-growing region in the world. Robust economic growth, rapid advances in technology and increasing interconnectivity make Asia an important market for U.S. exports and a key U.S. foreign policy priority. As a fundamental partner in U.S. security and trade priorities, the region has become a key driver of global politics and economics.
Many countries in Asia have met or exceeded several of their United Nations Millennium Development Goals. However, post-2015, much remains to be done to unlock economic prosperity and security equally across borders. USAID’s regional programs work to address key transnational issues that present critical developmental challenges to progress.
Despite Asia’s significant economic advancements, there are major impediments to achieving sustainable and widely-shared growth. Income inequality is increasing, infectious diseases and pandemic threats continue to plague parts of the region, and Asia is particularly vulnerable to climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss. The economies of neighboring countries are at different stages of development, posing challenges to regional economic integration.
USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) implements programs and forges partnerships with governments, civil society and the private sector to address development challenges in over 20 Asian countries. RDMA works closely with other USAID missions in Asia and in strong partnership with regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). RDMA also helps advance the Lower Mekong Initiative — a multinational partnership with Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam initiated by the United States in 2009 — to promote greater cooperation in the Mekong sub-region in the areas of agriculture and food security, connectivity, education, energy security, environment and water, and health, gender and other cross-cutting issues. Across its programming, USAID works to protect and empower vulnerable populations, including those who are susceptible to drug-resistant diseases like malaria and tuberculosis (TB); persons with disabilities; ethnic minority groups; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals; and those vulnerable to human trafficking.
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENT
Global climate change, illegal wildlife trafficking and mismanagement of natural resources are among the chief barriers to Asia’s long-term sustainability. USAID helps communities adapt to the changing environment and mitigate the negative impacts of global climate change through initiatives focused on green, low-emission development, adoption of clean energy policies, and the sustainable management of forests and wetlands. USAID also promotes climate-resilient agriculture and infrastructure development and sustainable and equitable methods to reduce urban climate change risks. We promote greater resilience by increasing access to financing for climate adaptation projects and use the best science and emerging technologies, including mobile and geospatial technologies, to magnify the impact of our investments. Other activities reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products while increasing law enforcement’s capabilities to combat wildlife trafficking through training and international cooperation. USAID increases food security for more than 120 million people by improving conservation management of key Asia-Pacific fishery sites. We work in some of the world’s most important marine biodiversity areas, such as the Coral Triangle, which supplies more than one-tenth of the world’s seafood. Food security is further strengthened by efforts to protect Mekong River fisheries and enhance sustainable aquaculture production.
USAID helps improve health systems which are vital in combating the spread of infectious diseases. Targeting HIV-affected populations in the region, USAID works with host country health providers to implement state-of-the-art prevention, care and treatment programs. USAID also helps Asia-Pacific countries address the spread of TB and multidrug-resistant TB by introducing faster diagnostic tools, providing training and equipment to strengthen lab systems, and advancing cutting-edge research. To address drug-resistant malaria, USAID supports community-based diagnosis and treatment, promotes using insecticide-treated bed nets, and strengthens drug quality control and disease surveillance.
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND TRADE
In partnership with ASEAN and APEC, USAID enhances regional integration and fosters inclusive economic growth in Southeast Asia by supporting regional policy dialogues and standards. Supporting ASEAN’s goal of economic integration, USAID helps enable efficient, transparent and sustainable trade practices and facilitate regularized labor mobility. Through the development of an agricultural learning platform, RDMA is also working to enable farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal and other countries to share and benefit from new agricultural practices and technologies.