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Humanitarian response, USAID policy reform, global outbreak preparedness
Jeremy Konyndyk is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. His research focuses on humanitarian response, USAID policy reform, and global outbreak preparedness.
He previously served in the Obama Administration from 2013-2017 as the director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), where he led the US government’s response to international disasters. Konyndyk led a global team of nearly 600 humanitarian professionals, managed annual resources of more than $1.4 billion, and oversaw OFDA’s responses to an average of 70 disasters in 50 countries every year. He led major US government humanitarian responses to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the 2016 Ethiopia Drought, the complex emergency in Northern Nigeria, the Nepal earthquake, the Iraq crisis, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the conflict in South Sudan, and the ongoing war inside Syria, among other crises. He also led the Agency’s preparations for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit.
Konyndyk previously worked for Mercy Corps as director of Global Policy and Advocacy. From 2008-2013, he led the organization’s high-level strategic outreach to governments, donors, the United Nations, and other partners. From 2003-2008, he served as the American Refugee Committee’s country director in South Sudan, Uganda, and Guinea, designing and leading humanitarian responses in conflict and post-conflict settings. Konyndyk earlier worked with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and for an NGO in the Balkans.
He is currently a member of the World Health Organization’s high level Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee, which oversees the agency’s Health Emergencies Programme. Previously, he served on the independent Advisory Group to the WHO Director General that helped to design the agency’s post-Ebola emergency response reforms.
Humanitarian relief must involve, and be accountable to, the crisis-affected people it serves.
Versions of this principle can be found in most foundational humanitarian documents, and it features prominently in recent reform commitments including the 2016 Grand Bargain. Yet the power structures that shape international humanitarian response are not driven by, or accountable to, the people that they exist to serve. They are still engaged more as passive recipients of aid than as a force shaping humanitarian priorities. Living up to the aspiration of people-driven humanitarian action will require uncomfortable – but overdue – changes to the humanitarian system’s incentive structures and power dynamics.
What's going to happen in the world of development in 2018? Will we finally understand how to deal equitably with refugees and migrants? Or how technological progress can work for developing countries? Or what the impact of year two of the Trump Administration will be? Today’s podcast, our final episode of 2017, raises these questions and many more as a multitude of CGD scholars share their insights and hopes for the year ahead.
After months of speculation inside the foreign aid community, President Trump’s vision for development assistance is coming into clearer focus. Foreign Policy this week published a leaked copy of an Administration planning document on the FY2018 foreign aid budget request. The bottom line: less aid, done less effectively. Here are a few major takeaways from the document.