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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.
The White House, State Department, and US Agency for International Development (USAID) reviews have rightly emphasized addressing duplication and inefficiency. But rather than focusing on a State/USAID merger, as has been widely rumored, the administration should look at something that leads to some of the biggest duplications, triplications, and even quadruplications of capacity that exists in the US government: the severe fragmentation of US development assistance.
Each of the G20 summits of the past seven years has suffered in comparison with the London and Pittsburgh Summits of 2009, when the imperative of crisis response motivated leaders, finance ministers, and central bankers to coordinate effectively with each other. Subsequent summits have lacked the same sense of urgency and have failed to deliver any kind of agenda that can be pinpointed as clearly as “saving the global economy.” This week’s summit in Hamburg, Germany promises more of the same, with the real possibility that the G20’s stock could fall even further at the hands of a non-cooperative US delegation.
After months of speculation, we are finally getting some clarity on the broad outlines—and internal debates—of development policy under the Trump administration. Here are five main takeaways from hearings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USAID administrator nominee Mark Green:
Here, CGD experts Amanda Glassman, Scott Morris, and Jeremy Konyndyk weigh in on some of the key points we heard (and live tweeted) during Secretary Tillerson’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, later, when he answered questions from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
Consider this statement: Science knows how to deal with a pandemic outbreak, but policy gets in the way. That was how we framed a recent event at CGD with key people who led the US government’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Drawing from that event, this podcast brings you some ideas of how to improve the global system of response and increase our preparedness for the next inevitable outbreak. Speakers include Jeremy Konyndyk, Amy Pope, David Smith, Rebecca Martin, and Amanda Glassman.