This quarterly report describes the activities of the U.S. Government in support of the East Africa Counterterrorism Operation and the North and West Africa Counterterrorism Operation, as well as the work of the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development to promote the U.S. Government’s policy goals in Africa, during the period January 1 through March 31, 2020.
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was an emerging challenge to U.S. Government counterterrorism and counter-VEO efforts during the quarter. Many DoS and USAID staff returned to the United States under a DoS authorized departure order. USAID reported that these staff reductions and diversions of USAID stockpiles of personal protective equipment challenged the agency’s pandemic response in Africa.
According to information from a survey of USAID missions abroad in early April, only 7 percent of U.S. direct hire and U.S. and third-country national personal services contractors were working at their regular operating location, 61 percent were teleworking in country,and 32 percent had departed the country. As a result, almost half of USAID missions reported severe limitations on their ability to monitor activities. Similarly, 80 percent of USAID missions reported that implementers had ceased at least some operations in country, and 20 percent indicated that the host government’s ability to serve as a development partner was severely curtailed.
According to USAID, the ongoing insecurity in West Africa limits humanitarian assistance efforts. USAID reported that in Cameroon, the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives will end programming in May due, in part, to the U.S. Government’s shifting priorities in Africa and the focus of the Cameroonian government on a separatist movement in its northern regions. USAID reported that in Nigeria, road insecurity caused by VEO attacks impeded humanitarian assistance to a population of 7.9 million in three northeastern states.
During the quarter, the Somali government passed an electoral law to prepare for national parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled to take place late 2020-early 2021. USAID reported to USAID OIG that it is supporting the electoral processes in Somalia through the $31.5 million, 5-year Bringing Unity, Integrity, and Legitimacy to Democracy (BUILD) project. BUILD aims to increase political inclusion of women, youth, and other marginalized groups.