The below is attributable to Acting Spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala:
Administrator Power spent her first day tackling the most critical issues facing our world and workforce today—priorities that directly impact the lives of the American people. She engaged directly with teams facing down the global COVID-19 pandemic, with a specific focus on the current devastating outbreak in India. She also emphasized that a major priority will be a commitment to empowering USAID staff and building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Agency.
Earlier today, Administrator Power met with USAID’s COVID-19 Task Force to discuss the U.S. Government’s global relief efforts. Task Force Executive Director Jeremy Konyndyk and staff briefed Power on the status of the U.S. Government’s deployment of supplies to India—including six planes filled with oxygen supplies, N95 masks, rapid diagnostic tests, and medicine. She reaffirmed that the United States will continue to work around the clock to provide support and assistance to our partners in India, and highlighted newly released guidance, which will make it easier for teams in the field to secure lifesaving PPE.
Administrator Power also spoke with USAID’s Mission in New Delhi for a briefing on the Mission’s work to assist the Indian people in this crisis, as well as the effect of the pandemic on Mission staff and their families. She also expressed deepest sympathies and support to Mission staff and their loved ones; some of whom have lost family members to the virus or are themselves gravely ill. The Administrator met virtually with India’s Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who had attended the send off of USAID supplies from Dulles Airport on Friday. Administrator Power reaffirmed that the U.S. will work tirelessly to support the people of India, and again sent heartfelt condolences from the American people.
Administrator Power later held a virtual meeting with Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. They discussed at length how USAID can support the Alliance’s critical efforts to increase global COVID-19 vaccine access and deployment to 92 low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX Facility. USAID oversees and administers all U.S. Government funding to Gavi, including a recent $2 billion contribution out of a total planned $4 billion.
Administrator Power also spoke with David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme to discuss the devastating impact of COVID-19 on poverty and malnutrition. They discussed pressing humanitarian challenges, including in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Yemen, and El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The Administrator concluded the day by signing USAID’s new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan. This plan will serve as a launching pad for the Agency to take tangible actions and make measurable progress towards increasing diversity and ensuring equity, inclusion, and access at USAID. While speaking with staff responsible for drafting the plan, Administrator Power expressed her commitment to “seeing this strategy through, and to holding ourselves accountable for delivering on the diverse, equitable, inclusive Agency we all deserve.”