Division Chief, Program Operations Division
U.S. Agency for International Development
Established a distribution facility in Dubai that allows for faster delivery of aid overseas. Negotiated the collection of $142 million in reimbursements, helping to feed 1.4 million people for a full year.
Last year’s tsunami in Southeast Asia reminded people of the need for generosity in times of crisis. Just as much, it highlighted the need for efficiency and speed when it comes to aid distribution. The difference between getting food to an area in days as opposed to weeks can be the difference between life and death. Jeffrey Drummond of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) understands this urgency better than anyone, and his efforts to create a pre-positioning aid facility in Dubai have served to dramatically enhance USAID’s rapid response capabilities, save millions of dollars for our government and, most importantly, save lives.
Mr. Drummond manages the logistical operation and financial resources that support the $1 billion Food for Peace Program. This program’s goal is to provide the right food at the right time to the right people in order to meet their needs in emergency situations. In addition, this program works to address the long-term causes of food insecurity in the developing world.
Early in his tenure at USAID, Mr. Drummond identified a major problem with disruptions to food aid delivery in critical regions such as eastern and southern Africa. The greatest sources of delays were the time to procure the food and ocean transit time. Drummond quickly understood the essence of the problem and worked out an innovative solution by pursuing a permanent overseas pre-positioning facility.
Drummond solicited proposals from countries interested in hosting such a facility, and by 2004 this facility was operational in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The site has proven to be an excellent choice because of its proximity to the majority of traditional recipient countries, the accommodative environment as a shipping hub for the world and its strong and dedicated labor force. Food shipments to eastern and southern Africa that used to take two to three months now take five to 14 days.
The best example of the impact of Drummond’s work came in the wake of the tsunami disaster. Thousands of tons of U.S. food aid were immediately delivered to the region from the Dubai facility as part of the U.S. government’s initial relief efforts.
Mr. Drummond was not only able to secure a favorable location for the site, but he negotiated favorable terms for USAID and the U.S. taxpayer. This is in keeping with one of his other major victories for the agency. By statute, 75 percent of the United States’ food aid must be shipped by U.S. shippers. Because foreign shippers can often ship for less, USAID is entitled to reimbursement from the Commerce Department for the amount of money it could have saved by using a foreign shipper. For years, USAID negotiated with Commerce to get reimbursed, but for years they failed. That is until Jeffrey Drummond broke the logjam and secured a $142 million payment, accounting for 10 years of unpaid reimbursements. This windfall effectively increased the emergency food aid budget by 20 percent in fiscal 2004. These funds were used to purchase approximately 250,000 tons of food aid for emergency situations in Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Southern Africa, Uganda, Afghanistan and Haiti, feeding 1.4 million people for a full year.
By definition, USAID will always do good in the world with a mission of delivering vital assistance to the world’s neediest people. Jeffrey Drummond is making sure that the agency does it well and, in the process, saves people’s lives.