CELS & Other URI Colleges to help with USDA’s West Africa Evaluation Program

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service has selected the University of Rhode Island to lead a five-year, $6.5 million program in West Africa.

The Coastal Resources Center at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography will have administrative and technical responsibilities for implementing the West Africa ASSESS program (Analytical Support Services and Evaluations for Sustainable Systems in Agriculture, Environment and Trade). The grant will engage URI and partner organizations in evaluating a diverse array of economic growth programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development in up to 21 countries in West Africa.

According to Karen Kent, co-leader of the ASSESS program, the projects being evaluated include agriculture and trade programs to improve household food security and to reduce poverty through value added exports, energy infrastructure and efficiency initiatives, and environmental protection and conservation efforts, among many others. Some of the programs to be evaluated have not yet been developed.

“USAID funds a huge range of different projects designed to support these developing countries, and it’s important that those programs are methodically evaluated for their effectiveness so the agency knows its support is designed and executed well,” Kent said. The grant will also provide training and capacity building to universities and agencies in West Africa so those institutions can evaluate the programs themselves in the future.

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