With the 2010 U.S. National Security Strategy’s emphasis on preventing conflicts before they emerge and conflict and instability watch lists consistently identifying nearly one third of the world’s countries as in danger of falling into conflict and instability within the next two years, there is a pressing need for the U.S. to engage in conflict prevention activities. Section 1207 funding managed by the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization seeks to do just that. To date, $350 million in 1207 funding has supported 25 conflict prevention projects in 23 at-risk or post-conflict countries.
Hello. I’m Cassandra Welch. I’m the Assistance Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.
After the August  conflict in Georgia with Russia, the U.S. Government pledged $1 billion to help reconstruct Georgia. Of that, a hundred million came from the 1207 funds and that funding is actually the largest amount of money that 1207 funds have given to a particular country.
Of the billion dollar pledge, the funding that we received the quickest is actually the first tranche of the 1207 funding, which is used to help stabilize countries after a conflict. And this funding was actually on the ground in October. So the conflict ended in August and we got the first funding in October of 2008 and that funding allowed the Embassy, and particularly USAID, to start right away with a program that helped farmers who had fled from the conflict to go back to their fields. That helped in two ways; one, to stabilize the situation, because farmers had fled the administrative boundary line and we wanted to get them back into their homes, into their fields as soon as possible to make sure that that boundary line didn’t encroach further into Georgia.
And secondly, the August conflict was in the height of the planting season. So these farmers lost not only their crops for that season, but also the money to buy seed in the future.
So the 1207 funding and the support from the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization allowed us to get on the ground almost immediately and help these farmers. And within the first two months, they planted a new crop for winter wheat and that meant that the farmers would not only be able to feed themselves and their families during the winter, but also would make enough money to plant in the summer. And as I said, the funding helped to make sure that they got back to their homes and their families.
So it’s been 18 months since this $19.5 million project was underway and it was a huge success. Not only did every farmer and farmer family that was affected by the conflict get assistance, but they also had a bumper crop of over $44 million. This is a crop that they never had in Georgia before and will help in years to come. The Georgian Government actually hailed this 1207 funded project as the most successful post-conflict assistance that the government received.
Since the success of the agriculture program, Georgia has also received money to improve police and border patrol in the country and to help repair the Coast Guard which was decimated by the August war. This money is coming now and we’re continuing to see successes and great impact from the 1207 funding and it’s going to have an impact in Georgia for years to come. It came at the most important time in Georgia to make sure that farmers got back to their fields and that the area was stabilized. We wouldn’t have been able to move so quickly in October, two months after the conflict, if it weren’t for the funding that we got through the 1207 Program.