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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Special Self-Help Program (SSH)


Sept. 22, 2003 - Baking facility at Horisonte Azul [Embassy Luanda photo]The Ambassadors' Special Self-Help (SSH) Program in sub-Saharan Africa falls under the authority of the Development Assistance policy of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended, with such assistance funds appropriated to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  USAID's delegation of authority (not limited) can in turn be delegated to Ambassadors, making it possible for them to respond to requests for assistance with small community projects that promise to have immediate impact and may add to the advancement of U.S. objectives.  This delegation encompasses the authority to negotiate, execute, amend, implement, and otherwise administer SSH agreements with foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations in accordance with the Special Self-Help Guide of May 2002.  

This can often be done within the basic structure of currently established community programs.  For example, under a road project, the community can construct an essential footbridge which has been virtually unusable or nonexistent during rainy seasons.  Financing of sewing machines or other equipment can be arranged for a vocational training project or an adult education organization.  Frequently, communities would like to improve their living quarters or community buildings but are unable to do so without SSH assistance in purchasing a brick-making machine.    


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