The Transition Initiatives account promotes stability, peace, and democracy by taking advantage of emerging opportunities for change during political transitions and by supporting local initiatives with flexible programming.
The Transition Initiatives account is managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which was formed in 1994 to bridge the gap between humanitarian aid and long-term development aid. The account provides fast, flexible and short-term assistance to countries that are making a transition to democracy and peace. Each year, OTI helps around a dozen fragile and conflict-affected states build the level of stability needed for successful longer-term development.
Transition Initiatives in Action
Colombia: OTI is supporting the implementation of the peace accords agreed to in 2016 by the Government of Colombia (GOC) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The OTI-funded program supports both the top-down and bottom-up implementation of the accords in critical areas by working with the GOC and grassroots initiatives. It has educated several thousand local leaders on the opportunities provided for their communities in the peace accord and on the effective management of community resources. The program also connects citizens with transitional justice opportunities and government services.
Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, OTI works to help communities prevent the spread of violent extremism. The program provides crucial support to vulnerable communities in the Nord, Sahel, and East regions where high levels of insecurity and violence have closed nearly 40 per cent of the region’s schools and cut off productive opportunities for youth. This support includes tutoring services to hundreds of students to help them pass their exams despite the school closures, offering them a path to steady employment and opening peaceful avenues for addressing grievances.
Investing in Transition Initiatives
The Transition Initiatives account aims to support the evolution from fragility to stable development with programs that demonstrate the benefits of peace agreements, jumpstart democratic processes, and promote long-term reconciliation. With increasing pressure from extreme inequality, climate change and COVID-19, urgent investment is needed in local initiatives that build the foundations of accountable, democratic governance in order to prevent new outbreaks of violence and conflict in these fragile states.
We urge that no less than $112 million be appropriated for Transition Initiatives for FY22. The increase from the FY21 enacted sum of $92 million will enable OTI to quickly and effectively respond to tenuous social and political situations created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We urge no less than $112 million be appropriated to the Transition Initiatives account in FY22.
Transition Initiatives provides fast, flexible, and short-term assistance that takes advantage of political transitions to strengthen democracy and stability, creating a conducive space for long-term development.
Selected Transition Initiatives Programs
Armenia: Following the 2018 “Velvet Revolution,” Armenians elected a new government and began a democratic transition. Soon after, they faced the COVID-19 pandemic and a six-week conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Since 2019, OTI has been working to sustain the democratic transition by helping civil society organizations advocate to and communicate with their government. OTI also provides technical assistance, equipment, and training to local and national government institutions so they can meet the needs of their citizenry. The program aims to strengthen a democratic political culture that values civic engagement, tolerance, and human rights.
Malaysia: Malaysia’s 2018 national elections rejected regional trends towards authoritarianism and fostered optimism among the public for a more democratic future. Since 2018, OTI has been working to support the continued peaceful transition of power and democratic political reforms. OTI partners with the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission, media, and civil society to strengthen the government’ transparency and accountability. OTI is also building the capacity of local civil society to effectively advocate for reform and consolidate gains in newly expanded free media, political and civic spaces.
Niger: Like its neighbors in the volatile Sahel region, Niger is experiencing a sharp increase in crime, violence, and instability. Since 2014, OTI has been working alongside the USAID Niger Mission to support the Government of Niger’s efforts to reduce state fragility and strengthen communities’ resilience. OTI is supporting the Government of Niger’s decentralization efforts, which are designed to provide better government services to citizens in order to address historical grievances and feelings of exclusion, with the aim of increasing communities’ resilience to non-state armed groups.
Ukraine: OTI has been working in Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began in 2014, bolstering the country’s transformation to stable democracy. OTI partners with local civil society groups to promote civic engagement and reinforce a shared vision of a united Ukraine. The program supports fact-based media, particularly in regions vulnerable to disinformation and destabilization efforts by Russia, as well as media that counters negative stereotypes about Donbas residents and promotes narratives about peace and reintegration. Additionally, OTI engages local civil society groups and regional governments to improve stability and build confidence in the democratic transition by supporting the delivery of government services and publicly promoting tangible impacts of the reform process.
This piece was updated by Ursala Knudsen-Latta in April 2021, from a 2020 version originally authored by Ose Okooboh.