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April 22, 2016
We are the World: Development Support in Africa
The work of the U.S. Foreign Service encompasses more than just advancing U.S. interests abroad. A critical part of it remains the mission of development support to the host country. In many instances, this mission is achieved through not only diplomatic meetings and negotiation, but also through music. After the song We Are the World was composed to support Africa during a difficult time of famine, Robert Berg was one of the four people who worked on taking it to the next crucial step: to allocate the funds to help end hunger.
Ever since his first visit to Nigeria on a development mission in 1965, Robert Berg has served during his career in various capacities in Africa—think tanks, non-profit, and private sector—all with a common vision of advancing development. However, this crucial task—both for the host country and the world—does not come easy. On his very first USAID trip to Nigeria, Berg encountered the internal turmoil of the country. As Berg believes, there should be two independent voices: a political one telling a country often what it wants to hear, and a development voice telling them sometimes the hard truth. In less than a year on duty in his initial assignment, Berg became convinced that the onset of a civil war was imminent. He returned to Washington D.C. to report the hard truth that was facing the future of the Nigerian people.
Robert J. Berg’s interview was conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy on August 15, 2012. Please click here(https://adst.org/2021/03/we-are-the-world-development-support-in-africa/ )to read the full oral history.
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