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USAID will invest millions to boost the oversight of Ukraine's management of aid

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Ukrainian government relies on billions of dollars in direct aid from the U.S. to keep its emergency and public services running during the war. That's kept a sense of normalcy in Ukraine, even after 14 months of Russian missile attacks. The way Ukraine spends this money is strictly monitored, but now the U.S. wants to strengthen that transparency. NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports from Kyiv.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: The U.S. has committed nearly 23 billion in direct budget support to the Ukrainian government since the war began. The money goes to pay doctors, nurses, teachers, first responders, the most essential workers, says Valentyn Stepanets, who lives in Kyiv.

VALENTYN STEPANETS: (Speaking Ukrainian).

KAKISSIS: "Without this help," he says, "it would be very difficult for us, especially during this time of war." Ukraine receives U.S. aid as reimbursements for expenses through the World Bank. Washington also reviews use of those funds with the accounting firm Deloitte. Samantha Power, who's the U.S. Agency for International Development's administrator, says the U.S. wants to help Ukraine improve its budget transparency.

SAMANTHA POWER: Even as the missiles fall, they are trying still to strengthen their democracy and grow their institutions and their checks and balances.

KAKISSIS: USAID says it will invest another $20 million to boost the oversight of Ukraine's management of assistance funds. Power says this money will expand reviews by Deloitte and also establish an independent audit of direct budget support payments.

POWER: The key to accountability is having a robust system in place to provide the American people, the Congress, the Biden administration - all of us - with the assurance that this generous support is going directly to the Ukrainian people, where it belongs.

KAKISSIS: In the central city of Dnipro, retiree Valentyna Kubashevich says most Ukrainians want more transparency in government.

VALENTYNA KUBASHEVICH: (Speaking Ukrainian).

KAKISSIS: And she welcomes any opportunity for help.

Joanna Kakissis, NPR News, Kyiv. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.