Participants at Democracy Camp in the Kyrgyz Republic (IFES, June 2017)

By Pin Thanesnant, AEO Director of Operations

Democracy has been declining across Asia and the Pacific for more than ten years. Information disorder—a term in which distorted and manipulated information is ubiquitous—is believed to be playing a role in destabilizing democracy across the region.

The USAID/Asia Bureau’s Technical Services wanted to understand how distorted information is used to gain and maintain unchecked and unaccountable power in Asia and the Pacific. They asked Integra (under the Asia Emerging Opportunities mechanism) to analyze how information disorder may be affirming authoritarianism in Asia and the Pacific.

Integra approached this question through a series of in-depth country case studies identifying supply- and demand-side factors contributing to information disorder at the national and sub-national levels. The case study countries included the Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand. These countries represent regime types ranging from relatively democratic political systems to de facto military dictatorships.

Five regional experts conducted desk-based research, consulting open-source documents (academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles), think tank reports, publicly available government documents, and broadcast, print, and social media publications. In addition, the experts accessed and explored grey literature, unofficial documents, and other materials not readily available—due to their local networks and language skills. Where there was not enough information for a case study; our experts conducted key informant interviews with people identified through their “on the ground” networks.

Integra found that there has been a long history of information manipulation for political ends in Asia and the Pacific for centuries, focused almost exclusively on influencing operations by states in other states.  Integra also found that the most sophisticated disinformation campaigns identify cleavages and rifts unique to a society. They can insert themselves into a political arena and are constructed around local fears and anxieties. In addition, all case studies revealed a need for mitigation strategies tailored to the local contexts to contain and counter-information disorder. This localization may effectively respond to the challenge put forward by the USAID Administrator Samantha Power to find ways to work with small partner organizations in each country. The case studies found that the most effective mitigation strategies should pursue holistic approaches that consider the many interconnected dimensions of information disorder. Mitigation strategies also need to focus on political and economic conditions rather than just the technical aspects of information disorder. These findings will help USAID understand the causes and consequences of information disorder in Asia and the Pacific, identify strategies to effectively address the issues in the region, and adapt and replicate these solutions worldwide.

June 10, 2021. Integra Government Services International, an international development firm based in Washington D.C., announced today that it was named the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Small Business of the Year.  This award acknowledges not only the contributions of Integra but also the many small businesses that supported USAID providing timely and effective humanitarian response amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Making an impact and transforming our opportunities into opportunities for the beneficiaries and stakeholders of the work we do is core to our Mission. For me and our staff, this award is recognition that we are delivering on our Mission,” said Timothy Schur, CEO of Integra, who accepted the award at the USAID Annual Small Business Conference on Thursday.

USAID’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization uses this award as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the impact of outstanding small businesses’ innovation and support USAID’s small business program. This award recognizes the creative, unique, and extraordinary performance of a small business that has significantly impacted core USAID mission objectives and requirements.

“OSDBU’s Awards Committee reviewed the nominations and selected Integra based on your consistent support of our agency’s Small Business Program and record of performance in support of USAID’s Programs and Missions,” said John Watsons, Office Director (acting), USAID Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.  “Your contributions and support are greatly appreciated by the OSDBU team.”
As a small business, Integra has delivered large-scale impact for 11 years, working across more than 50 different countries, impacting millions of stakeholders, and leveraging over $1.2 billion in public and private investment for development reforms.  The team is proud to “deliver impact from opportunity“ and for being recognized for providing high–quality services that support USAID in their mission to promote a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.

Integra’s Chief Technical Officer, Mr. David Quinn, noted “After more than a decade of partnership with USAID, we are proud that Integra has been selected as small business of the year. Integra has a focused mission to utilize high-quality analytics and private sector engagement to provide large-scale impact for the development community.  We are thrilled to accept this award not only as an acknowledgement of our efforts, but also as recognition of the key role that the small business community plays in supporting USAID. While representing an enormous challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided small businesses the opportunity to quickly pivot and provide creative and innovative solutions to real time development challenges.”

About Integra
Integra is a small-business international development firm dedicated to results-oriented programming that promotes economic growth and improves livelihoods throughout the developing world.  Through rigorous analytical tools and private sector engagement, Integra promotes self-reliance in emerging economies.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.

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