Skip to main content

In 2015, Chemonics International, a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aimed to transform the global supply chain of health care products. After eight years, multiple extensions, and several independent investigations by agency watchdogs, Chemonics failed to improve the global supply chain for lifesaving medical supplies.

Michael Igoe, an investigative reporter with Devex and the lead author on the piece, spoke with HPH.

Why study this topic?

I got a tip that things were not going well with this project, the largest project that USAID has funded so far. Chemonics spent $10 billion of US taxpayer money to improve supply chains, but key performance indicators suggested that something was really wrong.

What did you find?

USAID and Chemonics were open about initial challenges in the project but insisted they had taken the necessary steps to turn it around. We found reasons to question that narrative. For example, the time to procure and deliver orders actually increased during the contract, from 174 days in 2017 to 263 days in 2022. Technology delays, oversight problems, and the overall structure of the contract undermined the project. As a result, the goal of helping countries take responsibility for their own health supply chains suffered. For example, we found an independent evaluation from Nepal that found that the project was “unlikely to have any transformative or sustainable effect.”

What would you like to see happen based on the results of your work?

As a journalist, I don’t want to make prescriptions as to what should or should not be done. But it’s important to create an evidence base for conversations about U.S. foreign assistance by looking into whether the approach that dominated the previous decades has been effective.

-Maryam Zafar

(Investigative report by Devex, November 2023)

Have an idea for a Snapshot? Send it to

Filed under