As part of an ongoing dialogue with developing world voices, Kenya’s Ambassador to the U.S., Peter N.R.O. Ogego, recently spoke with MFAN on his experiences working with bilateral and multilateral donors and how to reform foreign assistance and aid programs to have a greater impact at fighting poverty and disease, promoting economic growth and innovation, and creating sustainable, accountable societies and governments. Ambassador Ogego articulated six principles of aid effectiveness that should be considered when reforming foreign assistance:
- Greater partnership between donors and recipients of aid. Ambassador Ogego spoke extensively of the problems in the 1970s and 80s in Africa when both bilateral and multilateral aid was provided on a conditional basis with little recipient country consultation, and how the conditionality of aid, as in the Millennium Challenge Corporation model, continues to impact effectiveness.
- Better coordination among donors in country and inside the beltway. This synchronization of aid efforts needs to be transparent so as not to confuse the recipient country agents.
- Emphasis on capacity-building. The Ambassador noted that it is not only a question of providing equipment and technicians to jump-start development efforts, but the level at which donors will transfer the technology and skills to local society.
- Coherent and cohesive assistance policies and programs. Too often donors are unclear in describing their programs and aid packages, which results in wasted energy, resources, and ultimately money. More fundamentally, he argued these policies should be based on recipient country needs and not donor interest.
- Flexible time frame. Outstanding circumstances and shifting priorities may affect what kind of aid is needed and when.
- Standard system of review of aid efforts (or Donor Performance Assessment). The Ambassador suggested that just as outside groups monitor how recipient countries handle aid, the donors themselves should be subject to self-review to determine best practices and streamline efforts.
For the most effective foreign assistance, Ambassador Ogego called on Washington to listen to officials on the ground – including Ambassadors like himself and country directors – and to have the understanding and ability to be flexible in their mission. To garner more public support for U.S. aid efforts, the Ambassador suggested that the U.S. recognize it’s part of a “global village” and use its abundance of resources and technology to lead a proactive and conscious delivery effort, offering our best to those parts of the world struggling to reach their potential. After all, a growing, peaceful Kenya is good for the world.