MFAN Principal Ray Offenheiser: ‘Aid Needs Help’

Ray Offenheiser 1MFAN Principal and President of Oxfam America Ray Offenheiser makes the case for why the Obama Administration needs a National Strategy for Global Development in a new oped in Foreign Policy.  He argues that before the outdated foreign assistance apparatus can be reformed — and in light of operational reforms likely to come out of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) — the President needs to clearly articulate his vision for U.S. global development efforts.  This vision, based on findings from the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7) will then serve as an overarching strategy to guide reform efforts.  See excerpts from Offenheiser’s piece below:

“The fact that one-third of the planet — 2 billion people — remains trapped in poverty poses a singular challenge to the interests and values of the United States. Obama agrees, and has framed development as one of the three pillars of U.S. national security, along with defense and diplomacy. But his government is still trying to address this 21st-century challenge with a 20th-century toolkit.”

“By merely tinkering with the existing system without a clear a vision for what U.S. development efforts should achieve, the Obama administration could end up making things worse, not better. Each new plan, legislative proposal, initiative, or objective further confuses the existing system. Together, they represent a failure of leadership and strategy that hobbles U.S. efforts to fight global poverty.”

“The administration needs to step back and deliver a clear articulation of mission and strategy to guide reform — a National Strategy for Global Development. For those of us in the development community, such a strategy should answer a few basic questions. What are the intended outcomes of U.S. global development policy? How do we know we are investing in the right things? How do we know if development assistance efforts are successful? And how can we best help poor countries — and poor people — lead their own development?”

“Obama’s strategic goal should be to support those citizens and governments who are working together to achieve private-sector driven economic growth that is broad-based, equitable, and sustainable. The strategy’s scope should not be limited to foreign aid, but should reflect the impact of other global policies, such as trade and migration, on development outcomes. The strategy should link global development and humanitarian response both to American values and to U.S. national interests. Importantly, it should clarify that it is always in the U.S. interest to adhere to the principles of effective development and humanitarian response and to seek sustainable development outcomes even in those settings where the United States needs to employ development aid for diplomatic or defense purposes.”

Read the full piece here.

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