Yesterday, Inter Press Service (IPS) posted an interview with MFAN Principal and InterAction CEO and President Sam Worthington. IPS’s Aprille Muscara spoke with Worthington about the role of NGOs in providing emergency relief and long-term reconstruction in Haiti and how foreign assistance reform will lead to more effective development. Worthington mentioned InterAction’s work as a Partner of MFAN, specifically citing the Reform Within Reach campaign, and outlined the principle steps for reform MFAN has been advocating for since its inception. He also provided a clear definition of country ownership. Read an excerpt from his interview after the jump and be sure to read the full interview:
Q: InterAction is part of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s Reform Within Reach campaign, advocating for a reform of the United States’ foreign assistance policy. Why is this kind of reform necessary, and what shape should it take?
A: InterAction was a founding member of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, and has been actively involved in the reform agenda here in the U.S. In this capacity, we have advocated for a number of significant reforms largely because the U.S. foreign assistance structure is broken, with close to 30 U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance and no clear overall strategy.
In this regard, we’ve advocated with MFAN for significant reforms. These include an adoption of a national development strategy by the U.S. government, which is an effort that seems to have been successful; a rewrite of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, and we’ve been closely engaged with Congress on the details of what a new Foreign Assistance Act would look like; and a shift to ensure greater country ownership of U.S. Foreign Assistance.
It is important to understand that when we say ‘country ownership,’ we are not just talking about nation-states, but about broader societal ownership of the development process, which means funding of government programs but also significant funding for civil society efforts, public- private partnerships with businesses and active engagement by the international NGO community in partnership with local civil society in building local capacity.
All of these efforts have a significant momentum in the U.S., and we are witnessing one of the most significant potential reforms in U.S. foreign assistance in over a generation.