MFAN Members Weigh in on New Development Policy

Noam UngerMFAN Principal Noam Unger, Brookings Fellow and Policy Director of the Foreign Assistance Reform Project, co-wrote a piece exploring the major themes of the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD) with Homi Kharas, also of Brookings.  The authors suggest that the emphasis on modernizing development and ensuring that US agencies have the capacity and authority needed to carry this out, as well as the preeminence of economic growth and partnership reestablishes U.S. leadership in development.  Read the full piece here or see excerpts below:

“The president’s policy, however, seeks to ‘reestablish the United States as the global leader on international development’ by ‘rebuilding USAID as the U.S. government’s lead development agency.’ This is significant because the White House included 16 different agencies across the bureaucracy to review the U.S. approach to development, which fed into the creation of the new policy. Additionally, in his speech on the MDGs, President Obama emphasized that development policies and strategies are about more than foreign assistance. To be the leader for development, USAID, must be able to guide more than just aid. To do so requires clout, capacity and creativity.”

“The administration’s strategy indicates a commitment to a more comprehensive and coherent approach to supporting development outcomes. To the extent that President Obama succeeds in truly elevating USAID in a manner that lasts beyond his tenure, this might also represent a revolution. If the administration’s shift in tone on multilateral cooperation translates into real resources for engagement through such institutions, and through cooperation on the ground, then this too could be a revolution. The degree to which these revolutions succeed through policy implementation will determine whether the U.S. can lead on global development.”

Paul O'BrienAlso this week, MFAN member Paul O’Brien, vice president of policy and advocacy at MFAN Partner Oxfam America, published an op-ed praising President Obama’s speech announcing the new approach to U.S. global development.  O’Brien argued that both the President’s speech and the PPD are right to separate development objectives from security and political objectives carried out by diplomacy and defense.  Though development may support these objectives, the new policy makes clear that development serves long-term US interests of a stable, prosperous world.  Read O’Brien’s piece here and see a few excerpts below:

“The risk with elevating development on a par with diplomacy and defense as a national security tool is that its true purpose–helping people lift themselves out of poverty–will get lost.”

“By “changing how we view the ultimate goal of development”, he signaled that future USAID budgets will focus more on places like those he mentioned–Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Bangladesh–and less on places where funds are being spent now–Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

In redefining development as more than “aid” and promising a coherent development policy for his government, Obama committed himself to tackle the confusion in US policy.”

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