This spring, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released its latest Policy Framework. The document pulls from goals outlined in the United States’ National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Department of State and USAID Joint Strategic Plan (JSP), and weaves these goals into U.S. development policy. Together, the NSS, JSP, and Policy Framework paint a comprehensive picture of U.S. foreign policy.
The Policy Framework will serve as the guiding light for U.S. development and humanitarian assistance, translating the Agency’s policy and operational approaches and priorities into actions that impact the agency’s staff and communities on the ground. As the agency embarks on the Journey to Self-Reliance alongside partner countries, clearly articulating this vision is more important than ever.
The Policy Framework has much to applaud; stronger language on learning is a high priority for MFAN, and a commitment to working with different local partners is critical to country ownership.
There are also areas where USAID can improve on aid effectiveness within this framework. MFAN raised a few such shortcomings in a letter to USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL). USAID should consider incorporating the following as it implements various aspects of its Journey to Self-Reliance and other development initiatives:
- Identifying ending extreme poverty as central to a country’s Journey to Self-Reliance;
- Increasing investment in data transparency and measuring results for learning and sustainability;
- Tackling cross-border development challenges;
- Ensuring programs seek to reduce inequality; and
- Embedding gender equality as a prerequisite to sustainable development.
While this Policy Framework improves on the previous two iterations, USAID should focus on the above recommendations to make sure U.S. foreign assistance is that much more effective, efficient, and accountable in the future.