I have seen that development dollars, when directed at both the civil society groups and local governments, add more value and reduce the risk of waste and abuse. More support to local civil society actors means more support for campaigns against corruption.
As part of a broader reform effort to make US foreign aid more effective, USAID is peeling away layers of bureaucracy, bit by bit. The latest casualty in this battle against obscure and painful regulations that get in the way of helping people help themselves? A little thing called the Source, Origin, and Nationality regulation, or S/O/N. The S/O/N required USAID to buy all the goods it needed in the field from the US, and submitting to a lengthy waiver process when this was impractical or costly. After a year-long public consultation, reforms to this clunker of a rule went live this week.
Since Administrator Rajiv Shah came on board, USAID has been trying to rebuild itself so it can build stronger partnerships with poor countries and their people. It’s based in the reality of good development, which is that development isn’t something done by USAID—development is done by poor people and poor countries themselves.
This blog post from Porter McConnell, policy and advocacy manager for aid effectiveness, first appeared on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog.
Secretary Clinton is scheduled to speak today at the OECD’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Her speech gives her the opportunity to push OECD countries in the right direction. We expect the Secretary to emphasize “Domestic Resource Mobilization”—the idea that poor countries themselves have to do more work to make sure that their local assets (taxes, natural resource revenue, etc) are best invested in advancing development. This is fertile ground; there is a lot more that can be done to better employ funds that are already available and under control of poor countries, without rich country interference. But we hope she doesn’t leave out what rich countries need to be doing to make this easier for poor countries.
The United States government has made real progress in the last few years to make its efforts to fight global poverty more effective. President Obama’s new Global Development Policy, released in September, is the centerpiece of these efforts. The new policy—and implementing reforms at USAID—have been rightly celebrated. But much more remains to be done to make the U.S. a true global leader in the fight against poverty.
In 2009, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) was launched. The GHI redoubles US efforts to strengthen health systems, so countries can ultimately care for their own. GHI makes all this progress on HIV, TB, malaria, polio, and other infectious diseases sustainable by strengthening local health systems, and training health workers to manage routine care and prevention. The US is shifting from emergency mode to working with governments and civil society to determine the long-term health needs of their country.
Below are excerpts from MFAN Partners’ statements in reaction to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s extraordinary speech last week. Stay tuned for coverage of the Republican Study Group’s call for severe cuts to USAID’s budget.
MFAN partner Oxfam and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) co-hosted an event on the release of the Open Budget Survey 2010, an independent measure of budget transparency and accountability around the world. See key findings and recommendations here.
Oxfam sees improving information about aid programs as the first step for donor countries, like the U.S., to be supportive and more responsive to country priorities.