By combining field research with interviews among recipients of aid and U.S. policymakers, MFAN Partner Oxfam America has created a compelling case for country ownership. Their latest policy brief “Information: let countries know what donors are doing” is correlated with the Ownership report, which was released last September. 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.
For this paper, Oxfam interviewed 200 representatives from governments, civil society organizations, and U.S. aid agencies, contractors, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that implement aid programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, and Rwanda to determine how recipient countries use U.S. aid. These insights then informed a discussion among policymakers here in Washington as to possible policy solutions that would make U.S. aid programs more transparent and predictable. Major recommendations from this discussion include:
- Ensure that emerging legislation also speaks to the needs of recipient governments and their citizens;
- Enable more systematic informal information exchange;
- Consider putting aid on budget;
- Ensure that policies and efforts of the administration promote aid transparency;
- Provide longer-term funding;
- Ease earmarks;
- Institute a flexible funding mechanism; and
- Support capacity for transparency in countries.
The other two principles besides information that Oxfam believes are essential to making U.S. foreign more effective in helping developing countries take ownership of their own development are capacity and control. Be sure to take a look at this first paper on the importance of information, and let us know if you would recommend other solutions to strengthening transparency and predictability of U.S. foreign assistance programs.