A Note on Aid Reform: Applying the Fundamentals


At our core, MFAN is committed to three principles: transparency of U.S. foreign aid, accountability of our assistance programs, and the local ownership needed to achieve meaningful results. As 2019 gets well underway, MFAN is looking at a number of opportunities to put these principles to practice and increase development effectiveness:

The new U.S. Development Finance Corporation. This month, the administration presented a plan to Congress for the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation. As MFAN has advocated, the USDFC, if designed well, creates an exciting opportunity, expanding exponentially the tools the US Government has at its disposal to advance our nation’s values and economic interests through effective and sustainable foreign assistance. To deliver on this promise, the new DFC should develop an impact assessment framework in order to maximize development results through accountability. It should ensure that its planned accountability mechanism is structured to independently assess environmental, social, labor, human rights, and transparency standards.  And the DFC should take seriously the goal of becoming a world leader in DFI transparency.

Fragile states. Last year, the House passed the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act. Since then, my fellow MFAN Co-Chair George Ingram participated in the Task Force on Extreme Fragile States through the United States Institute of Peace. George wrote about ways in which localization, accountability, inclusivity, and adaptability can be applied in contexts of fragility. Reintroduction and passage of this legislation is an opportunity to codify effectiveness principles into the unique and critical context of vulnerable nations.

The international affairs budget. We’ve all seen the headlines that the White House has yet again presented a budget that cuts the U.S. foreign affairs programs drastically and unreasonably. Not everyone may have seen that the administration did include some aid reform provisions in its budget proposal, including monitoring and evaluation, domestic resource mobilization, and funding for the new DFC. However, these provisions will only be able to advance effectiveness as part of an adequately funded comprehensive foreign affairs resource package. In fact, with a 24% overall cut, we would likely see less efficiency and a reduced impact. We appreciate Congress’ bipartisan engagement in both questioning the wisdom of the cuts and advocating for a reasonable level of funding.  We remain hopeful that a broad budget deal will be reached, enabling more appropriate foreign aid budgeting.

As our calendars fill up this spring, we all need to make sure that each meeting, phone call, email, and memo is aligned with and furthering our goals. Congress and the administration have the opportunity to do this by always keeping in mind the principles of aid transparency, accountability and local ownership. MFAN will be working to make sure that these fundamental principles of effectiveness are meaningfully applied, and we’re hoping that our coalition and your hard work will guarantee that they are.

Lester Munson
MFAN Co-Chair & Principal at BGR Group

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