November 12, 2021 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels, and Tessie San Martin.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network commends USAID Administrator Samantha Power on the vision for USAID she outlined on the 60th anniversary of the agency during a speech on November 4 at Georgetown University. Power laid out multiple goals for the agency and its partners to transform the way the U.S. provides development assistance, setting a high bar for the future of USAID, its current and new partners, in order to help ensure the long-term sustainability for U.S. investments.
“In announcing the goal that 25% of all USAID funds go to local partners over the next four years along with the ‘local voices’ target calling for 50% of programming to place local communities in the lead by the end of the decade, the Administrator has outlined a bold and ambitious vision for how the agency will propel locally-led development and sustainable impact. While the devil is in the details when it comes to operationalizing this vision, we are happy to see these elements incorporated in her road map,” stated Tessie San Martin, MFAN Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360.
With continued pressure on people in the Northern Triangle countries to migrate from their homes toward opportunity and safety in other countries, we appreciate the Administrator’s vision in launching the “Centroamérica Local Initiative” – $300 million to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – for sustained, locally driven progress over the next five years. We look forward to engaging with the agency on this new initiative.
For many years MFAN has expressed concern about the state of USAID’s workforce. We understand that the agency cannot achieve its mission without a sufficient, trained staff. “We congratulate Administrator Power for recognizing the role that prioritizing and retaining staff will play in an effective agency. We note that MFAN had called for many of these staffing changes in the set of recommendations it developed for the new Administration, including an expanded role for Foreign Service Nationals and a focus on recruiting a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” said Larry Nowels, MFAN Co-Chair.
MFAN supports effective foreign assistance through its accountability reform pillar. Not only must US aid be transparent, but also its programs must be evidence-based. The impact of USAID’s work is strengthened by employing evidence through the co-creation of programs, monitoring and evaluation, and applying lessons learned to improve current and future programs. “We applaud the Administrator’s establishment of the Office of Behavioral Science and Experimental Economics, reporting to the agency’s Chief Economist, and we look forward to the expansion of this work for improved results,” said Lester Munson, Co-Chair of MFAN and Principal at the BGR Group.
In highlighting the countless challenges facing USAID partners, including COVID-19, climate change, ensuring programs reach women and girls and marginalized populations, and the pressures on democracy across the globe, Administrator Power and her agency clearly face significant challenges. MFAN understands the importance of a vibrant and diverse civil society as partners on this challenging journey and continues to support a Civil Society Engagement Strategy that would bolster USAID’s abilities to achieve success. We look forward to engaging constructively to bring these new goals and strong effectiveness principles forward for the delivery of more effective aid to our partners on behalf of U.S. taxpayers.