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Sarah Rose is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Her work, as part of the Center’s US Development Policy Initiative, focuses on US government aid effectiveness. Areas of research and analysis include US development policy in fragile states, the use of evaluation and evidence to inform programming and policy, the implementation of country ownership principles, the policies and operation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and aid transition processes. Previously, Rose worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Mozambique as a specialist in strategic information and monitoring and evaluation. She also worked at MCC, focusing on the agency’s country selection and eligibility processes. She holds a Masters degree in public policy and a BS in foreign service, both from Georgetown University.
Attention presidential transition teams: the Rethinking US Development Policy team at the Center for Global Development strongly urges you to include these three big ideas in your first year budget submission to Congress and pursue these three smart reforms during your first year.
Though the spirit of the proposal—a fundamental desire to make US foreign aid more effective—deserves widespread support, any plan to supersize MCC by drastically cutting or eliminating USAID is impractical and counterproductive for two overarching reasons. First, the characteristics that make MCC so appealing also limit its scalability. Making the agency significantly larger would compromise much of what makes it work as well as it does. Second, scaling back or phasing out USAID would eliminate several important functions of US foreign assistance that MCC is not designed nor well-suited to address.
The world, as they say, is moving “beyond aid.” As true as that may be in aggregate, however, the trend doesn’t apply evenly across groups of countries. While fairly significant data gaps prevent a complete and unbiased picture, the available data show that ODA remains a comparatively prominent source of external financing for fragile states.