USAID has announced its intention to pursue “strategic transitions”—shifting select countries which have achieved an advanced level of development to a model of US engagement that relies less on traditional development assistance and more on other forms of cooperation. This paper seeks to inform USAID’s approach to strategic transitions by offering 1) a review of lessons learned from past USAID transitions and mission closures as well as similar efforts undertaken by other bilateral aid agencies; 2) an assessment of the advantages and drawbacks of using quantitative benchmarks to identify countries for transition, as well as an illustrative framework for evaluating countries’ transition readiness; and 3) a selection of tools and approaches the US government can leverage to create a path for sustained country engagement.

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