While global development is about much more than aid, US foreign assistance is, and will remain, one of the most visible tools for US development policy in many countries. The US government spends less than 1 percent of its annual budget — about $23 billion — on nonmilitary foreign assistance across the globe. These programs have consistently come under fire for failing to achieve measurable and sustainable results, ignoring local priorities and contexts, perpetuating bureaucratic inefficiencies and inflexibility, and repeating mistakes over time. A paradigm shift within US aid agencies is needed. In this brief, we outline concrete proposals that would address many of the traditional shortcomings of US foreign aid approaches.
In this paper, part of the Innovations in Aid series, Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray describe shifts in the objectives of overseas development assistance (ODA) over time and conclude that it is time to put the concept itself to bed—in favor of what they propose should be called “Global Policy Finance.”