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.
Front and center in discussions around the reform and redesign of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are the objectives of increased efficiency and effectiveness. The agency’s new administrator, Mark Green, who has highlighted these goals from day one, has an excellent opportunity to improve the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness through better generation and use of evidence to inform policy and programming decisions.
Some Answers to the Perpetual Question: Does US Foreign Aid Work—and How Should the US Government Move Forward with What We Know?
Happily, in the last 25 years, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day has dropped by two-thirds. Most of this success is due to major global forces such as trade and cross-border labor mobility. And much of the credit goes to the governments and citizens of developing countries themselves for pursuing the policies that have enabled donor, private sector, and (increasingly) their own resources to translate into development outcomes. But development assistance—including US aid—has made important contributions.
This brief considers how the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) conceptualize ownership and apply the concept in practice. We focus on three pillars: ownership of priorities (the willingness and ability of donors to align their efforts with country priorities); ownership of implementation (the degree to which donors involve local partners in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programs); and ownership of resources (the degree to which a partner country contributes its own finances to the objectives receiving donor support).
For over ten years, the international development community, including the US government, has committed to incorporating greater country ownership into the design and delivery of foreign assistance. This paper makes six broad recommendations for how USAID, MCC, and Congress can help the US government build momentum around its efforts to promote country ownership.