Tuesday, January 25, 2011

There is hope that going forward US aid to developing countries will, well, actually help them develop...See how within...

The manner in which the US conducts and administers foreign aid is open to lots of criticism.  I believe some good has come from it over time, but at great cost. I am 100% for helping poor countries get a leg up and start on the road to economic development, but the approach for the last 50 years has be relatively ineffective.  NOW there is hope if the new person in charge of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) can change the bureaucratic inertia and out-moded thinking that drives US aid right now. See the article below for  some of the bolder statements made by the new Administrator. I highlighted the paragraphs I like the most and strike at the heart of what is needed to effectively help poor countries.  It is imperative that all aid efforts be as local as possible, from the resources used to the people responsible for a programs success.  We cannot transplant sustained economic growth, it has to be homegrown and nurtured.  This seems intuitive, but it is not the way aid has been carried out in the last 50 years.  It remains to be seen if he can do it, but I like the attitude. Those of you interested in a career in international development will want to read the article in full. (HT: Barbara Pierce)

Washington Post: New administrator wants to change the way USAID works

"This agency is no longer satisfied with writing big checks to big contractors and calling it development."

"There's always another high-priced consultant that must take another flight to another conference or lead another training," he said. "This practice simply must end." The declaration drew applause from the Center for Global Development audience...."

""He said reform of USAID contracting will mean accelerated "funding to local [non-governmental organizations] and local entrepreneurs, change agents who have the cultural knowledge and in-country expertise to ensure assistance leads to real local institutions and lasting, durable growth."

""Instead of going completely with U.S. or other contractors who could put up all the needed housing immediately, Shah sent procurement-reform teams to Haiti to work with local construction companies. He admitted this approach slowed "the process a little bit because it would always be faster to just go in with prefab housing" built elsewhere. But helping local construction companies learn how to use local materials, including from the rubble, meant re-building damaged homes to a higher earthquake standard and "allowed us to work with and nurture a local construction industry," he said.""
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