IPS Reports On USAID’s Implementation And Procurement Reform

Inter Press Service examines recent changes at USAID in line with President Barack Obama’s vision to help build “the capacity of developing countries so that they can develop themselves.”

Obama outlined this idea during the Millennium Development Goal summit in New York last month. “Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development; that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break,” Obama said. “Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty,” he added.

USAID is involved with implementation and procurement reform, or IPR, which is an “early outcome” of Obama’s effort to “imagine a world where aid is no longer necessary,” said Maura O’Neill, chief innovations officer at the agency. “A USAID factsheet lists the first objective of the reforms as strengthening partner country capacity to improve aid effectiveness and sustainability. This development would directly address breaking the cycle Obama alluded to in September … It would also address promises the U.S. and other countries made in 2005 when they agreed to take steps toward increasing country ownership and other development priorities as part of the Paris Declaration,” IPS writes.

The next step for the agency is “to implement reforms that will help citizens and governments in developing countries build up the capacity to be able to take charge of their own development,” according to the news service. To accomplish this, “USAID will increase the amount of money it channels through country systems from less than 10 percent to 20 percent in at least 25 countries by fiscal year 2015.” Currently six local capacity-building projects are up and running in Egypt, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand, O’Neill said. “She says that the reform targets associated with IPR are expected to not only increase in future years but also have a broader impact on USAID’s work as the agency ‘learns better, quicker ways to arrive at development outcomes.’ In that sense, she says, IPR is a ‘base initiative’ for broader efforts,” IPS reports.

The agency is “also looking at ways to decrease the incidence of poor governance and corruption – which critics of increasing country ownership point to as a potential flaw of the reforms,” IPS notes.

Gregory Adams, Oxfam America’s director of aid effectiveness, provides analysis throughout the piece (Berger, 10/25).

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