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Obama Administration Releases U.S. MDGs Strategy

Obama Administration officials on Friday unveiled the U.S. government’s strategy to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 during a meeting at the U.N. Foundation “that was closed to the press,” Washington Post’s “Checkpoint Washington” blog reports.

The strategy report “puts a heavy emphasis on using innovation and doing a better job of measuring what projects work and what don’t,” the blog reports, before noting, “[t]he plan doesn’t call for new money; it is more of a roadmap on how the U. S. government uses foreign aid” (Sheridan, 7/30).

The U.S. strategy is centered around four goals: to “leverage innovation”; “invest in sustainability”; “track development outcomes, not just dollars”; and “enhance the principle and the practice of mutual accountability,” according to the report. The strategy also highlights successes to date as countries strive to reach MDG targets and challenges ahead to achieving all of the MDGs (USAID, July 2010).

“President Obama has said that the MDGs are ‘America’s Goals’ and the strategy we presented today shows how we can build on our progress to date and achieve the goals in a smarter, more coordinated, and effective way,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said during the meeting, according to a U.N. Foundation press release (7/30).

“This strategy takes a hard look at what needs to happen to put [MDGs] within reach,” Shah said in a statement on the release of the strategy. “USAID looks forward to engaging with advocates, implementers, donors, and partner countries on how to translate these imperatives into projects, programs, and policies to make historic leaps in human development. Working together, we will create partnerships that build sustainable systems to support healthy and productive lives for millions of people” (7/30).

Checkpoint Washington includes reaction to the release of the U.S. MDG strategy, including that by “Greg Adams, director of aid effectiveness at Oxfam America, [who] said the strategy represented an evolution in how to think about foreign assistance,” according to the blog.

“We don’t do development. People and countries develop themselves,” Adams said. “The way you do that well is by investing in the places where there’s local energy for change. That’s the innovative approach that’s talked about in this MDG action plan.” According to the blog, “aid experts had been eagerly awaiting the strategy, which had been promised by Obama” (7/30).

“It is significant that the administration is making the MDGs a priority, both leading up to the September MDG Summit and beyond,” U.N. Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin said, according to the U.N. Foundation press release (7/30).

“The Obama administration has launched major initiatives on improving global health and helping small farmers in impoverished countries,” Checkpoint Washington continues. “But its ambitions may be tempered by cuts in foreign-aid expected in the 2011 budget, which is wending its way through Congress” (7/30).

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