Opinion Piece Outlines New Model For Foreign Aid

President Obama’s “comments on foreign aid [in Ghana] make it all the more surprising that the only real change in our foreign assistance programs under his administration so far is in indicated spending” – Carol Adelman, director of the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute, and Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economy scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – write in a Weekly Standard opinion piece. The authors were part of a bipartisan panel that assessed the efficacy of U.S. foreign assistance.

According to Adelman and Eberstadt, “[a] new business model is manifestly required if development assistance is to avoid endlessly repeating past mistakes and if it is to capitalize upon important emerging opportunities.” They reference three “realities” that have not yet been “internalized by our international development assistance agencies and programs.” These include: “economic and demographic” changes that have “tilted the locus of health problems in most developing countries” towards chronic conditions; “an increase in the skill-based talent pool;” and new “major streams of international financial resources.” According to the authors, “[s]ince recipient countries’ policies are almost always far more important than the volume of foreign assistance in hastening the pace of material advance in recipient countries, we need to ask where and how our foreign aid can matter?”

They outline “nine principles of foreign aid projects that work” and describe how their “new model” for foreign aid differs from the status quo. “What matters [with foreign aid] is less a redrawing of organization charts than a serious consideration of how these dollars are delivered and whether they are responding to local ideas and actually reaching partners with stakes in the outcome of the investments,” Adelman and Eberstadt write. “A new business model for foreign aid is the main hope – perhaps the only hope – for fixing a broken system,” they conclude (Adelman/Eberstadt, 8/31).

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