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Opinions: Foreign Aid Budget; Asking Beneficiaries For Feedback; Least-Developed Countries

Cut Foreign Aid Budget

“As the CR [continuing resolution] talks between the House Republicans and the administration and Senate Democrats near their deadline, the House negotiators should put America’s foreign aid budget on the table,” Dick Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Clinton, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill. “When Americans understand the extent to which we, as the nation running the largest budget deficit in the world, are subsidizing almost every other nation on the planet, their patience will be exhausted,” Morris continues.

Morris notes the rise of American foreign assistance since 2000 and highlights major recipients of such support, before writing, “Even if we hold apart from the proposed moratorium on foreign aid those nations currently in the midst of key foreign conflicts in which there is an American interest – Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Israel – there is still a pool of upward of $30 billion from which to cut.” He writes, “With half the fiscal year remaining, a prorated cut of $15 billion would fill most of the gap between the House and Senate proposals for reduction of spending” (3/29).

Aid Groups Should Ask Beneficiaries For Feedback On Projects

“Over the past five years, we have seen a marked increase in the focus on accountability in what is now a $10bn a year humanitarian industry. But there is no systematic approach to assessing humanitarian operations through the eyes of recipients,” Nicholas van Praag, an adviser for the 2011 World Development report on conflict and development, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”  

“What is missing from the many evaluation reports in the inboxes of humanitarian agencies and donors are independent and systematic assessments based on feedback from beneficiaries themselves,” van Praag writes and describes several low-cost options for eliciting beneficiary feedback. “Capturing their views would complement and give context to conventional data-driven assessments. It would ensure that people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection are better served, and that the resources intended to help them are better used.” Additionally, “it would increase the credibility, and thus attractiveness to potential donors, of those humanitarian agencies that can show they are doing what their beneficiaries need them to do,” he concludes (3/29).

Aiding Development In LCDs ‘Is In The Interests Of All Of Us’

“Seeing the LDCs [least-developed countries] emerge from development stagnation is a humanitarian challenge that is also in the interests of all of us,” Cheick Sidi Diarra – the U.N. under-secretary-general and high representative for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states – writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” “It is a forward movement that can also be an effective rearguard action, potentially sealing off global threats brought on by regional instability, extremist violence, transnational crime and infectious diseases,” she says.

Diarra highlights several challenges to efforts to bolster the LDCs, writing, “The effort will require partnership and harmonious action on two fronts. Assistance with human needs, at one end, so that international and domestic investment, on the other, will have fertile ground in which to take root. I believe that sustainable economic growth is the surest way forward on human development indicators. Assistance by itself is not sufficient for this to happen.” Additionally, she writes, “Getting the job done also depends on continued reforms by LDC leaders, including integrated national development plans, taking into account rural and urban sectors, social needs and economic capacity” (3/30).

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