U.S. ‘Among The Lowest’ In Aid Quality And Effectiveness, Report Finds

The U.S. “ranks among the lowest in terms of the quality and effectiveness of its aid,” according to a new Center for Global Development (CGD)/Brookings Institution report, Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog writes. The report examined “30 separate, measurable indicators and evaluated them in terms of four dimensions: maximizing efficiency (how smartly the money is distributed), fostering institutions (whether the money is helping host governments), reducing the burden on recipient countries (how much the host countries need to do to get the money), and transparency and learning (how much we know about how the aid is being spent).”

“The Cable” explains that “[a]lthough the United States does poorly overall when compared to other countries or multilateral organizations, some agencies rate better than others: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Defense Department get poor marks, while the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) does much better” (Rogin, 10/6).

According to the Washington Post’s “Political Economy” blog, in all four dimensions, the U.S. “finished 24th or lower out of the 31” donor countries and multilateral agencies examined. “Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Norway tended to score highest among the national programs, while the International Development Association – the lending arm of the World Bank was among the top-ranked of the multilateral agencies that were studied,” the blog reports (Schneider, 10/5).

U.S. foreign assistance operations have “suffered by attempting to address too many of the world’s problems,” The Cable adds. “Over many years USAID has been subjected to more kinds of pressures that have made it less and less efficient, particularly on fostering institutions,” said Nancy Birdsall, CGD president. The blogs notes that “Birdsall was optimistic that the current administration was making progress in improving the way the United States distributes aid” (10/6).

A post by study co-author Homi Kharas, deputy director of the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development program, on the Institute’s “Up Front Blog” states that out of the 152 agencies examined, “no one country or agency dominates across all four categories” of aid quality. “There is no relationship between the volume of aid and the quality of aid,” the post concludes (Kharas, 10/1). The CGD’s “Global Prosperity Wonkcast” features an audio interview with report co-authors Birdsall and Kharas (10/4).

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