USAID Faces Challenge Of Balancing Short-Term Development Results, Longer-Term Institutional Strengthening

Washington Post: Why international aid so often falls short — and sometimes makes things worse
Brad Parks, executive director of AidData; Mark Buntaine, assistant professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Department of Political Science at the University of California at Santa Barbara; and Benjamin Buch, PhD candidate in political science at Stanford University

“…If [USAID Administrator Mark Green] acquiesces to the demands of his political, technical, and financial overseers in the executive and legislative branches, USAID will find it difficult to prioritize institutional strengthening in weak states — and probably will have to focus instead on programs that produce specific and measurable results over short time horizons. However, if he focuses on the long game and patiently invests in programs that can create indigenous capacity and produce more sustainable results, USAID will probably face fierce criticism for being insufficiently results-oriented. Helping weak states begin the long process of getting unstuck is a worthy endeavor. But our research suggests that success will remain elusive until USAID, its partners, and its overseers end the ‘pick-an-easy-target-and-call-it-success’ charade” (9/19).