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When Transitioning Countries From Aid, U.S. Must Design Thoughtful Legacy Programs

Devex: Opinion: What comes after strategic transitions matters. Here’s why.
Connie Veillette, senior fellow for global food security and aid effectiveness at the Lugar Center and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network

“USAID Administrator Mark Green has rightly declared that the mission of aid agencies, and I would add aid NGOs and other thought leaders, is to work ourselves out of business. To that end, he has initiated a process to transition countries off assistance, what USAID is calling the Journey to Self-Reliance. … Along with recommendations on principles that should guide transitions and metrics to track progress, Administrator Green asked the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Assistance to examine legacies (also called leave-behinds) that make up post-transition engagement. … Legacy programs should be specific to a country … Legacy programs can still address development challenges … Legacy programs need buy-in across the U.S. government … We have witnessed previous attempts to withdraw our aid from countries only to find ourselves needing to return for one reason or another. These do not always reflect failures in the transition process, but may signal a failure in choosing the countries from which to transition or a lack of careful planning for how we chose to transition. The properly designed legacy goes a long way to helping countries stay firmly on their journeys to self-reliance” (4/24).