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MFAN Member Responds to President Obama’s MDG Plan

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Below is a guest blog post from MFAN member Porter McConnell, Policy Advisor for Oxfam America’s Aid Effectiveness team, on today’s release of the U.S. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) strategy:

President Obama is releasing the US’s MDG strategy today…but where’s the bigger plan?

OxfamThe Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit is coming up in September. World leaders will discuss how to end hunger, send kids to school, keep mothers and their babies healthy, stop HIV/AIDS from becoming a death sentence, and all kinds of other poverty-fighting goals.

It’s a tall order. So President Obama asked USAID to produce a plan for doing the US share to meet the MDGs. Today, the White House releases that MDG action plan.

A plan to fight the MDGs is a great stepping stone in fighting global poverty, but it’s not the whole story. If the US is committed to fighting global poverty, President Obama needs to deliver a global development strategy at the upcoming MDG Summit.

Akayema reading a plan

I’m happy to report that the MDG action plan mentions a new “development policy” coming out soon. Why is it so important that the US come up with a plan to fight poverty? Until the US has some kind of mission statement, all of these piecemeal reform efforts are like a ship without a compass. Why bother investing in “game changing innovations” if we don’t know what destination we’re trying to get to?  Which innovations? To do what? How do we know when we’ve succeeded?

The good news is the White House may already have its mission.  In a document leaked this spring, here’s what they had to say:

“Helping to create a world with more prosperous and democratic states, able to meet the needs of their people and to be our partners in addressing common threats, challenges and opportunities.”

I think that’s a pretty great mission. Why not make it official?

And while you’re at it, tell us how you intend to get there. On the campaign trail, you committed to “Elevate, streamline, and empower a 21st Century US development agency.” I can’t think of a better way to put global poverty front and center!

And finally, show us how the US can make a truly lasting impact, and put ourselves out of the aid business. Borrowing a line from your own playbook, in the leaked document this spring:

“The US will respond directly to country priorities, making new investments in line with established national strategies and country development plans.  Where our partners set in place systems that reflect high standards of transparency and accountability, the US will empower responsible governments to drive development and sustain outcomes by working through national institutions rather than around them.”

President Obama, thanks for the MDG action plan. Looking forward to seeing that global development strategy at the MDG Summit in September!

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