See below for a guest post from Nora O’Connell, Associate Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children and Co-Chair of MFAN’s Country Ownership Working Group.
Recently, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) launched the ACCOUNTdown campaign and scorecard to push for greater aid effectiveness reform by the Obama Administration. ACCOUNTdown focuses on the U.S. government’s progress to strengthening its international development programs’ accountability and country ownership.
The ACCOUNTdown report highlighted a range of improvements by various U.S. development agencies and departments. We welcome these incremental shifts, but with just less than a year and half left in this Administration, we want to see more.
We know from Save the Children’s own work that embedding accountability and ownership in programs can have an impact on the ground. Whether it is health, education, or nutrition programming, the most lasting impact occurs when local potential is nurtured to enable countries and communities to achieve their own aspirations. Aid can and should do that better. Here are four things that could make a difference now.
- Too much USAID funding is still being driven by priorities set by the U.S. government in Washington, rather than aligned with host-country strategies. When aid is driven by Washington, then Washington funding goes away, so does a lot of the progress. But when aid is part of a partnership with local communities, governments and civil society, then the results are not only continued by the people in those countries – they are magnified.
- The introduction of USAID’s Local Solutions initiative in 2010 set a target for increased direct flows of U.S. government resources to developing countries. But partnership is more than that; USAID must start measuring how it’s increasing local capacity more broadly.
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) was created in 2004 in part to enable more country-driven approaches; their country compact development process is a good example of aligning with host country priorities. MCC should work to increase the use of country systems and local partners in high-performing countries to extend country ownership.
- The U.S. government has made progress in helping countries finance their own development and should continue to do so. This was illustrated in the announcement of the Addis Tax Initiative and PEPFAR’s launch of the innovative health financing initiative which reflect how the U.S. is supporting domestic resource mobilization for development.
The U.S. government can take many additional steps in the next 18 months to further its commitment to country ownership and accountability to have a greater impact through its on-the-ground programming.
As an active MFAN member, we look forward to future progress reports from the ACCOUNTdown campaign as a way to ensure the Obama administration honors its commitments to aid effectiveness.