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Archive for the ‘Pressroom’ Category

Groups Welcome the Release of Administration Proposal for International Food Aid Reform

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
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Below is a joint statement, which was released earlier today on the rumored changes to the U.S. approach to food aid in President Obama’s FY14 budget request. The statement welcomes reports that these changes may include useful reforms and is endorsed by 12 organizations, including MFAN.

food aid groups

Washington, DC, February 26, 2013 - The above groups welcome reports that the Administration may propose helpful reforms to the U.S. food assistance program in its FY2014 budget submission to Congress. We urge the Obama Administration to include a bold reform proposal that builds upon the United States’ historic leadership as the world’s most generous donor of food aid.

When 870 million people around the world go hungry every day, making every food aid dollar count is not only a responsible use of taxpayer money, it is a moral imperative. For that reason, it is critical that any reforms seek efficiencies rather than cuts, and do not alter the basic programmatic focus of the U.S. food aid program. These programs help to feed 55 million people in need around the world, supporting both emergency responses and addressing chronic hunger.

Our organizations strongly support effective foreign assistance to address humanitarian crises and development challenges. We know from our work on the ground that this aid saves lives.  That is why we have advocated for common sense reforms to our outdated food aid system that would allow the United States to continue providing life-saving assistance for millions of people around the world, even in this period of a constrained federal budget.

Making every dollar count for hungry people means adding flexibility to our overseas food assistance so that proven methods such as local and regional purchase (LRP) are part of the food aid toolbox. The recent release of an independent evaluation report of the USDA LRP Pilot Program, established under a provision of the 2008 farm bill, confirms that this approach is a triple win: providing considerable cost savings, faster humanitarian response, and support for the local farmers and agricultural markets that are the key to providing long-term global food security.

Making every dollar count for hungry people also means reducing the inefficient and potentially market distorting practice of selling U.S. commodities to fund non-food components of programs designed to support agriculture, nutrition and food security. It would be far more efficient to fund these activities directly, instead of through circuitous and inefficient route of monetizing food aid.

In a June 2011 report, the Government Accountability Office found that the use of monetization resulted in at least a 30 percent loss of resources to non-emergency food aid projects conducted from 2008-2010.

In the current budgetary climate, policymakers cannot afford to ignore any credible proposal to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars while maintaining and even increasing program reach and impact. Our organizations stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to reform our international food aid system so that we can continue to respond to the scourge of global hunger today and build toward a hunger-free future tomorrow.

 

ONE’s Video Series Tells Truth about Foreign Aid

Friday, January 11th, 2013
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As advocates for more effective foreign assistance, MFAN understands the critical role our aid programs have had in alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and promoting opportunity for millions struggling in the developing world. We also understand that these programs, which make up just 1 percent of our budget, are investments for a more prosperous, secure world.

It’s encouraging to see that, when given the facts, most Americans agree.

Over the past year, the ONE Campaign went around the country interviewing everyday Americans to ask what they thought about foreign aid. As Meagan Bond, ONE’s creative manager writes, “I met small business owners struggling to stay afloat, stay-at-home moms, students, bankers, roofers, truck drivers, teachers, youth ministers, and a man staying at a local shelter while he looked for a new job.

The results of these interviews are captured in their new “Man on the Street” video series. In each of the different locations, the responses were overwhelmingly similar: they thought the U.S. spent too much on foreign aid, until they were given the facts. See one of the videos below:

What were the facts? ONE shared that foreign aid made up less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget and had helped to accomplish some pretty amazing things, including getting 8 million people on life-saving AIDS medication and helping more than 1 billion people through smarter agricultural programs.

Once given these facts, people quickly moved from being skeptical to supportive and even glad to hear that their tax dollars were helping to bring about such positive change.

ONE is asking people to share these videos far and wide to help educate Americans on the facts of foreign aid—and MFAN encourages you to do the same. When more people understand the small percent of the budget we spend on foreign aid—and the outsized impact these programs have—it will be easier to make the case for continued support and continued American leadership on foreign aid.

 

MFAN Statement: MFAN Applauds Congressman Howard Berman’s Introduction of Global Partnerships Act to Modernize U.S. Foreign Assistance

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
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December 12, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe:

We commend Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), a leading advocate for U.S. global development programs and foreign assistance reform, for introducing the Global Partnerships Act of 2012 (H.R. 6644).

The goal of H.R. 6644 is to replace the outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a modern, responsive legislative foundation to guide U.S. development programs. As Congressman Berman has long said, it is critically important to have this kind of clear roadmap for development in a world that has changed so dramatically over the last 50 years. The legislation embraces the principles of effective, sustainable development that are now considered best practice in the international community and referenced in President Obama’s landmark Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD). MFAN is particularly pleased with the priority placed on the following reforms:

  • Promoting country ownership and partnering with local governments and citizens to set priorities;
  • Strengthening accountability and transparency through rigorous monitoring and evaluation;
  • Ensuring program decisions are evidence-based; and
  • Adopting a more integrated, coordinated, outcome-based approach to development that is flexible within and across sectors and agencies.

Congressman Berman and his staff deserve special credit for their consensus-building efforts around the bill, achieved through a series of consultations—many of which MFAN convened—with organizations and individuals in the development community. This bill reflects a shared vision from the community, including about the importance of reforms that are already being implemented, such as USAID’s five-year Country Development Cooperation Strategies, the MCC’s recently released independent impact evaluations, and the Foreign Assistance Dashboard.

The introduction of the Global Partnerships Act provides an opportunity for Members of Congress, including new Members, to work together in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen accountability and effectiveness in U.S. development programs. As the 113th Congress approaches, we encourage policymakers to consider this comprehensive, long-overdue proposal that would bring our foreign assistance into the 21st century and allow us to more effectively address new and pending global challenges.

 

Aid Transparency: Will Obama and Romney Walk the Walk?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
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MFAN’s Co-Chair George Ingram writes about how aid transparency is critical to making U.S. foreign assistance more effective in a new op-ed. Ingram urges the Obama administration to continue to push forward on steps it has taken to increase transparency—especially as part of the Open Government Partnership—as well as positive action in Congress, including last month when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012.

Notably, Ingram also cites Bulletin No. 12-01 issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which directs 22 U.S. government agencies to publish foreign assistance data in a common format consistent with the standards of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

Read Ingram’s full op-ed in The Huffington Post here.

 

 

MFAN Statement: Lugar-Rubio Bill Signals Commitment to More Transparent, Accountable Foreign Assistance

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
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September 19, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

In a period of intense political polarization, MFAN is pleased that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came together to pass The Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 3310) earlier today. This bipartisan legislation demonstrates broad agreement that the U.S. has an important role to play overseas and that we can drive better development outcomes with these critical reforms.

S. 3310 was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking (SFRC) Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), with the support of SFRC member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), as a companion measure to H.R. 3159, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) that has garnered 55 cosponsors in the House. Both bills would improve the overall transparency of and accountability for U.S. foreign assistance by establishing a common standard for measuring the performance of programs across every federal agency that administers foreign aid and ensuring that such evaluations and reports are made publicly available to American taxpayers.

S. 3310 builds on bipartisan legislation sponsored by SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Lugar in the 111th Congress (S. 1524)—and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—that sought to increase the accountability and transparency of U.S. foreign assistance. It also reinforces important efforts by the Obama Administration to improve aid transparency, including creating the Foreign Assistance Dashboard to collect comprehensive reporting from each agency engaged in overseas development.

The U.S. approach to development must be a partnership between the executive and legislative branches, and we believe the passage of S. 3310 in SFRC is a strong indication of greater cooperation in the months and years to come. We urge the full Senate to approve this bill before the end of the 112th Congress and look forward to working with members of both the House and Senate on its passage.