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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

MFAN Statement: SFRC Afghanistan Report Includes Positive Signs, Despite Challenges

Thursday, June 9th, 2011
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Senate Report on Afghanistan Foreign Assistance Includes Positive Signs, Despite Challenges

June 9, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Report on Afghanistan assistance released yesterday contains some signs of progress, as well as compelling evidence that the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform U.S. foreign assistance are moving in the right direction. That said, we agree with the report’s conclusion that policymakers must create a long-term  development strategy for Afghanistan that is more comprehensive and accountable.  We continue to need a similar strategy, which was promised in last year’s Presidential Policy Directive on Development, for broader U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, improve public health, and spur economic growth in poor countries. In both strategies, policymakers need to make clear distinctions between assistance for security purposes and assistance for development.

Despite the challenges and shortfalls noted by Senate investigators and the intense media focus on the negative aspects of the report, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about  the direction of U.S. development efforts and policy in Afghanistan and more broadly:

  • The authors “recognize the value of foreign assistance in achieving our national security objectives,” while noting that slashing foreign assistance “is not the most prudent solution” and emphasizing the need for adequate State Department and USAID resources “to ensure a smooth transition” in Afghanistan;
  • The report applauds Administrator Shah’s reform initiatives, including USAID Forward, which are bolstering monitoring and evaluation around the world, overhauling procurement practices, and focusing more on building local capacity to deal with development challenges – all of which are at the root of the shortfalls in foreign assistance outlined by Senate investigators;
  • The report also highlights U.S.-backed Afghan development programs that “exemplify the goals of being ‘necessary, achievable and sustainable:’”
    • The National Solidarity Program, which “promotes subnational governance by setting up community development councils and training them to manage small-scale projects funded by block grants,” has been successful in part because of its “transparent, standardized, and streamlined” disbursements, local ownership of development initiatives, and “strong monitoring and evaluation.”
    • The Basic Package of Health Services, which provides public nutrition and maternal and child health services on levels ranging from community health posts to district hospitals, has increased health coverage rates to 85 percent in 2008 (from only 9 percent in 2003) nationwide and reduced infant mortality by 26 percent.
    • The number of children attending school in Afghanistan has increased sevenfold over the past decade.

We applaud SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and his committee staff for producing this timely and thorough report and urge policymakers to continue supporting both Afghan development programs and the Obama Administration’s overarching foreign assistance reform efforts, which aim to make U.S. assistance more effective, accountable, and results-oriented.

To read MFAN’s updated foreign assistance reform agenda, visit


MFAN Calls for Reform of U.S. Development Policy in a Changing Middle East

Friday, April 15th, 2011
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WASHINGTON, April 13, 2011 — In the aftermath of significant cuts to the international affairs budget, and as policymakers work to reorient U.S. foreign policy in a tumultuous Middle East and North Africa, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) has released a new paper arguing for dramatic changes in the way the U.S. develops and implements foreign assistance programs in the region.

Building on the bipartisan momentum for foreign assistance reform in the U.S., “Charting a New Path for U.S. Foreign Assistance in the Middle East and North Africa” (attached) proposes a range of actions that will ensure future foreign assistance will be more effective, accountable, and responsive to the needs of citizens.  MFAN—a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations—outlines short-term and long-term steps for U.S. policymakers to build the foundation for a sustainable partnership with civil society and responsible governments in transition.

To support continued progress in the Middle East and North Africa, the U.S. must:

  • Maintain momentum for change through aid projects with quick impact and high visibility;
  • Encourage citizens, civil society, and governments in transition to work together to  create their own visions and plans for equitable development;
  • Guarantee political space for the private sector, civil society, women, and youth;
  • Provide fewer resources to militaries and more resources and training for their civilian counterparts; and
  • Provide long-term and predictable support in exchange for commitments to good governance.

This white paper builds on MFAN’s deep engagement with policymakers and the public on reforming U.S. global development efforts for the 21st century. To date, MFAN has played a lead role in advocating for changes including bipartisan reform legislation in Congress, President Obama’s landmark global development policy, the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and USAID’s wide-ranging internal reform agenda. To learn more, please visit

MFAN is a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations. MFAN was created to build upon the bipartisan consensus that has emerged over the last decade that the U.S. should play a leadership role in achieving economic growth and reducing poverty and suffering around the world, and that we can play this role more effectively, efficiently, and transparently. In 2011-2012, MFAN will monitor and encourage the Administration’s development policy reform agenda and support action in Congress to achieve bipartisan agreement and legislation in support of reform.

MFAN STATEMENT: Budget Cuts Increase Urgency of Foreign Assistance Reform

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
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April 13, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe:

The significant cuts to U.S. foreign assistance announced as part of the FY11 budget agreement make it imperative that foreign assistance reform become a priority, so that we can get the most out of fewer resources for alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and forging sustainable economic growth in developing countries.

At a time of increasingly complex global challenges, when our efforts to bolster public health and empower poor entrepreneurs are just as important as our military actions or diplomatic ventures, we must drive these reforms to increase our foreign assistance leadership, effectiveness, and accountability.

We are not starting from square one. Building on the landmark changes made under President Bush, the Obama Administration and bipartisan Members of Congress have increased the momentum for foreign assistance reform. Two related bills in the last Congress garnered bipartisan support. Late last year, President Obama unveiled America’s first-ever development policy, which focuses on economic growth, efficiency, and selectivity. The State Department completed the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which laid out a path to better coordination in international affairs programs. And the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pushed an aggressive internal cost-savings and reform effort, USAID FORWARD, under Administrator Raj Shah.

The current budget and geopolitical environments demand that the Obama Administration and bipartisan Members of Congress build on these reforms and finish the job of making U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable for the future.

Please visit for more information on MFAN’s reform agenda.

MFAN Statement: Budget Landscape Increases Urgency of Foreign Assistance Reform

Monday, February 14th, 2011
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February 14, 2011 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe:

As Congress begins debate this week on funding the government for the remainder of 2011, we support current spending levels in the international affairs budget. Foreign assistance is not a nice-to-have perk in a world where complex challenges defy narrow solutions; it is a must-have pillar of our foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defense. In addition, now more than ever, foreign assistance reform must move forward, in order to make sure we can get the most out of every dollar we spend on development.

We are acutely aware of the dangers a growing deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio pose to economic growth and security in the United States.  But disproportionately drastic cuts in the foreign assistance budget being considered by the House of Representatives this week would undo a decade’s worth of progress against global poverty and disease, and adversely affect our security, prosperity, and leadership in the world.

For around 1% of the federal budget, experts from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and other agencies are empowered to work hand-in-hand with our diplomats and members of the Armed Forces to help build accountable institutions and increase stability in “frontline” states like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen.  These professionals are also deployed to help boost private-sector and middle-class growth and reduce poverty in developing countries, the fastest-growing markets in the world. Our development efforts in these countries are crucial to opening up export opportunities for American businesses and building stable, long-term trading partners and allies. Were we to pull back, the void left behind would surely be filled by other countries that do not share our values.

We must also finish the job of implementing the serious reforms to U.S. foreign assistance that have been pushed forward on a bipartisan basis over the last decade.  The focus now should be on two key actions, which will increase the effectiveness of all of our development programs, particularly marquee efforts like the Global Health Initiative and the Feed the Future agricultural development program:

  • Enacting USAID Forward: To transform USAID into a modern development enterprise so that it can make the best use possible of limited resources and achieve more dynamic results, the budget should provide strategic resources for strengthening accountability and evaluation; changing inefficient procurement practices; and investing in innovation, science, and technology.
  • Implementing the President’s Landmark Development Policy: To ensure that all U.S. development activities are more coordinated, efficient, and effective, the budget should focus resources on bolstering economic growth and democratic governance around the world, while at the same time being more selective about who gets our assistance and cutting programs in places where U.S. partners are ready to take more ownership and responsibility.

We call on the Administration and Congress to work together to complete the reforms and build a modern development enterprise for the U.S., so that we can maximize the returns on our development investments at a time of complex budgetary and geopolitical challenges.

MFAN Statement: RSC Budget Proposal Would Derail Progress on Foreign Assistance Reform

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
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January 26, 2010 (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 strongly oppose last week’s Republican Study Committee budget proposal, which would cut all operating expenses at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  The cuts would derail the comprehensive reform agenda underway inside the agency, at a time when its ability to perform effectively is crucial to our national security, our economic interests, and the lives and well-being of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.

USAID is a crucial partner of the United States military in “frontline states” including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, where the agency’s civilian development professionals train security forces, support efforts to bolster democracy and the rule of law, and improve quality of life for people in areas where extremism thrives.  Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen, and Afghanistan Commander Petraeus have called for strengthening these civilian programs, noting that the military does not want, and is not designed or equipped to carry, the extra burden of leading development programs.  Secretary Gates also said recently that helping countries develop “is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

The agency also builds critical agricultural growth programs, entrepreneurship initiatives, and community health efforts that help developing countries, the fastest growing markets in the world, mature and become better partners for U.S. exports and investment.  Just as the U.S. supported the Green Revolution in agricultural development in the 20th century – which helped countries like South Korea become strong trading partners and stalwart allies – we must continue this work by supporting the growth of vibrant private sectors and healthy middle classes, thriving civil societies, and empowered citizens in developing countries.

Most importantly, USAID Administrator Raj Shah is making progress on a tough reform agenda that would decrease inefficiencies; make the agency more selective, accountable and better at evaluating results; “graduate” countries that no longer need U.S. assistance; and uphold economic growth and empowered citizens as core goals of all development efforts.  We believe this reform effort must be given a chance to succeed, and we hope bipartisan Members of Congress will play a constructive role in making the agency more effective and accountable by helping to enshrine these and other foreign assistance reforms in law.