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Posts Tagged ‘developing world’

Feed the Future: A Promising New Model of Development

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
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A Guest Blog Post by Mannik Sakayan,

Senior Policy Analyst, Bread for the World

Every day, troubling data suggests that the ranks of hungry and poor people around the world are again expanding. For organizations who work to shed light on global hunger and poverty, the data is not news. Yet we hold in our policy cache smart, sustainable solutions to addressing the root causes of persistent global hunger and poverty.

Over the years, Bread for the World has joined forces with other global hunger advocates in calling for sustainable solutions to a path out of hunger and poverty for millions of men, women, and children in developing countries. We have done so by calling for focused agricultural development investments that take into consideration local needs and wants. And we have called for efforts to scale up and replicate the programs that work in order to get the most for our investments.

Fortunately, Feed the Future, the administration’s comprehensive food security and agricultural development initiative that launched in 2009, holds the promise to re-establish U.S. leadership in global agricultural development. It also holds the promise to address the root causes of global hunger through sustainable economic growth. It aims to achieve this through inclusive agricultural sector growth and improved nutritional status of women and children.

We have seen successes. New and innovative approaches to agriculture have helped save hundreds of millions of lives in Asia and Latin America. Yet the promise of alleviating hunger and poverty for people throughout the developing world should have served as an impetus to do more and to commit targeted resources to the programs that worked well. Instead, over the last few decades, changing global circumstances and priorities resulted in a gradual decrease in funding for agricultural development. With declining investments came diminished capacity in U.S. technical expertise. Rebuilding our technical capacity and recommitting the necessary resources will certainly be a heavy lift, but not an impossible one.

Feed the Future takes an innovative approach to bilateral assistance and offers a new model of development that takes stock of global needs as well as our own strengths in order to maximize the impact of the investments. Through country-led investment strategies, the United States will work in partnership with developing country governments to strengthen their agricultural capacity, with particular focus on smallholder farmers. Feed the Future calls for a consultative process with national stakeholders that best understand local needs and wants.

Feed the Future also includes a multilateral component, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), housed at the World Bank, to leverage donor contributions from other governments, foundations, and the private sector. Similar to Feed the Future, GAFSP allocates resources based on country-led proposals.

Both Feed the Future and GAFSP offer a new model of development that holds substantial promise. It is a sound development strategy based on targeted investments and measurable results. It has the all-important elements of reform—rigorous standards for monitoring and evaluation, accountability and transparency, country-led programming, and consultation—that are greatly needed to bring U.S. development policy into the 21st century.

Now is not the time to squander the momentum for lasting change. Hunger has never been a partisan issue. Now is not the time to make it one. Our leadership and commitment to save lives and prevent political instability around the world are at stake.

The way forward is to build broad, bipartisan support for enacting legislation that would codify the goals of Feed the Future so that it lives beyond this administration and truly becomes the cornerstone of U.S. global development policy.

Media Spotlight: Reaction to Shah’s Speech

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
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Our partners at Devex posted a comprehensive summary of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s speech delivered yesterday at an event hosted by MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development. Editor Rolf Rosenkranz provides a thorough overview of Shah’s key messages, particularly around USAID’s new evaluation policy and it’s position towards contractors and implementers. Quoted in the piece is MFAN’s Co-Chair and President of Bread for the World David Beckmann, as well as MFAN Partner Oxfam America. See below for excerpts:

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah on Thursday (Jan. 19) unveiled several new procurement reform initiatives – some of them effective immediately – that are meant to boost the monitoring and evaluation of field projects and more closely scrutinize especially the government’s larger implementing partners.The move is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing quest to win public and congressional support for turning USAID, an agency that has been widely criticized for being overstretched and underfunded, into an innovative enterprise that leverages more investment from partner countries and the private sector than it relies on outside contractors and consultants.

David Beckmann, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, called Shah’s speech “extraordinary and hard-hitting” and ongoing USAID reforms “essential and timely,” urging the Obama administration to work with policymakers from both parties to draft legislation that will “enshrine this new development business model in law in order to drive long-term results.”


Shah Introduces the ‘Modern Development Enterprise’

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
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Yesterday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah delivered a powerful speech on the future of US development efforts, particularly the future of USAID. Shah made an impassioned argument for adopting a more business-like approach to development and asked that the broader community join him in his efforts to reform. Below are excerpts from his speech that capture his overarching message:

Rajiv_Shah“Earlier this year, we instituted a series of reforms we now call USAID Forward. Thanks to those reforms, our agency is fundamentally changing, becoming more efficient, more effective and more businesslike, freeing our talented staff to achieve great results.”

“We’ve embarked on this effort to transform how development is delivered because development is not and cannot be a sideshow. As the president and the secretaries of state, Treasury and defense have all made abundantly clear, development is as critical to our economic prospects and our national security as diplomacy and defense.”

“That’s why our reforms are not simply trying to update the traditional version of an aid agency. Instead, we are seeking to build something greater: a modern development enterprise.”

“Like an enterprise, we’re relentlessly focused on delivering results and learning from success and failure. Remember, USAID used to be the world leader in development evaluation, creating many of the standards that are currently employed throughout the development community. But we’ve fallen far from that world-class distinction.”

“Today, I’m announcing a new evaluation policy that I believe will set a new standard in our field. By aggressively measuring and learning from our results, we will extend the impact of our ideas and of knowledge we helped generate. Every major project will require a performance evaluation conducted by independent third parties, not by the implementing partners themselves. Instead of simply reporting our results like nearly all aid agencies do, we will collect baseline data and employ study designs that explain what would have happened without our interventions so we can know for sure the impact of our programs. And in the spirit of the extreme transparency I promised when I joined USAID, we will release the results of all of our evaluations within three months of their completion, whether they tell a story of success or failure. We’re going to integrate this project evaluation data into our dashboard.”

“Like an enterprise, we’re focused on delivering the highest possible value for our shareholders. In this case, the American people and the congressional leaders who represent them. We will deliver that value by scaling back our footprint to shift resources to critical regions, rationalizing our operations and vigilantly fighting fraud, waste and abuse.”


MFAN Statement: USAID Administrator’s Tough Speech Heralds New Development Business Model

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
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Raj Shah

MFAN Statement: USAID Administrator’s Tough Speech Heralds New Development Business Model

January 19, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chair David Beckmann:

In an extraordinary and hard-hitting speech today, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Raj Shah laid out the clear progress that is being made in changing the U.S. approach to development and reforming his agency, which has been a target of strong criticism in recent years.  The reform agenda is essential and timely, because helping struggling people build livelihoods and escape poverty has never been more critical to our success in battling extremism, opening new markets for U.S. products, and strengthening America’s allies around the world.

Administrator Shah’s message was unmistakable: America needs to take a more business-like approach to development, and everyone involved in the enterprise must be more focused on results and hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability.  While emphasizing that development “is as critical to our economic prospects and our national security as diplomacy and defense,” he explained that these reforms “are not trying to build an updated version of a traditional aid agency… we are seeking to build something greater: a modern development enterprise.”

He hammered home this message and echoed President Obama’s vision for development with perhaps the most important idea in the speech: that over time, our foreign assistance will create “efficient local governments, thriving civil societies and vibrant private sectors,” thereby making countries more accountable to their citizens while helping them “graduate” from U.S. assistance.  Administrator Shah also helped put the issue in context for the American people, noting that our long-term competiveness and global leadership is contingent on how well we reach and sell products to the world’s fastest growing economies in places like Africa.  Development is a key ingredient to helping these markets stabilize and grow, when used effectively in tandem with diplomacy and trade, among other things.

We were pleased that Administrator Shah did more than simply reiterate a vision in his speech; he actually detailed the steps that USAID will take by:

  • Making sustainable economic growth and empowered local citizens core goals across all USAID development efforts;
  • Moving to save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years by consolidating staffing, administrative, and program management activities globally;
  • Accelerating negotiations to graduate as many as seven countries from U.S. assistance by 2015;
  • Creating a new evaluation framework that will help USAID make decisions on what programs to continue, while also communicating results to the American people through the new USAID Dashboard;
  • Unveiling a new procurement system that will increase competitiveness; and
  • Establishing a new taskforce to prevent waste, fraud and corruption.

Taken together, these reforms will bring U.S. development efforts firmly into the 21st-century and help strengthen USAID as the effective leader of those efforts.  We urge Administrator Shah to remain laser-focused on this reform agenda, including by reaching out to bipartisan Members of Congress to develop legislation that will enshrine this new development business model in law in order to drive long-term results.

For additional information, please contact Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or

More Response to the New Dashboard

Friday, January 7th, 2011
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Over on the Aid Watch blog—home to notorious aid critic Bill Easterly and the official blog of New York University’s Development Research Institute (DRI)—Laura Freschi analyzes the foreign assistance dashboard. Freschi argues it will be a long time till the dashboard includes data “that actually matters to anyone tracking where the money goes and measuring its impact.” Currently, the dashboard beta version features only information from the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and only appropriated funds at that.

“Pretty charts” aside, Freschi points to an optimistic editorial that highlights the central role transparency plays in making aid more effective. Owen Barder, a member of the aid info team at Development Initiatives and a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development, points to all the recent steps taken to improve and make universal aid transparency standards. Barder writes: “It democratises aid, removing the monopoly of information and power from governments and aid professionals. It inspires innovation and informs learning. It reduces bureaucracy. It also makes it possible for communities to collaborate, for citizens to hold governments to account and for the beneficiaries of aid to speak for themselves. With a new global standard for sharing information, aid in the information age will look very different from the past.” Read the rest of his piece here.