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Posts Tagged ‘QDDR’

MFAN Statement: Development Must Play a Larger Role in QDDR Legislation

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:

MFAN applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for taking the first step toward enshrining the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) into law through the passage of S. 3341. However, we remain concerned that the QDDR, while a valuable exercise in determining the scope and trajectory of U.S. diplomacy and development efforts, fails to give the USAID Administrator a clearly defined leadership role in shaping the development portfolio. We understand that the Secretary has the ultimate authority over the QDDR, but failing to give a co-equal voice to what the President Policy Directive on Global Development refers to as “the U.S. government’s lead development agency” will undermine the goals set forth in the bill and walk back any gains made in elevating the role of development.

In its first iteration released in December 2010, the QDDR strengthened development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy; put development experts in the lead of marquee Obama Administration initiatives; sought to improve monitoring, evaluation, and transparency; and emphasized country ownership as a cornerstone of the U.S. approach to development. Critically, the USAID Administrator served as a co-chair of the review, ensuring that development concerns would have a voice in the dialogue shaping U.S. policy. The Administrator’s absence from S. 3341 sets a troubling precedent for future reviews.

Specifically, MFAN calls for:

  • USAID Administrator to serve as co-chair for the process;
  • The State Department and USAID to consult with other relevant development agencies to ensure a comprehensive assessment of USG development policy; and
  • A joint State-USAID office for the QDDR, rather than an office solely at State to reflect both components of the review.

While S. 3341 rightly seeks to codify a review of U.S. diplomacy and development programs every four years, the lack of emphasis on a strong and independent development voice implies backsliding in our prioritization of U.S. development efforts. The QDDR’s important assertion that “diplomacy and development must be mutually reinforcing” is not well served by the legislation in its current form.

 

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
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Tuesday, March 8 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, but MFAN Partner Women Thrive Worldwide is drawing attention to the importance of women’s empowerment a few days early. Tomorrow morning they will have their 3rd annual International Women’s Day breakfast as the community takes stock of the progress made in agricultural development and food security and explores important questions for charting a path forward for gender equality. Just five days later Women Thrive Worldwide will be partnering with MFAN and American Jewish World Service to host a discussion on “Forging the Path to Effective Development: Getting Gender Policy Right”. For details about the event, see below. Be sure to visit ModernizeAid later this week and next for more highlights on International Women’s Day and what our partners are doing to mark the occasion.

Forging the Path to Effective Development: Getting Gender Policy Right

With Keynote Remarks By:

Deputy Administrator Donald K. Steinberg

U.S. Agency for International Development

Who Will Join a Panel With:

Ruth Messinger and Ritu Sharma

Presidents of American Jewish World Service and Women Thrive Worldwide

Moderated by

Dee Dee Myers

Political Analyst and Commentator

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8:30a.m.-10:00a.m.

Reserve Officers Association Building, Minuteman Ballroom A

One Constitution Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC

To RSVP for this event, please e-mail rsvp-dc@ajws.org.

The first government-wide global development policy issued by the President last fall and the State Department’s recently released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) both commit the United States to consider the unique needs of women and girls, as well as men and boys, in designing U.S. diplomacy and poverty-fighting efforts around the world.  When gender is taken into account, foreign assistance can truly reach the people it is intended to benefit—so that both women and men can contribute to the growth and development of their countries. However, without a commitment to gender integration, women are usually the ones left behind; even though research shows that investments in women yield economic, health, and education benefits in lifting families and communities out of poverty.

Join us on International Women’s Day for this timely discussion with Deputy Administrator Steinberg on the importance of taking gender into account when designing development and foreign assistance programs. Hear about a new analysis and recommendations for the QDDR from Women Thrive Worldwide, as well as a new AJWS paper, entitled Empowering Girls as Agents of Change: A Human Rights-Based Approach to U.S. Development Policy.

MFAN Co-Chairs on the Facts on Foreign Aid

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
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See below for an op-ed  that ran in POLITICO today from MFAN’s Co-Chairs Rev. David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe.

David Beckmann1George Ingram1Jim Kolbe

POLITICO

The facts on foreign aid

Rev. Beckmann and George Ingram and Jim Kolbe

February 9, 2011

With Egypt leading the news and congressional budget discussions coming to a head, there is an energetic debate now about U.S. foreign assistance.

There are many competing arguments, but one thing is certain: This is too important to get caught up in the usual political back and forth. The American people deserve honest facts about foreign assistance before policymakers rush to judgment.

To start, we must correct a widely held misconception: U.S. foreign assistance is less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Despite repeated efforts to correct this, many Americans still believe we spend as much as 25 percent of the budget on it.

More important, we must stop using foreign assistance as a budget piñata. Development is now a key component of U.S. foreign policy — with defense and diplomacy. Our modest investment in strategic and effective foreign assistance programs pays outsize dividends in terms of our security, prosperity and global leadership.

  • On security: The United States Agency for International Development is a crucial partner of the U.S. military and the State Department in frontline states — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Civilian development professionals support training of security forces; bolster governance and the rule of law, and improve quality of life for people in areas vulnerable to extremism. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”
  • On economic prosperity: Our development programs improve public health, strengthen agricultural output and promote private economic growth, all of which help stabilize communities and open export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the world’s fastest growing markets. One historical example: U.S. support for the “green revolution” in agriculture helped accelerate South Korea’s agricultural development, setting it on a path to becoming the strong U.S. ally and trading partner.
  • On our global leadership: In the last decade, the generosity of U.S. taxpayers and advocacy of policymakers, community leaders and citizens have been responsible for saving and improving millions of lives in Africa and elsewhere. One vaccination program alone has saved five million children.

Even with these facts, foreign assistance still deserves the same scrutiny as other government programs at this challenging economic time. Our foreign assistance must be effective and accountable — so people know where the money is going and what results are being achieved.

Luckily, we are not starting from square one. Over the last two years, the Obama administration has built on the efforts of the Bush administration to change our development business model through a top-to-bottom reform effort.

President Barack Obama has made economic growth, the strongest engine for social progress, the stated goal of U.S. development efforts. He has promised to be more selective about who gets assistance — particularly when it comes to countries not committed to reform. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah has announced a plan to better measure and evaluate programs; “graduate” recipients who no longer need help, and streamline bureaucracy for millions of dollars in.

Most important, a guiding vision has taken hold across the spectrum of public and private players on development. Many developing countries have been able to achieve rapid economic growth and progress against poverty, mainly through their own efforts. For assistance to be effective, it needs to be responsive to local initiative and priorities.

Though a sliver of our overall budget, U.S. foreign assistance delivers a real return-on-investment. The Obama administration and Congress need to support these programs and work together to make them more effective and accountable. And the American public deserves an honest debate about the importance of our foreign assistance.

Rev. Beckmann, a 2010 World Food Prize laureate, is the president of Bread for the World. George Ingram is co-chairman of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Jim. Kolbe, a former Republican congressman from Arizona, is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a senior advisor at McLarty Associates. They are co-chairman of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

Wilson Center’s Sewell weighs in on QDDR

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
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sewell

In a recent post on the Wilson Center’s “The New Security Beat” blog, senior scholar John Sewell offers his perspective on the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released in December.

Sewell applauds the QDDR’s effort to empower the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly around giving leadership of President Obama’s signature initiatives on food security and global health to USAID.  He also highlights the internal reform agenda undertaken by the Agency, called “USAID Forward,” which places a premium on evaluation and results.

The key question for Sewell is how well will the QDDR be implemented.  He lists several challenges to effective implementation, including:

  • support from Congress (“New legislation undoubtedly will be needed. Without congressional support, it will be hard to effect all the reforms called for in both documents.”);
  • culture change at State and USAID;
  • defining the process for selecting which countries receive U.S. assistance (“So, will the choices be driven by focus areas and need? Or will immediate political issues continue to drive country choice?”);
  • budget authority (“But in the real world, there will be strong differences of opinion between State and USAID, and how they are reconciled is never mentioned.”); and
  • timeline (“Some can be put in place quickly and many are underway; others will take much longer, and some, presumably, will require new legislation…If everything is a priority, overload will result.”).

Sewell provides a recipe for achieving the impact the QDDR hopes to achieve: “If the QDDR is to succeed it must have strong administration support, a congressional group (preferably bipartisan) to craft needed legislation, and strong support from civil society organizations and business.”

What do you think of his analysis?

To read the entire piece, click here.

Showing US leadership through innovation in foreign assistance

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
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saramesserSara Messer, policy manager for aid effectiveness, at MFAN Partner ONE, recently posted a blog about the recurring themes of innovation and competitiveness in President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this week. She took the opportunity to highlight the many reforms already underway at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Below are excerpts from Messer’s recent post:

“On reform, we saw a slew of new proposals and strategies for improving US foreign assistance this past year, from the President’s Policy Directive and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, to USAID’s new FORWARD reforms. All of these aim to reorganize agencies, reduce redundancies and red tape, and focus on monitoring and evaluation of programs to guide future funding decisions.”

“But in addition to just changing the way the US government delivers assistance, real change for the developing world will likely stem from new ideas, fresh thinking and harnessing science and technology to improve lives. USAID has already started upgrading its Office of S&T and has created the Development Innovation Ventures fund that will invest in promising innovative development breakthroughs and help bring successful ventures to scale.”

“Throughout other programs, technological advances are receiving a lot of attention. In the Feed the Future initiative, the US approach to agricultural assistance includes technology innovations such as drought-tolerant crops that will increase food p5391031061_a017533761roduction and food security. And the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, with support from the US and others, recently incentivized the development of two new vaccines for two of the biggest killers of children, pneumonia and diarrhea. US support has also helped pave the way for research into new tools like microbicides for women to protect themselves against HIV.”

“At a time when government programs are on the chopping block and every dollar needs to be justified, it’s important that we support those programs that are making real reforms and changing lives for millions of people around the world. By standing with the administration to elevate our development work, America has the opportunity to showcase not just its military might, but its vision and leadership for a more prosperous world and the advancement of core US national interests.”

To read the entire post, click here.