February 7, 2022 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels, and Tessie San Martin.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) commends USAID for its draft Local Capacity Development (LCD) Policy, released for public comment on Dec. 8, 2021. The LCD Policy represents an important step towards demand-driven, long-term capacity strengthening for local actors, and moves USAID beyond the compliance-based focus that had characterized past efforts. The policy’s principles of “starting with the local system” and “aligning capacity development with local priorities” signal a significant and appropriate shift in USAID’s capacity strengthening approach.
Tessie San Martin, MFAN Co-Chair and CEO of FHI 360, noted, “We appreciate the dedication of the policy drafting team to the principles of locally led development (LLD), building on past efforts of USAID. This policy will be integral for Administrator Power’s localization agenda, such as more funding to and programming with local actors.”
Moreover, MFAN acknowledges the importance of this policy for systems-level strengthening of local civil society. “MFAN has long been calling for an Agency-wide Civil Society Strategy for USAID to support vibrant civil society. The LCD Policy will provide a systematic way for USAID to help grow local organizations, especially those that have been historically discriminated against,” said Larry Nowels, MFAN Co-Chair. MFAN encourages USAID to continue to consult civil society actors – both in the US and around the world – as it develops implementation guidance for the policy.
MFAN also greatly appreciates USAID’s effort to hold stakeholder consultations and feedback opportunities for local actors, as well as the extended window for public comment. Lester Munson, MFAN Co-Chair and Principal at the BGR Group, reflected that, “Especially for a policy that will have so much impact on local partners, sufficient local engagement is a crucial step to make sure that the new policy will suitably address their needs.” MFAN encourages USAID to continue the intentional and systematic inclusion of diverse local stakeholders in all new policy development.
MFAN was pleased to see that the LCD Policy includes an important section on “Institutionalizing Change.” This is critical for ensuring the policy makes meaningful differences in USAID’s approach to capacity strengthening. Tessie San Martin adds, “We hope that USAID will create an even more detailed implementation and change management plan that considers the substantive operational and cultural shifts within USAID needed to ensure this policy’s success.”