Aid Reform Background
Why is it so important to improve US foreign aid? Because aid can fuel people power, those taking action and changing the circumstances that keep them in poverty around the world.
Why care about aid reform?
From helping local farmers increase their crop production to supporting citizens and governments rebuild after a natural disaster, foreign assistance must be led and designed by the people who need it most. But our system of foreign aid delivery was built for the challenges of the 20th century and is too bureaucratic and fragmented for 21st century problems, often failing to reach poor communities. Furthermore, America’s foreign aid strategy has become increasingly driven by US military and political concerns and Washington pet initiatives, losing sight of the real objective—the actual needs of the poor.
Poverty-reducing aid, used in smart ways, can support local institutions and leaders to save lives and bring about sustainable development. Better yet, smart aid can help make other local, national, and global economic and political forces work for people who are struggling.
What we're doing
Oxfam America is advocating for effective development through proven and innovative approaches on-the-ground that strengthen country-led development practices and commit the US to providing better information, capacity, and control to responsible governments and active citizens. This approach can allow America to reap the long-term benefits of our investment by lifting millions out of poverty, making the world more secure, and bringing prosperity to millions through economic opportunity and political stability.
Oxfam is asking the Congress and the President to utilize US poverty-reducing aid to uphold the development compact between citizens and states in developing countries. They can do this by:
1) Ensuring that US poverty-reducing aid builds institutions, rather than working around them. Demand, not supply, should be the new guiding principle of our development assistance.
2) Ensuring that US foreign aid is focused on the real goal of helping countries move beyond aid and to self-sufficiency, including increased transparency of US aid and more utilization of country systems.
3) Continuing to support US aid policy reforms such as the USAID Forward, Feed the Future, and Millennium Challenge Corporation, by protecting the critical funding needed to shift to more streamlined aid practices.
In this tough political and economic environment, the US will be required to make difficult choices about its investments. And because poverty-focused aid is currently less than one percent of the US federal budget, cutting aid to developing countries will have no impact on reducing the nation’s debt, but it would threaten the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide and risk our own national security.
Whether the US fights global poverty for moral reasons or to improve its own future security, Oxfam America believes the right approach requires that the US aid portfolio effectively fights poverty for its own sake, and that the needs of people who are poor—not politics—drive US development policy and funding.