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WASHINGTON, DC ? International development and relief agency Oxfam America today welcomed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Christopher Shays (R-CT) and John Tierney (D-MA). The agency said the resolution, which would commit the House of Representatives to fundamental US foreign aid reform, is an important step to strengthen America?s efforts to fight global poverty.
?Oxfam applauds Representatives McCollum, Shays and Tierney for increasing the momentum that?s out there right now for US foreign aid reform,? said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. ?More members of the House should join them to become leaders on foreign aid reform and advocate for the resolution?s quick passage by the House of Representatives. The American people are ready to support them on this.?
The resolution reflects the consensus recommendations of the U.S. foreign policy community, congressionally mandated commissions, development experts and think tanks. And most importantly, it proposes a fresh new vision for America?s foreign aid?a positive and pragmatic re-engagement with our increasingly interconnected world.
US foreign aid has saved millions of lives and helped millions more overcome poverty. Yet, aid often fails to reach the people who need it most?the two and half billion people who survive on less than two dollars a day. American aid has become slow, bureaucratic, and fragmented. Built almost fifty years ago in response to the Cold War, the US foreign aid system needs to be reformed to make it more efficient, more modern, and more focused on ending global poverty.
?When President Kennedy laid out his vision for US foreign aid in his 1961 inaugural address, he painted a vision of American leadership based on our values. Americans have a fundamental interest in supporting the efforts of poor people and governments to escape poverty,? said Offenheiser. ?Without wholesale foreign aid reform, America will lack the tools it needs to lead the fight for a safer world for everyone. Like 1961, this is another once-in-a-generation opportunity, and Representatives McCollum, Shays and Tierney are seizing this mantle.?
Numerous governments have told Oxfam that while they appreciate American generosity, US foreign aid creates more headaches for them than aid from any other donor. While Oxfam America does not accept US funding, other agencies that do have told Oxfam that U.S. foreign aid is the most burdensome to administer.
?The US foreign aid system needs to end business as usual and focus on Smart Development,? said Offenheiser. ?Smart Development means Washington will need to put poor countries and poor people in control of their own future?it will need to engage in true partnerships and cede a measure of control. This won?t come easily for Washington, but it will mean the difference between investment and charity?success and failure.?
Oxfam America recently released Smart Development: Why US Foreign Aid Demands Major Reform. In it, the agency outlines its approach to Smart Development including implementing development in the context of the other forces at work in various societies, helping states govern effectively, creating markets that function fairly and working with poor people to achieve the basic tools to generate their own wealth over time.