Oxfam's briefing paper on making aid work.
Forty percent of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day. As poverty and injustice persist, so do the transnational security threats they help to generate. To tackle these threats, the US government seeks to use "smart power" that balances the hard power of the military with the soft power of US diplomatic and development efforts. But Oxfam is concerned that the drive to use smart power is not adequately focused on smart development.
Instead of getting smarter, US foreign aid is increasingly overwhelmed by short-sighted security concerns and a fixation with "results" of the wrong kind. Current US aid policies face two paradoxes:
- US foreign aid will not make the world safer for all while it remains overly focused on short-term security;
- The more that policy makers aim to control US foreign aid to make it effective, the less effective it becomes.
If the US wants to become a global leader in smart development, it must reform the legislation, organizational structure, strategy, and implementation of its foreign aid to empower effective states and active citizens to lead their own development.