Two promises kept on fight against poverty, one more left to go

By Oxfam

Washington, DC — International humanitarian organization Oxfam America praised the White House and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for delivering a plan that defines the US contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. In reaction, Gregory Adams, Oxfam America Director of Aid Effectiveness, made the following statement:

“With this plan, President Obama delivers on two of his promises: to make the MDGs America’s goals, and to deliver a plan for how America will help achieve them. Now we need him to deliver on a third promise:  A policy directive to guide all US policies that affect global development—not only foreign aid, but trade rules, financial regulation, debt relief, and others. We urge the President to work with Congress to reform the laws governing US efforts to fight poverty. Congress is eager to work with the President to solve this problem, and their buy-in is essential to make reforms lasting.
“While the MDG plan demonstrates Obama’s commitment to helping poor people, it also highlights the need for an updated US toolkit that more adequately reflects 21st century realities. With one-third of the planet—2 billion people—still trapped in poverty, urgent action is needed. The reforms underway are worthy efforts, but the President has still not defined the ultimate goal of our efforts to fight global poverty.  Without clear, shared goals, how will we know what success looks like, and how can we plan to work together to achieve those goals? 

“Now is the time for the President to unravel the confusion and dysfunction of our development programs and set clear goals and priorities, making way for a strategy that truly works in partnership with poor people around the globe.

“Our new approach needs to acknowledge that we don’t 'do' development; people and countries develop themselves. That innovative approach is at the heart of the MDG plan. The plan recognizes that sustaining gains against poverty requires investing in the institutions that poor people and their governments use to achieve their own development outcomes. This approach requires us to build a new model of development that gives poor people the lead role in setting the agenda.

“This plan is also evidence of serious reforms at USAID intended to restore the agency as a creative, development thought leader. The plan was developed under the leadership of USAID and demonstrates how proactively USAID Administrator Raj Shah has moved to rebuild the agency’s ability to think strategically. The next step is for President Obama to issue his promised development policy, to empower USAID to act strategically as well.

“The MDG plan underscores transparency as a core principle of country partnership. Transparency and predictability is what permits locals to invest their own resources alongside US aid dollars. Without it, we leave a lot of resources on the table.

“We applaud President Obama’s MDG plan. We urge the President at the September summit to make an appeal to the world’s leaders that achieving the MDGs is a winnable fight, but one that cannot be done in isolation. It is a global effort and as a global community we need a policy and funding to win it.”

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