Making US development aid better, from the outside in

A set of new reforms will ensure that foreign assistance from US agencies more effective and efficient. Mercia and her daughter Eliza from Mozambique, drink clean water from a well funded by the MCC.

A coalition that we’re a part of, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), has announced some big news this week: They want to make sure that US foreign assistance is getting the biggest bang for its poverty-fighting buck – and the way to do that is make US development aid better from the outside in.

Their reform agenda, which was announced this week in the report The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyondhas two big goals: make sure that US assistance helps to strengthen the systems in developing countries to make them more self-sufficient (country ownership); and improve the transparency of US assistance so that citizens can hold governments accountable for the results they achieve (accountability). 

These reforms will ensure that US development will be more effective and more efficient, ensuring that the money we spend to fight global poverty is making developing countries’ systems more sustainable, and governments, both here and abroad, more accountable. 

However, the momentum around accountability and country ownership will have to be harnessed and multiplied if continued progress is to be made, and The Way Forward makes specific recommendations for how to do just that. Here’s a couple of examples:

- All US government agencies that implement foreign assistance, like USAID, PEPFAR, the State Department and MCC, should score a “Very Good” or “Good” rating on the Aid Transparency Index, a ranking of development agencies based on their transparency.

- These US agencies should make sure the data they provide is high quality, machine-readable, and usable, so that all citizens can access the information.

ONE will continue to support MFAN in this new chapter, pushing for reforms that help meet the goals that will improve the accountability of US assistance and help developing countries build strong institutions, so that they can someday take charge of their own development.

Read more about MFAN’s new strategy here and join the discussion on Twitter with #TheWayForward.