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Opinion: Beyond Aid — 7 Steps To Responsible Transition (Devex)
February 23, 2018
From the article:
The goal of foreign assistance should be to create the conditions under which it is no longer necessary — a compelling vision articulated by USAID Administrator Mark Green. Yet the specifics of how and when to end U.S. development programs in a country is one of the most fundamental questions for the White House and Congress, as well as the development community. Together we must chart a responsible path for transitioning countries from aid beneficiaries to broader strategic trade and security partners with the United States.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and over 100 international development nonprofits, faith-based organizations, businesses, and prominent experts have endorsed the following seven clear principles as a guide to achieving this ultimate goal. These seven principles also include useful lessons learned from USAID’s past transitions in practice, noting successes to build on and pitfalls to avoid.
1. Advance country ownership
When USAID closed its mission in Panama in 2012 after a process of consultation with the host country, the first lady of Panama remarked that the “transition, jointly planned and agreed to at high levels,” was a “reflection of progress we have made” together. Like good development programs, good transitions don’t just deliver results; they align with local priorities and strengthen local civil society, government, and private sector capacity to sustain them. Transition planning and implementation should be a joint exercise with partner countries and coordinated with Congress, U.S. agencies, and donor organizations.
2. Determine transition readiness by development progress
Responsible transitions cannot be based on arbitrary budget targets and timelines. When considering transition readiness, the first place to look is at national and subnational indications of development progress: Is the country fostering inclusive economic growth, governing capably, and protecting human rights at the national and local levels? For all groups of people? For example, although Panama had achieved significant development progress in the 2000s, for several years prior to USAID’s mission closure, USAID-funded programs specifically focused on government and civil society capacity-building to help the country sustain gains post-transition. As experts at the Center for Global Development recently noted, development indicators won’t automatically determine transition, but they can indicate that it is time to talk about what’s next.