Saturday, 22 March 2008

The future...and beyond!

People will not doubt focus on the recommendation that the US government's development functions be aligned with its other foreign policy objectives, including democratization and defence. But there is much else besides in the new HELP commission report, 'Beyond Assistance'.

In particular there is a strong and welcome focus on improving aid evaluation. Starting from the finding that the "foreign assistance system is broken" the authors repeatedly stresses that the government should "better evaluate projects based on the outcomes they achieve"; "programs must be innovative - which requires our nation accept and learn from failure...Interventions in states must be quantifiable, with numerical goals and timetables, and programs must have specific objectives, which could be measured, evaluated, and re-assessed."

Other notable recommendations include:
  • Focussing aid on America's comparative advantages (listed as agriculture, technology, small business development and education) rather than trying to tackle all aspects of poverty
  • Moving from an aid system of top-down provision to one in which programs are demand-driven
  • Working with private partners and philanthropists
  • Concentrating on programs which promote economic growth, rather than social programs

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