In 2011, USAID put out a number of new policy statements to provide strategies for each of its core areas of focus. These are all good signs that the agency’s Policy, Planning and Learning Bureau is thinking hard about how to effectively implement principles in the PPD and QDDR. They are also good tools for those of us on the outside to judge and nudge the administration to follow through with its stated objectives and strategies.
Here are the strategies already released and the list of those yet to come:
USAID's Global Health Strategic Framework (April 2012)
Informed by the principles of the PPD, QDDR, and USAID Policy Framework 2011-2015, the Global Health Strategic Framework sets the direction of USAID’s global health sector for fiscal years 2012-2016. The strategy also incorporates the principles of the Global Health Initiative, emphasizing a “whole-of-government approach” that encourages cooperation and coordination between US agencies involved in global health—though it falls short of discussing USAID’s leadership role within this arrangement. In the context of a rapidly changing global health environment, the report outlines five health priorities to address the major challenges of the day. Importantly, the Agency’s goals go beyond direct provision and treatment to include strengthening recipient country health systems so they can better manage their own health needs. The framework also identifies key approaches for achieving each goal, partners for interagency collaboration, and concrete targets for measuring success.
Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy (March 2012)
The Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy was designed to provide guidance on pursuing more effective and evidence-based investments in gender equality and female empowerment, and to incorporate these efforts into the Agency’s core development programming. The goal of the policy is to advance equality between females and males, empowering women and girls to participate fully in and benefit from the development of their societies. To reach this goal, USAID investments are aimed at three overarching outcomes: reducing gender disparities in access to, control over, and benefit from resources, opportunities, and services – economic, social, political, and cultural; reducing gender-based violence; and increasing women’s and girls’ capacity to realize their rights, determine their lives, and influence decision-making in households, communities, and societies. Seven guiding principles underpin the policy, reflecting key features of USAID’s Policy Framework 2001-2015, and the parameter of the USAID Forward reform agenda. The policy also includes detailed descriptions of organizational roles and responsibilities to institutionalize it in USAID missions, bureaus, and offices in Washington and the field.
Counter Trafficking In Persons Policy (February 2012)
Led by the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA), the 2012 Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy seeks to enable the Agency to be a catalytic partner in the counter-trafficking community by outlining concrete, measurable principles and objectives. These include integrating counter-trafficking activities across the development sectors, improving program design to capture lessons learned and best practices in counter-trafficking activities, and enhancing institutional accountability within USAID to address trafficking through training of staff and coordination with partners. The Policy is guided by seven principles consistent with USAID’s Policy Framework, 2011-2015 including Agency-wide standards such as employing USAID’s comparative advantage, measuring impacts, and applying selectivity and focus to projects, programs, and areas of impact. DCHA will lead the implementation of the Policy in partnership with the Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning (PPL). These Bureaus will work in collaboration with USAID Missions and operating units in Washington that currently have or plan to program funds to combat trafficking.
Climate Change and Development Strategy (January 2012)
USAID’s Climate Change and Development Strategy sets out to confront climate change as one of the greatest challenges of our generation, for both developing countries and the US The strategy is part of the broader Presidential Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) and is guided by Administration policy as developed in the President’s Global Development Policy, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, USAID Forward, and the GCCI. The goal of USAID’s 2012-2016 Climate Change Strategy is to enable countries to accelerate their transition to climate-resilient, low emission, sustainable economic development. To accomplish this, the report commits USAID to developing dedicated programming that tackles the unique risks and opportunities presented by climate change and to integrating climate resilience into the Agency’s entire development portfolio. The report is also the first USAID strategy to acknowledge the budget-constrained environment and commits the Agency to focusing and concentrating resources on select countries to maximize impact. It provides three criteria to help prioritize its spending and a roadmap for implementation identifying priority countries for investment.
Policy Framework, 2011-2015 (September 2011)
USAID’s Policy Framework presents an overarching strategy for achieving seven select development agency objectives – from increasing food security to promoting sustainable, broad-based economic growth. The report explains that these goals must be achieved within the context of a changing development landscape which presents new challenges and opportunities. USAID will apply a set of operational principles across its entire portfolio to better measure and achieve results. These are derived from principles articulated in the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6), the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), and the US Government’s Strategy for Meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). USAID will focus on applying these principles more systematically and with greater discipline and analytical rigor across the agency. Simultaneously, USAID will continue to work to transform itself through the USAID Forward initiative into a modern development enterprise and to live up to President Obama’s commitment to make it “the world’s premier development agency.”
The Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency (September 2011)
The Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency policy report is the first of its kind for USAID. Written in response to calls for a more development-centered approach to dealing with post-conflict zones and terrorist hotbeds, the paper provides a policy framework to improve the effectiveness of USAID’s development tools and interagency collaboration in this arena. The policy sets out to define the problem: those factors, or drivers, that can favor the rise of violent extremism or radicalization of individuals. It also identifies what USAID has learned strategically and programmatically about the role of development assistance in countering these drivers. As requested in the QDDR, the report identifies ways for the agency to help enhance civilian power to amplify the voice of development within the US government in the counterterrorism arena. It also emphasizes the distinct role the development discipline can play in addressing national security challenges.
Education Strategy: Opportunity Through Learning (February 2011)
The Education Strategy report was commissioned in late 2010 to ensure that USAID’s global education investments would be informed by recent presidential policy guidance; grounded in the most current evidence-based analysis of educational effectiveness; and aimed at maximizing the impact and sustainability of development results. The report emphasizes the importance of education as the foundation of human development and as a catalyst of broad-based economic growth and democratic governance. The report states that USAID will embrace the President’s 2010 US Global Development Policy principles by investing education resources strategically to achieve sustainable educational outcomes through enhanced selectivity, focus, country-led programming, division of labor, and innovation. Additionally, the agency will apply priorities such as improved evaluation practices, gender integration, and sustainability to all of its investments. The strategy also provides three specific global education goals and measures of success as well as a “roadmap for implementation” with more detailed guidance for field missions on how to work towards achieving these objectives.
Evaluation Policy: Learning from Experience (January 2011)
USAID has historically been a world leader in evaluation and analysis of the effectiveness of aid approaches. But deep budget cuts in the 1990s reduced the capacity of the organization to self-monitor, causing a decline in the quantity and quality of evaluations. Moreover, development stakeholders today are demanding greater transparency in decision-making and disclosure of information. The launch of this new evaluation policy framework indicates a recommitment by USAID to conduct more rigorous evaluations of its program resources. This policy report is intended to clarify the purposes of evaluations – to produce more accountability and to spur learning from programs. It illustrates a list of required and recommended practices as well as the best approaches for gathering and disseminating information from evaluations. The report is meant to guide USAID-managed project implementers, implementing partners, and key stakeholders.
Planned Strategies for the Coming Year:
- Sustainable Services in a Rapidly Urbanizing World (strategies to be launched by the end of the year)
- Broad-Based Economic Growth (strategies to be launched by the end of the year)
- Donor Engagement Policy (in process)
- Democracy, Rights, and Governance (strategies to be launched by the end of the year)
- Youth Policy (in process)