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CGD Policy Blogs


Assessing Feed the Future and U.S. Leadership on Food Security

A new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs applauds U.S. government agencies for food security leadership but calls on them to up the game in the face of rising global challenges and shrinking aid budgets. While it is a positive assessment, the report highlights some areas of concern that could affect U.S. leadership in future years.

Civilian Assistance to Pakistan: Time for Tough Choices

This is a joint post with Nancy Birdsall.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah stated that the United States will be working to significantly decrease the number of development projects it is currently supporting in Pakistan, from the current 140 to 35 by the end of September 2012. In Dr. Shah’s words, “If we [the U.S.] are trying to do 140 different things, we are unlikely to do things at scale in a way that an entire country of 185 million people can see and value and appreciate. We are just far more effective and we deliver much more value to American taxpayers when we concentrate and focus and deliver results.” Shah goes on to clarify that the United States will not be cutting back on the overall amount of assistance it provides: it plans to adhere to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman framework of $7.5 billion over 5 years.

I applaud Administrator Shah’s call for greater focus in the U.S. assistance portfolio and his explicit emphasis on “results.” After all, as my colleague Connie Veillette has pointed out, the Obama Administration’s Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on global development explicitly called for greater emphasis on “selectivity” and “results” in U.S. development assistance.

DAC Data Doesn’t Tell All

Global aid flows fell by nearly 3 percent in 2011 according to a recent announcement from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The drop in development assistance is considered a result of the global recession and fiscal-tightening as governments trim expenditures to balance budgets. Altogether, aid flows fell by $3.4 billion to a total of $133 billion, the first decrease in development assistance since 1997 (disregarding years of exceptional debt relief).

Ryan Budget Out of Sync with Foreign Assistance Congressional Committees

This is a joint post with Casey Dunning.

Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Congressional budget alternative was launched last week to the dismay of the development community. The 99-page Path to Prosperity anticipates a very small role for development and diplomacy in America’s foreign policy. Both areas of the budget take heavy cuts – a near 10 percent reduction from fiscal year 2012.

The Ryan budget is already taking serious heat with its proposals to eliminate Feed the Future and merge USAID development assistance programs with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. But who didn’t see that level of contention coming? What’s really interesting is comparing the Ryan budget against Congressional reaction to recent USAID hearings with Administrator Raj Shah earlier in March. Congressmen on both sides of the aisle asked nuanced questions that demonstrated an understanding of the role of development as a part of robust U.S. foreign engagement. Moreover, Congressional leaders in both chambers were supportive of administrative efforts to reform and enhance our foreign assistance.

What’s So Different about Partnership for Growth?

“Can you help us PFG this country?” is not yet a common query heard throughout the U.S. government, but CGD had the opportunity to discover why “PFG-ing” a country could be the next phase in the evolution of U.S. development efforts.