In a recent blog post, Pakistani economist Anjum Altaf lambasted our recent report on the US development approach to Pakistan, “More Money, More Problems,” for not being sufficiently skeptical of the US development program, especially the US aid program, in Pakistan. Dr. Altaf criticized our 2011 report too. You can review last year’s discussion here.
CGD Policy Blogs
The United States’ strategy towards Africa has shifted from “how much aid” to how to attract trade and investment, said White House Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman in a major speech at the Center for Global Development this week. The standing-room only crowd seemed to welcome the emphasis on aid-plus, or more than aid approaches in Sub-Saharan Africa. CGD President Nancy Birdsall praised the administration’s “excellent vision” around the tough issues of economic growth and equal opportunity.
Last year my former colleagues Molly Kinder and Wren Elhai joined Nancy Birdsall for a listening tour in Pakistan that sought to gather input from a range of experts for CGD’s June 2011 report on the U.S. assistance program there. Last month, in support of CGD’s upcoming follow-up report on status of the program in 2012, I travelled to Pakistan for another round of discussions.
President Obama announced $3 billion in new private sector investments in agriculture in three African countries at a packed event in Washington, D.C., last Friday. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is the cornerstone of the United States' 2012 G-8 commitments to development led by USAID and administrator Rajiv Shah. There's a lot to like about the partnership: presidential leadership, a link between public and private investment, and a focus on policy change. But all eyes are on how the relatively modest investments will be implemented and whether they can reach the ambitious poverty reduction targets.
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.
The question of whether and how much aid Pakistan will receive has been a hotly contested issue in Congress this year, with some members having called for civilian assistance (authorized under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation) to be cut altogether.