Beginning Feb. 6, U.S. aid-recipient countries no longer need to jump through hoops to procure goods and resources outside the United States.
After a yearlong public consultation, the U.S. Agency for International Development will implement a new rule regarding buying goods it needs in the field: The agency can now purchase items from recipient countries and other low-income countries that offer more competitive prices.
This new rule, according to Porter McConnell, Oxfam America’s policy and advocacy manager for aid effectiveness, will make a big difference, say, in a small business in Kenya that gets a USAID contract. The business can hire more Kenyans, who then can earn enough to send their kids to schools, without depending on U.S. aid.
McConnell said buying “American” is not always a good thing. She said if “it’s ten times as expensive and takes months to get there, it’s probably not the best use of taxpayer dollars, especially when delay could cost peoples’ lives.”
The rule is part of an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act the U.S. Congress approved in 1993. This, however, is not a step toward the untying of aid, which rests upon Congress.
Find USAID projects & tenders. Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.