U.S. foreign aid would have a more significant impact if it is focused on developing the capacity and local institutions of recipient countries, Oxfam America says in a new paper on the importance of capacity building.
The paper states that the U.S. tends to underutilize country systems, rely heavily on contractors, and be very supply-driven in supporting capacity-building efforts in partner countries.
The paper is part of Oxfam America’s ongoing campaign pushing for a strengthened compact between states and citizens through the use of aid. It reflects the ideas of U.S. government representatives, U.S. legislators, non-governmental organizations, think thank officials, contractors and representatives from aid-recipient countries convened by Oxfam America to discuss reforms to the way the U.S. delivers capacity-building support.
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Here are some of Oxfam America’s suggestions on how the U.S. can better support capacity-building efforts of its partner countries.
- Develop a strategy that defines why and how it will provide aid for capacity building.
- Make sure that its capacity-building priorities reflect the actual priorities of recipient countries. - Work to boost the capacity of recipient governments to respond to their citizen’s needs and the capacity of citizens of recipient countries to hold their governments accountable. - Permit and make local contracting easier. - Help recipient countries manage their budget efficiently and transparently. It should also improve its coordination with fellow donors to a particular recipient country.
Oxfam America notes that the U.S. Agency for International Development is already making strides toward improving U.S. aid for capacity building through introducing procurement reforms.
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As Devex reported, efforts to streamline USAID procurement processes and help build local capacities are part of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s five-point agenda to reform the agency.