Oxfam America Urges Better US Aid for Capacity Building

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.

>> In Reforming US Aid, Oxfam Pushes for Transparency, Predictability

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.

>> USAID Contracting Reforms Slated for June, Shah Tells Congress

>> USAID Vision Takes Shape as Shah Outlines Reforms

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.

About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.