Taking USAID's 'local solutions' beyond 30 percent

A community holds a discussion about improvements to their primary school, which was built with the help of U.S. Agency for International Development and local implementing partner Relief Society of Tigray in Ethiopia. The aid agency aims to direct 30 percent of its funding to “local solutions.” Photo by: Nena Terrell / USAID / CC BY-NC

The U.S. Agency for International Development plans to incorporate more “ex-post” evaluations into its program cycle and take steps to change the calculus around risk so field staff have more “latitude” to invest in local systems, according to the agency’s policy planning leadership.

USAID unveiled this week a new policy document — “Local systems: A framework for supporting sustained development” — after six months of public consultation to solicit feedback on how the agency can embed “local systems thinking” into every stage of its program cycle, from policy to project design to implementation to evaluation and learning.

Alex Thier, USAID assistant to the administrator in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning, told Devex the framework is meant to help answer the question: “How do we think about the entirety of our development budget as being one that fundamentally supports the development and strengthening of local systems?”

More “ex-post” evaluations — which are meant to determine the impact of a project after it is completed, sometimes years later — and a new risk tolerance mindset among agency staff are needed to design and implement projects according to this framework, Thier and other USAID officials involved in the effort suggested.

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About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.