Will USAID's extreme poverty agenda fall prey to 'initiative fatigue'?

Alex Thier, assistant to the administrator for policy, planning and learning at the U.S. Agency for International Development. The aid agency's long list of initiatives is causing a feeling of 'initiative fatigue' among its staff. Photo by: New America Foundation / CC BY-NC-SA

Does the U.S. Agency for International Development’s “extreme poverty agenda” amount to an entirely new initiative — or is rather a repackaging of work the agency is already doing?

“That’s a great question, and it’s one that’s asked every day in this building,” Alex Thier, USAID’s assistant to the administrator for policy, planning and learning, said at the Advisory Council for Voluntary Foreign Assistance meeting on Wednesday.

USAID is working to align its programs with President Barack Obama’s call to help eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. But some agency staff and partners are losing their patience over the administration’s ever-expanding list of development and health initiatives and the metrics that accompany them.

Officials have been trying to clarify — both internally and publicly — how the extreme poverty agenda fits in with other USAID priorities like Power Africa, food security, global health, climate change and resilience, and how they can ensure the various goals don’t take energy and resources away from each other.

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About the author

  • Igoe michael 1

    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.