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US push to make its development aid more effective is paying off

 

14/12/2016 - The United States has maintained foreign aid volumes through the aftermath of the global economic crisis and has visibly improved the focus and effectiveness of its development assistance. These trends should be maintained and reforms to the U.S. Agency for International Development should be consolidated, according to a new OECD Review.

 

The latest DAC Peer Review of the United States notes that U.S. official development assistance has been steady over the last five years. U.S. ODA rose from USD 31 billion in 2011 to an all-time high of USD 33.1 billion in 2014. It slipped back to USD 31.1 billion in 2015 due in part to the timing of contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but is expected to rebound again.

 

U.S. aid amounted to 0.17% of the country’s gross national income in 2015. A full 48% of bilateral allocable U.S. ODA went to the world’s least-developed countries in 2014, which are most in need of it, well above the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 40%.

 

U.S. leadership in the aid sector has been boosted by development being elevated to a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy, underpinned by the 2010 Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development. Bi-partisan support for development in Congress is exemplified by passing of legislation in line with the Power Africa and Feed the Future initiatives.

 

At the same time, the rise in aid flows has not kept pace with the U.S. economic recovery, and while transparency has increased, more forward planning of U.S. aid would improve visibility for partner countries. The top recipients of U.S. aid are Afghanistan, Jordan, Kenya, West Bank and Gaza Strip, Pakistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan and Nigeria.

 

“As the world’s biggest aid provider, accounting for a fifth of the DAC total, the United States has great weight and plays a vital leadership role,” said DAC Chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, presenting the Review in Washington. “The current commitment to development is to be commended, and we hope the United States will maintain this level of global engagement which helps to spread stability and prosperity and makes for a more secure world for us all.”

 

The Review finds that the U.S. is routing more programme funds through local partners, as a way to increase local ownership of aid programmes. It has also developed an effective toolbox for partnering with the private sector on aid projects and is encouraging innovation in development. It recommends the U.S. continue and expand these partnership approaches.

 

The Review recommends the United States continue to work towards meeting international commitments on aid quality and effectiveness, as well as compliance with guidelines on military involvement in humanitarian aid. It recommends simplifying procedures, from procurement to reporting, to ease burdens on partners and staff.

 

Each DAC member is reviewed every five years in order to monitor its performance, hold it accountable for past commitments and recommend improvements. Reviews use input from officials in the country concerned and partner countries – Malawi and South Africa for this Review – as well as civil society and the private sector. Read more on DAC Peer Reviews.

 

The United States has fully implemented six and partially implemented 15 out of 25 recommendations made in its last Peer Review in 2011. Only four recommendations were not implemented, including one on fully untying aid to the least developed and most heavily indebted countries.

 

An embeddable version of the report is available, with information about downloadable and print versions and an interactive data visualisation of U.S. aid compared with other donors. For further information, or to speak to the report’s author, journalists are invited to contact Elvira Berrueta-Imaz in the OECD Media Office (+33 1 45 24 97 00).

 

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