By: Shuja Nawaz
What is the kernel of the issue?
American aid programs have lost their direction and purpose by becoming tied to short-term goals on a quid-pro-quo basis rather than a longer-term strategy reflecting US values.
Why is the issue important?
The world looks to America as a guiding light on aid, setting an example of effectiveness supported by transparency and accountability rather than a short-term transactional foreign policy tool.
What is the recommendation?
The Biden administration should adopt an over-the-horizon and whole-of-government approach, with USAID in the lead and bringing in the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, and other relevant agencies in a coordinated fashion, not necessarily in a security-focused agenda seeking immediate returns. The new approach should help create ownership in aid-receiving countries, governments, and civil society groups, so that the flow of aid is results-based and does not fuel corruption among the elites. It must also reflect transparency and accountability, so people know what aid is coming from America, for whom, and for what purpose. Aid flows should be in tranches based on achievement of targets mutually agreed in advance but drafted initially by recipient countries.