Upholding the Bipartisan Consensus on Development
ACDI/VOCA's Kenya Maize Development Program nearly tripled maize yields for small-scale farmers in Kenya, about a third of whom are women. New technologies like improved seeds helped farmers realize these gains. Photo by ACDI/VOCA.
Ambassador Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS coordinator, writes that a battle is brewing in Congress over whether or not to uphold an existing bipartisan consensus on health and development. At issue is U.S. support for self-sufficiency programs in developing countries, setting the goal for those countries to take primary responsibility for their citizens’ health and well-being.
Fortunately, the brewing battle is not between Republications and Democrats.
“The reason for the strong bipartisan agreement is rather simple: it’s the right thing to do for the American taxpayer to save and lift up more lives with the highest return on investment—and that, in turn, is good for our national economy and security,” writes Ambassador Dybul in a recent op-ed in The Hill.
Those who favor this consensus argue that local organizations are closer to the ground and, thus, can accomplish more with less money. The days of paternalistic development are over, say supporters; developing countries no longer welcome support run by foreign governments or development institutions.
Those who are against increased support to self-sufficiency programs often cite corruption as an issue. They also argue that local organizations cannot manage large, complex development projects.
“A change in mindset is needed," writes Ambassador Dybul, a leader of the Consensus on Development Reform (a project of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network). “U.S.-based organizations should begin to shift from being primary implementers of programs to agents of technical support and exchange.”
The result of this battle will affect two major programs, in particular, for which Bread for the World activists advocated—and which they continue to support: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Both were started by Republicans and continue to be supported by Democrats. Such programs are keys to our efforts to modernize U.S. foreign aid.
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