Studies, Reviews and Research

Tracking USAID’s Efforts on the Local Solutions Initiative: A Review of select procurements in six countries efforts on the local solutions initiative

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Save the Children US

In 2010, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a reform agenda called USAID Forward, aimed at “embracing new partnerships, investing in the catalytic role of innovation and demanding a relentless focus on results.” USAID Forward spurred various interrelated initiatives within the agency, including some specifically dealing with aid effectiveness to help the U.S. Government fulfill its commitments to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness as well as subsequent agreements in Accra, Busan, and Mexico. These include, but are not limited to, the Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCS), Local Solutions initiative (formerly known as Implementation and Procurement Reform or IPR) and the 2011–2015 USAID Policy Framework.

After four years of implementation, the agency and international aid community are beginning to examine the results of USAID Forward. USAID issued progress reports in 2012 and 2013 that cover all the reforms under this agenda. Included in the reports was progress made on the Local Solutions initiative, which aims to strengthen partner-country capacity to implement programs, enhance and promote country ownership, and increase sustainability. However, because progress reporting on Local Solutions relies on only one indicator – percentage of USAID Mission funding obligated to local institutions – trends in the other key areas of country ownership, capacity building, and sustainability are very difficult to assess. A recent study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in April 2014 also examined the progress of USAID’s implementation of the Local Solutions initiative. Using the single indicator, the GAO assessed the extent to which USAID had demonstrated progress toward achieving its 30 percent target of Mission direct funding to local institutions by 2015. In addition, it tracked progress on the three aforementioned goals. The GAO recommended that the USAID Administrator “identify additional indicators to better capture progress toward the Local Solutions initiative’s goals.”

Since 2008, Save the Children has advocated for more effective U.S. foreign assistance, and, similarly to the GAO, sees an opportunity for USAID to adopt additional indicators that will allow its Missions to better evaluate the breadth and depth of their Local Solutions initiative-related interventions. The goal of promoting country ownership is central to USAID’s efforts to help developing countries assume full responsibility for their own development in the long run.

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