Last week, the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA) held its first public meeting of the year to discuss local capacity strengthening, among other topics. Administrator Rajiv Shah told the audience of about 150 attendees that “Now is the time to get this right,” referring to the ongoing development reform effort the agency is undertaking known as USAID Forward.
USAID Forward focuses on three areas: building local sustainability and partnerships; fostering innovation; and strengthening capacity to deliver results. “Now is our opportunity and moment,” Shah said before introducing a session devoted to local capacity development.
The session was led by Liz Schrayer, executive director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition who chaired a working group charged with recommending best practices in local capacity development. Schrayer said the working group recognized both the complexity of working in developing countries and the importance of a robust civil society for sustainable capacity development in recommending the following:
- Improve capacity at both USAID and the country-level to ensure transparency, accountability and results
- Tailor local capacity building to reflect local complexities
- Strengthen collaboration and coordination with development partners
- Connect shorter-term goals with long-term outcomes
The recommendations represented major points of consensus among the working group members, as well as various publications from development experts and organizations.
Other members of the working group included David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, who stressed that USAID Forward would be “severely curtailed” if the U.S House of Representatives prevailed in the upcoming budget battles.
The HC3 project is just one example of USAID’s support for local solutions. HC3 is designed to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to design, implement and evaluate their own strategic health communication programs.
Shah said a report on USAID Forward would be issued in the coming weeks. The next ACVFA meeting is June 12.