Development Co-operation Reviews: United States 1998

The OECD Development Assistance Committee's 1998 review of the US development aid policies and programmes. It finds that after a period of declining support, the United States has in recent years worked to strengthen both political and public confidence in its foreign assistance programmes. USAID's new Strategic Plan, issued in September 1997, aims at clear results through its support of developing and transitional countries' efforts to achieve sustained economic and social progress and to share more fully in resolving global problems. An ambitious effort has been made to link the reform of aid management to clearer goals and stronger partnerships. Nevertheless, the volume of resources devoted by the United States to official development assistance has continued its downward trend. Measured as a percentage of GNP, the United States now provides the lowest amount, by far, of any Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

At its triennial review of the United States' aid policies and programmes on 6 April 1998, the DAC welcomed the measures that have been taken and looked forward to the full impact of the reforms and initiatives that have been launched. After serious international concern over recent years about diminishing funding and staffing in the United States programme, there are welcome first indications of strengthening budgets for aid to developing countries, confirmed by President Clinton's recent commitment to seek to increase the budget for African aid to its historically high levels.

It is important that the United States pursue pro-development policies on a broad range of issues. Thus, the review gives special attention to the work of USAID in the areas of democracy, participation, governance, dealing with conflict and disasters, as well as the Transition Initiative, set up to help the United States respond to the needs falling between relief and development. Trade policy is also highlighted, as are the United States' multilateral contributions, and its role in promoting gender equality.

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