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Strategic framework for Africa


24 February 2006

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Executive summary

USAID’s Strategic Framework for Africa is built on the new thinking about the role of foreign assistance that has developed since the millennium began. It reflects USAID’s multiple goals in development, relief and recovery and advancing U.S. national security. The Strategic Framework for Africa introduces two strategic reforms to increase the effectiveness of bilateral foreign aid. The first is to reward low-income countries that show good commitment and performance by giving them priority in the budget. The second is to recognize that some countries need help to overcome instability and weak governance before they are able to grow and prosper. The Strategic Framework for Africa will guide USAID’s launch of this new and different strategy for promoting stability, security, reform and basic institutional capacity development in African countries.

The Strategic Framework for Africa follows directly from the joint objectives laid out in the State Department–USAID Strategic Plan and acknowledges that scarce aid resources should be invested based on three notions: humanitarian need, the foreign policy interests of the United States and the commitment of a country and its leadership to reform. It places U.S. strategic and foreign policy interests front and center, in keeping with USG recognition that U.S. development assistance is one of the three pillars of the United States Government National Security Strategy.

In addition, the strategic framework relies on the new paradigm for foreign aid as laid out in the Agency Policy Framework for Bilateral Foreign Aid formerly known as the White Paper.1 The distinction between “transformational development” (countries that are reasonably stable where foreign aid can, to varying degrees, support development progress) and “fragile states” (countries that are vulnerable to crisis, in crisis or emerging from crisis and that either cannot assure, will not assure, or demonstrate a growing inability to assure the provision of basic services and security) is perhaps more important for Africa than for any other region. Africa has more “top performing” transformational developmental states and more fragile states than any other region (using performance criteria laid out in the policy framework); and in Africa, many of the transformational development countries have important vulnerabilities that, without vigilance, could cause them to slide into fragility.

Lastly, it calls for a more directive role from USAID/Washington to ensure that funds are allocated to those countries with the greatest likelihood of realizing a significant impact. For its part, Washington will align its staffing, operating expense and programmatic resources to assist recipient Missions to achieve that impact.

USAID’s medium-term goal for transformational development countries in Africa is for an increase in the number of African countries moving towards middle income status, with improved standards of living, quality of life and participatory governance over a 10- to 15-year period. This is to be achieved by two operational goals for which progress can be achieved within a three- to five-year period that are, in turn, supported by sectoral program areas in economic growth, democracy and governance, agriculture, environment, education, health, urbanization and youth. However, cross-sectoral and multi-sectoral approaches may also be employed, as appropriate, in transformational development countries. These operational goals speak to both the people side and the institutional side of development:

  1. Foster a healthier, better educated and more productive population; and

  2. Increase the effectiveness of African institutions in promoting a vibrant private sector and democratic governance.
USAID’s medium-term goal for fragile states is that democratic practice, non-violent resolution of conflict and equitable economic recovery will increase security and political, economic and social stability in sub-Saharan African countries vulnerable to, in and emerging from crisis. Operational goals are necessarily of shorter duration (one to three years) than those in transformational development countries to ensure that programs are responsive and nimble in the context of rapidly changing and unpredictable circumstances:

  1. Avert and resolve conflict; and

  2. Manage crises and promote stability, recovery and democratic reform.
Separate sectoral program areas have not been established for fragile states because activities in all sectors must be directed in an integrated fashion to the overarching goals of conflict aversion and resolution, stabilization, recovery and reform. All sector-based activity will be coordinated to achieve these goals.

All country and regional strategies in Africa will consider and address as appropriate certain key issues of critical importance throughout the continent: counter-terrorism and the implications of extractive industries; as well as critical cross-cutting issues of governance, gender, the impact of HIV/AIDS, urbanization and youth. Strategy statements will also address which objectives are best addressed by regional and bilateral programs, and how country and regional missions will collaborate to achieve shared objectives.

Priorities for funding will be based on the following principles:

  • Strategic or foreign policy importance of the country; global issues and special concerns; presence of MCA funding or eligibility for MCA funds; country-specific earmarks, directives and initiatives; and humanitarian needs will be considered first.

  • Goals best achieved through regional programming will then be identified.

  • Next, country priority will be determined based upon assessment of potential contribution that assistance is likely to have on applicable transformational development or fragile states goals. In transformational development countries, sectoral priorities will be based on sectoral assessments described in Annex 1. In fragile states, goals and objectives will be determined based on the sources of fragility as identified in a fragility assessment.

  • In a limited number of cases, a country may be designated primarily transformational development but also have significant elements of fragility and will need to address one or more fragile states goals in addition to its transformational development goals.
In implementing the framework, country and regional Missions should strive to use indigenous expertise to the greatest extent feasible, should seek to improve donor harmonization and coordination and should attempt to leverage private sector and other donor resources through such mechanisms as the Global Development Alliance (GDA). In addition, their programs should reflect USAID’s strong support of the development goals of the Millennium Declaration, particularly cutting poverty and hunger in half, ensuring that every boy and girl in Africa has access to primary education and halting the spread of AIDS—all by 2015. For its part, USAID/Washington will use a transparent process to allocate operating expenses and human resources equitably in the field and in Washington, will expand regional platforms to enable them to provide services more efficiently and knowledgeably to field missions, will adjust Washington-based operations to improve support to the field and will maintain close consultations with colleagues in State Department, National Security Council (NSC) and other USG and multilateral agencies to foster cooperation and understanding of our joint goals.

  1. U.S. Foreign Aid: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century, March 2004

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