The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

“A shoe company exec, a human rights activist, and an aid nerd walk into a government building…”

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Sounds like the start of a really lame joke, right? In fact, it’s a clue to the breadth of the coalition that wants the US to invest more aid dollars directly in the success of local governments, community groups, and businesses in poor countries. Yesterday this broad coalition of activists, companies, NGOs, and think tanks […]

Sounds like the start of a really lame joke, right? In fact, it’s a clue to the breadth of the coalition that wants the US to invest more aid dollars directly in the success of local governments, community groups, and businesses in poor countries. Yesterday this broad coalition of activists, companies, NGOs, and think tanks wrote to USAID Administrator Raj Shah to support USAID’s efforts to put more development dollars directly in the hands of the leaders and activists who are trying to change their countries from the ground up.

Over the last several years, we’ve had the privilege to work with many of these leaders to get the US government to change the way it gives aid—to put poor people and their leaders in the driver’s seat. Some are local entrepreneurs who think aid should do a better job of helping firms in poor countries create jobs and opportunity. Some are human rights lawyers and anti-corruption whistleblowers who want the US to fund reforms in their governments to improve respect for rights and the rule of law. And some are US firmslike Nike—who know that there are huge opportunities for American businesses if we can help poor countries lead their own development.

With her successful fish farm, Kim Nay Heang is a leading entrepreneur in her village of Kampong Preh, Cambodia. USAID support for mending value chains is transforming livelihoods for villagers and providing growth opportunities for women. Omar Ortez/Oxfam America.

These leaders are all voicing their support for USAID’s Implementation Procurement Reform (IPR)—a package of reforms meant to direct more aid to where it can do the most good, strengthening citizens and governments in the fight against poverty. And by implementing the reforms at the institutional level, we can effectively fight corruption and ensure that aid reaches those who need it most.

But don’t take our word for it—take the word of the heroes who are fighting to make their countries and communities more just and less poor. USAID’s reforms make sure that US aid dollars are working best to support these brave men and women on the front lines of the fight against poverty and injustice.

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