Sidebar on Local Development Leadership

Bureau of Resource Management
April 21, 2011

Photo showing a lab technician performing tests at Themba Lethu Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa for USAID partner Right to Care.

A lab technician performs tests at Themba Lethu Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa for USAID partner Right to Care. The Clinic is the largest anti-retroviral treatment site in the country. Right to Care

Building local capacity is an integral part of sustainable development. “Working through local partners is often the most cost effective and sustainable way to invest our resources,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. Dr. Shah offered the example of Senegal’s health huts, where volunteers are selected by the community and trained by USAID and the host country government. As the Administrator said, “By training local health workers and hiring local staff for project management, the program lowers overall costs while saving more lives. And it builds local capacity so that one day our aid will no longer be necessary.”

In line with the QDDR recommendation to improve local capacity development (LCD) through increased local procurement, USAID has embarked on an ambitious reform agenda. The USAID FORWARD agenda includes implementation and procurement reform that seeks to create opportunities to build local development leadership by implementing activities through reliable partner-country systems and local civil-society and private-sector entities. USAID’s current reliance on U.S.-based contractors and implementing partners often misses opportunities to build the capacity of partner countries to sustain further progress on their own. To address this challenge, USAID has established five pilot LCD teams in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Peru, and the Philippines. These teams will capitalize on USAID FORWARD’s talent management initiative in addition to the implementation and procurement reform initiative. The teams will work with each Mission to establish centers for excellence in LCD training and increase direct implementation through local civil-society and private-sector partners. In South Africa, USAID is already making significant progress. In FY 2003, a local organization, Right to Care (RTC), received $500,000 in USAID funding; by FY 2010, RTC ‘s organizational and financial capacity had increased so greatly that it was able to implement approximately $47 million in U.S. funding. By working actively with local actors and making more resources available to them as their capacity grows, USAID empowers local development leaders to take greater ownership of their countries’ future.