The Blind Hydra
USAID Policy Fails to Control Malaria

AEI's working paper series
Download file The full text of this paper is available here (Adobe Acrobat PDF).

Summary

Although several papers in academic journals have discussed the efficacy of individual malaria programs, and other publications have analyzed the functioning of the United States Agency for International Development, this is the first comprehensive analysis of the Agency's overall approach to malaria control. USAID is found wanting: its lack of transparency makes detailed economic assessments of performance impossible; its organizational structure and methods of information management hinder opportunities for collaboration with other donors and prevent necessary assessments of ongoing programs; it avoids accountability for program performance by deflecting responsibility onto contractors; it fails to condition funding for these contractors on relevant outcome measurements; it has influenced the construction of a system wherein the vast majority of funding for malaria either never leaves the United States or funds the employment of U.S. citizens; it ensures continued Congressional support by maintaining key beltway contractors who lobby for increased funding; it spends less than five percent of its malaria budget purchasing actual life-saving interventions; and lastly, it bases its choice of malaria interventions on extraneous political consideration, not on best practice, unnecessarily costing lives.

Based on this analysis, this paper recommends several steps to improve USAID's performance. First, it should increase the transparency of its programs and funding decisions. Such a move will instigate necessary upgrades in organization and data management, improve the Agency's capacity to work with other donors and allow external experts to contribute useful suggestions for performance improvements. Second, USAID should ensure that programs have the necessary funding and scope to achieve success--a sustainable reduction in the malaria burden--and measure their progress with appropriate interim results. At present, USAID spreads its funds too thinly to run such robust programs. By focusing on fewer countries, USAID could provide tangible results, lowering criticism of its performance and establish best practice models for other countries to follow, saving more lives. Third, where its comparative advantage lies in providing technical assistance, it should coordinate with other agencies that provide actual medical interventions (bed nets, insecticides, drugs) in order to ensure a robust effort. Lastly, it must not inhibit countries from using interventions that its staff opposes for reasons other than effectiveness in combating malaria.

If USAID cannot do take these steps, Congress should reallocate USAID's malaria budget to another agency.

Roger Bate is a resident fellow, and Benjamin Schwab a research assistant, at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Roger
Bate

What's new on AEI

Making Ryan's tax plan smarter
image The teacher evaluation confronts the future
image How to reform the US immigration system
image Inversion hysteria
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 01
    MON
  • 02
    TUE
  • 03
    WED
  • 04
    THU
  • 05
    FRI
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
From anarchy to Augustus: Lessons on dealing with disorder, from Rome’s first emperor

We invite you to join us for two panel discussions on how Augustus created order from chaos 2,000 years ago, and what makes for durable domestic and international political systems in the 21st century.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Multiple choice: Expanding opportunity through innovation in K–12 education

Please join us for a book launch event and panel discussion about how a marketplace of education options can help today's students succeed in tomorrow's economy. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the featured book.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
How conservatives can save the safety net

Please join us for a luncheon event in which our panel will discuss what conservatives can learn from how liberals talk and think about the safety net and where free-market economics, federalism, and social responsibility intersect to lift people out of poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.