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US foreign assistance is a valuable tool for achieving a more stable and prosperous world. The US government spends less than 1 percent of its budget on foreign assistance. Despite this small investment, it’s one of the best value-for-money investments in support of strengthening US national security, providing new economic opportunities, and fighting extreme poverty.

As lawmakers, however, we rarely have the opportunity to raise an important caveat to this claim: US foreign assistance is most effective when provided in a manner that ensures local participation and ownership. What does this mean for the way US international assistance is implemented on the ground in developing countries? Oxfam and Save the Children believe that when development assistance efforts are driven by local citizens in collaboration with their governments, the results are more effective and enduring. The how and with whom the US partners in host countries are central to the long-term success of its international assistance.

Oxfam and Save the Children have analyzed projects cited by the MCC and USAID as successful instances of applied-ownership approaches that empowered local actors to drive their own development. We hope these examples not only highlight the value of pursuing ownership, but also provide analysis, findings and recommendations that are useful to practitioners and policymakers who want to strengthen the US’s commitment to ownership.

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