METRICS MATTER How USAID counts “local” will have a big impact on funding for local partners

Tilley, A. and Jenkins. E.
Publication language
Date published
01 Mar 2023
Research, reports and studies
Local capacity, Development & humanitarian aid, Funding and donors
CARE International, Global Communities, Global Communities, Oxfam, Save the Children, FHI 360, CRS

On November 4, 2021, USAID’s Administrator Samantha Power set out her vision to make aid more accessible, equitable and responsive. A key part of this vision is the commitment to the “localization” agenda: by 2025, 25% of USAID’s funding will go to local partners and by 2030, 50% of programming will be led by local communities.

Large US consultancy firms, intergovernmental organizations, and international NGOs have dominated US aid implementation for the past few decades. Implementation by local organizations is mainly as minority partners of these much larger organizations or as direct recipients of very small proportions of overall spend. Shifting to greater local ownership of aid projects has been an important element of the aid effectiveness agenda for several decades. 

Publish What You Fund has carried out detailed research into the 25% local partner funding goal. From this research, we have calculated an independent baseline of the current proportion of USAID funds received by local organizations in 10 selected countries. While calculating this baseline, we developed what we see as a more detailed approach to measuring progress towards the 25% target. We have compared this with the approach that USAID is currently using to illustrate the significant difference that the choice of measurement approach will have on outcomes. 

Using our more detailed approach to measuring progress, the amount of funding going to local organizations across the 10 countries was 5.7% of the total ($445m). This is $1.50bn short of what would have been needed to reach a local funding level of 25%.1 Using USAID’s measurement approach, the local funding proportion is 11.1% ($612m). To reach 25% funding to local partners using the parameters of this approach, USAID would have needed to channel $1.38bn through local organizations.2 In this case, that means a shortfall of $769m.