The Journey to Self-Reliance is a key goal of USAID’s development efforts. The idea is to orient the U.S Government’s development work toward a time when foreign assistance is no longer necessary. “It's [USAID's] anchoring framework for how we think about achieving our ultimate goal, which is ending the need for foreign assistance,” said USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Chris Maloney.
“If we want to end the need for foreign assistance in a given country, it means that country has to be self-reliant.”
There are two very specific ways that USAID thinks about self-reliance. “The first is looking at the commitment that we see in a country,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Maloney:
“What I mean by commitment are things like policy choices, informal governance mechanisms, cultural norms, things that help or hinder, help or hinder a country along its journey in terms of the choices it's making on its development path.
Second, USAID looks at is capacity.
“So things like education levels, health levels, the ability of the government to deliver services. The strength of civil society. The economic structure. Things that you can't just change with the stroke of a pen.”
USAID believes that by helping a country increase commitment and build capacity, it will set that country moving along a journey to self-reliance and toward being able to manage its own development challenges.
“So this idea of a journey, self-reliance, I kind of like to say at the end of the day, it's a fancy way of talking about the development spectrum, making sure that we're doing a very country centric approach to that, and particularly in Africa's case, really looking hard at the commitment capacity in a given country and figuring out how we can support both of those as best we can.”
If you would like to find out how a country is doing on the journey to self-reliance, and how it’s stacking up against its neighbors (or any other developing country for that matter), have a look at USAID’s “Country Roadmaps.” These simple visualizations use third party data to assess commitment and capacity in a given country, and provide a sense of a country’s self-reliance strengths and weaknesses across 17 metrics. They are available at https://selfreliance.usaid.gov/ for any country classified as low or middle income.