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Former USAID Director Natsios Outlines the Future on Foreign Aid



By Aurora Matthews

On Thurs. March 15, Andrew Natsios, former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), discussed the past and future of U.S. foreign aid, and the role of development in an uncertain world.  Natsios’ lecture was presented by the Professor Saul M. Katz Internal Lectureship on Economic and Social Development.

“We cannot save the world through foreign aid, but we can absolutely improve it through development,” said Natsios.  “The best changes are incremental.  We must have a long-term perspective.” 

Natsios explained in his lecture to a large audience on Thursday that there are three main types of foreign aid: charitable aid, grassroots development and state building.  His extensive experience working in international development has taught him that in order to successfully implement change through aid there needs to be local leaders willing to take risks as well as legitimate institutions.  “You can have a decentralized system, but you must have institutions to mediate conflict in an orderly way,” said Natsios. “Institution building must be part of development.”

Natsios sees the future of foreign aid following the new direction of public and private alliances.  “In the 1970’s, 70 percent of aid from the U.S. came from the public, but in 2007 only nine percent of capital flow was from the public sector.  The other 91 percent was from the private sector,” said Natsios.  “This is the future of foreign aid.”  He highlighted USAID’s Global Development Alliance model, a $9 billion program that is designed to deliver aid to developing countries through public-private partnerships, and the Sustainable Forest Products Global Alliance.  

Natsios served as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development from May 2001 to January 2006 and also served as the Special Envoy to Sudan.  He also was vice president of World Vision U.S., the largest faith-based NGO in the world from 1993 to 1998.  Natsios is currently a is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.  He is also the author of three books: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1997), The Great North Korean Famine (2001), Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur:  What Everyone Needs to Know (2012).

The Katz Lecture was established in 1994 by one of GSPIA’s founding faculty members, Dr. Saul M. Katz.  During much of Dr. Katz’s tenure at GSPIA he served as the Director of Programs in Economic and Social Development (now the Masters in International Development Degree) and was credited with putting to use 20 years of government and Army experience to prepare international students in development policies that would foster growth and self-sufficiency.  Past speakers of the Katz Lecture Series include: Dr. Dipak K. Gupta, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Political Science at San Diego State University; Steve McDonald, director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Elinor Ostrom, winner of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

This lecture was presented by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), the Ford Institute for Human Security, and International Orthodox Christian Charities and is endowed by the Saul M. Katz Lectureship on Social and Economic Development.

Click here, to watch the lecture.

To learn more about Andrew Natsios' views on the future of foreign aid, you may read:

Arrested Development: Making Aid an Effective Foreign Policy Tool

Private Alliances Transform Aid

Presentation to Society for International Development


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