Development Assistance: A Practitioner's Perspective

Sep 16, 2009
Board Room, Mercatus Center

The Social Change Project at the Mercatus Center presented a lecture by Anthony Chan, Deputy Director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Haiti titled Development Assistance: A Practitioner's Perspective.

The question of development assistance and its effectiveness is the focus of a vigorous debate in public policy circles. More often than not, one hears about the failures in spite of historically high and sustained levels of foreign assistance. However, while  there is room for improvement, the impact of development assistance is perhaps better than what the critics have been willing to concede. That willingness would result from an improved understanding of the tremendously complicated process involved in going from an appropriation of funds to delivering a good or service that will make an improvement in an individual's life. There are many actors involved in both donor and host countries, and a reasonable process has to be followed to identify problems, causes, and potential solutions. Those solutions must then be translated into tangible deliverables and implemented. At the same time, one must ensure that all funds are accounted for, results monitored, and policy impact documented. Finally, solution must be implemented in a sustainable fashion such that the improvements to quality of life continue after assistance has been completed.  It would not be surprising to say that compromises and tradeoffs are inevitable in meeting this challenge and, like all compromises, are ultimately imperfect.

Dr. Anthony Chan is a professional economist and has been working with USAID as a Foreign Service Officer since 1992.  He is currently completing French language training at Foreign Service Institute prior to assuming his post as Deputy Director, USAID/Haiti.  Most recently he was Deputy Director for USAID/Nepal (2007-09), Director of the Technical Support (TS), Asia Near East Bureau (2005-07), Chief Economist, USAID/Egypt (2000-04), Mission Economist, USAID/Indonesia (1996-2000), and Regional Economic Advisor, USAID/REDSO (1993-96).  Dr. Chan has a broad range of technical and administrative experience - from overseeing USAID/Nepal's programs in health, economic growth and democracy/governance to designing and managing programs in trade, customs, financial sector restructuring, privatization, fiscal and monetary policy and commercial law.  He has a PhD in economics from UCLA and more than 25 years experience doing economic analysis, research, consulting, quantitative analysis, and project design/implementation, as well as private sector (banking and finance) experience and teaching.