Understanding USAID: Know Their Goals and Objectives

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Understanding USAID: Know Their Goals and Objectives

Baby Kabuche, 30-years-old and four months pregnant, lies under the mosquito net she received at the health center in Mwanza, Tanzania. © 2016 Riccardo Gangale/VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare

By Bea Bezmalinovic Dhebar

International Health & Development Consultant & Humentum Trainer

This post is the second in a four-part series on business development. Posts will be published every other Friday through September 16; check back September 2 for the next post. See the first post here.

Bea will be co-facilitating our two-day USAID Proposal Development: An Introduction workshop on November 3-4 in Washington, DC. Register here.

If you want to work with USAID, you need to understand their goals and objectives (and their constraints). USAID works in a variety of technical areas including agriculture, economic development, environment, infrastructure, democracy, human rights, governance, gender, global health, water and sanitation, humanitarian disaster relief, and response. Understanding USAID’s strategy in these technical areas is imperative before you begin your business development efforts.

You need to find the intersection between your organization’s mission, expertise, and experience and USAID’s program definition, strategies, and needs. A good place to start is by reviewing USAID’s program strategies. These are posted on USAID.gov in the relevant technical areas.

A partial list of resources for USAID program strategies includes:

These broad program categories may subsume smaller components that also have specific, publically available strategies. For example, within Global Health, there are specific strategies for health system strengthening, family planning, and HIV/AIDS. These program strategies shape USAID’s approach at the country level. They highlight what USAID will fund. It is helpful to be familiar with the objectives, strategies, and terms used in these documents especially when writing proposals for USAID.

USAID’s Country Plans

Another way to get to know USAID is to review their plans for any countries or regions that are a priority for your organization. The Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) is a formal document, often shared and approved by the host government, which guides the USAID Mission strategy. The CDCS define the Mission’s main development objective and intermediate results and sub results. These result areas reflect the Mission’s funding strategy. These five-year, country-based strategies show how Agency assistance is synchronized with other USG agencies' efforts.

CDCS incorporate:

  • Presidential Initiatives
  • U.S. government policies and strategies
  • USAID policies and strategies

A CDCS usually takes 12-18 months to prepare and includes market research in the year prior to the release of the CDCS. Once approved, the CDCS informs the USAID mission’s assistance planning, budgeting, and resource allocation. The CDCS relies on thorough analysis and division of labor to set and achieve goals and objectives in close collaboration with host governments and citizens. Procurements, especially in smaller Missions, may be linked to the CDCS cycle. The CDCS development process is often a point at which the USAID Mission staff reflect on their development priorities and it can be a time when a mission adds, subtracts, or changes its objectives and desired results. As a Mission’s development objectives become clearer, USAID uses this information to inform the project design and procurement process.

You should read the CDCS to understand Mission development objectives, intermediate result and sub-result areas. The CDCS will also define which of USAID’s sectors or sub-sectors are relevant for the Mission in question. CDCS also captures any geographic focus areas or priority populations.

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