Realizing the power of ownership


This post was co-authored by Tariq Ahmad, Aid Effectiveness Researcher at Oxfam America, and Nora O’Connell, Associate Vice President, Public Policy & Advocacy at Save the Children.

As the world plans for the transfer of US political power, we should remember that not all US government policy should be subject to a partisan gladiatorial battle. Particularly on international assistance policy, there is a decades-old foundation of bipartisan comity on which to build.

The bipartisan embrace of country ownership – defined as development driven by local citizens in collaboration with their own governments – is one specific policy trend that deserves continued institutionalization and fortification, both to strengthen US relationships abroad, and to continue the world’s progress toward the elimination of extreme poverty.

Oxfam and Save the Children know from our own experiences that building local ownership into international assistance is one of the best ways to support sustainable and lasting development results. Ownership can strengthen a government’s ability to provide needed services to their own people and create political space for a country’s most marginalized citizens to hold their own governments accountable. Ownership’s greatest potential is its ability to tap into the natural drive – and resources — of citizens themselves to lift their communities and countries out of poverty.

This week, as part of Oxfam and Save the Children’s long-standing efforts to enhance local ownership of US development assistance, our organizations are jointly launching, “The Power of Ownership: Transforming US Foreign Assistance.” The core of this research report is an analysis of USAID and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development projects in Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, and Rwanda that exemplify ownership best practice in US foreign assistance.

The examples in the report not only highlight the value of pursuing ownership, but also provide analysis, findings, and recommendations for practitioners and policymakers who want to strengthen the US’s commitment to ownership. To build on the bipartisan record of success that started with the administration of George W. Bush, and ensure the effectiveness of US development investments, it’s imperative that the next administration continue along the road to reform.

A Global Imperative

Though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the US federal budget, US foreign assistance provides dividends in the form of enhanced U.S. national security and economic prosperity. Using foreign assistance to fight extreme poverty globally creates more stable, prosperous, and democratic countries that are better allies and export markets for American businesses.

While tremendous progress has been made – extreme poverty has been cut by more than half – much more needs to be done.  Continuing to reform these programs can make this small investment can go even further.

How does that work? An ownership approach requires that US international assistance build local leadership and resources into programs, which means that we are not working alone — our investments are being leveraged by local resources, and the results are more likely to be sustained once the US leaves. America should not doing for other countries – it should be helping countries to do for themselves. It should not take on the responsibility of other governments to their people – it should help citizens hold their own governments accountable for their needs.

We witnessed the power of country ownership up close in Indonesia. In a low-income neighborhood in busy Jakarta, we met Ibu Heli, a community health volunteer who goes door to door, scanning her neighborhood for people infected with tuberculosis (TB). She then connects people with TB to local health services and helps them understand the importance of long-term care. USAID provided her with the training to be able to spot TB and respond to it in her community.

What makes this USAID project different is its direct partnership with a local health NGO that has a vast, existing network of devoted health volunteers like Heli. By focusing on existing systems, USAID was able to leverage what was already there to strengthen the “front-line” of Indonesian anti-TB efforts. And the flexibility embedded in the project meant that local organizations were able to adapt tactics based on the local context, which were sensitive to the stigma associated with the disease.

The transition to a new US administration is an opportunity for US international assistance to expand this approach, building genuine partnerships in developing countries and working through people like Heli in Indonesia. If we are to strengthen US security and global prosperity, more local leaders like her need to be given the responsibility and resources to lift their communities out of poverty, creating the space for vibrant citizen-voice that hold governments accountable.

Read the report and learn more about the research at


Save the Children Among First Charities to Accept Donations Using Apple Pay

r3_apple_pay_social_share_card31Looking for a faster, easier, more secure way to give? Save the Children is excited to announce that supporters can now donate using Apple Pay.

Save the Children has a long history of innovation in our work and in ways donors can support our mission to serve children, and because of this, we’re thrilled to be among the first charities to offer Apple Pay. As mobile payments and digital wallets become more and more popular, we want to make sure that our supporters can help children around the world in the way they feel most comfortable.

“Save the Children is excited to accept Apple Pay to make it easier for our supporters to donate to our programs benefiting children around the world,” said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children’s President & CEO. “We’re embracing this new technology that makes supporting our work easier, faster, and safer.”

This isn’t the first time we were first movers in digital payments for charitable giving. As an early adopter of PayPal, Bitcoin, PaySafeCard, G2A Pay Wallet, YouTube donate cards and Facebook donate buttons, we continue to look for ways to adopt to consumer demand by providing a variety of secure and easy ways to give to our mission.

With Apple Pay, donating on our website is now as simple as the touch of a finger with Touch ID, so there’s no need to manually fill out lengthy account forms or repeatedly type in billing information.

Apple Pay is easy for users to set up, but most importantly, security and privacy is at its core. When supporters use a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

When supporting our mission on the go, Apple Pay works with iPhone 6 and later, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 and later. You can also use Apple Pay in Safari on any Mac introduced in or after 2012 running macOS Sierra and confirm the payment with iPhone 6 or later or Apple Watch.

To donate to Save the Children using Apple Pay, visit:

Paying It Forward: The Story of Ralph, a Former Sponsored Child


Eira Maurice Erfe

Sponsorship Assistant

Save the Children Philippines

November 10, 2016

Sometimes, all we need to get ahead in life is a little nudge to push us in the right direction. For Ralph, that nudge came in the form of Save the Children and his sponsor, who gave him a better fighting chance for success.

Ralph was only a teenager when he joined the Sponsorship Program in Iloilo, a province in the central portion of the Philippines. He is the eldest among five siblings. Growing up, both of his parents were unemployed so life for his big family was very hard. But poverty did not stop him from dreaming of a better life. When he became a sponsored child, he knew change was within his reach.

Ralph inside a library he and his team built for children belonging to the minority Mangyan tribe.
Ralph inside a library he and his team built for children belonging to the minority Mangyan tribe.

Ralph participated in our Adolescent Development programs, which include education sessions on important life and leadership skills. It is through these learning opportunities that he developed his self-confidence, helping him become the man he is today. According to Ralph, Sponsorship programs molded him into a better version of himself. He believes that Sponsorship created a lasting impact on his life, and the lives of his friends, because it opened their eyes to new opportunities, and it made them realize that they could do more and be more.

Now 30 years old, Ralph already finished his studies and is working for an international financial institution. As one of the many underprivileged children supported by Save the Children, Ralph believes in giving back by supporting children himself as an adult, so that they too can develop to their fullest potential.

Ralph working with a project that gave food and school supplies to elementary school children.

Apart from supporting his parents and helping his younger siblings finish school, he currently organizes different volunteer activities that help children and families in poor communities all over the Philippines. He also spends his free time working as an academic tutor for homeless children.

Ralph said, “People should realize that if they can give hope to others, others will feel that the situation they are in isn’t going to last forever. They should see that there are people who can maximize opportunities given to them, and that they can be helped.”

Hopefully, in the near future, we can see more people like Ralph, who not only represent a picture of sponsorship success, but also act as a proponent of change, continuing a cycle of volunteerism and bringing the teachings of helping others to another generation.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Joy in Fipokola

author-portrait_kelvin-kasuba-quality-and-communications-coordinatorKelvin Kasuba

Quality and Communications Coordinator

Save the Children Zambia

November 2, 2016


The day had finally arrived. The people of the Fipokola community put on their best and gathered for the long awaited ceremony. It was the kick off of the Lufwanyama Education Rehabilitation project, through which Save the Children Korea, one of the offices that supports Sponsorship in Zambia, was about to make a big change in the lives of the children and families of this community. This project targets high-need communities in the district for the building or reconstruction of schools.

 Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built
Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built.

It was a colorful scene. Tents were decorated with colorful materials and banners were displayed all around. What caught my attention the most was the large crowd that had gathered – upon arrival the whole village it seemed followed behind our vehicle, chanting songs of jubilation and about the great things Save the Children had already done in their community. The occasion was graced with very influential people from society, two Save the Children Korea staff members and also his Royal Highness Chief Lumpuma, the community leader of Fipokola.

In his speech, Chief Lumpuma shared guidance with his people. He called for them to embrace education if they were to succeed. He advised parents to avoid engaging their children in early marriage and other activities at the expense of their education. He said, “I also thank Save the Children for the rehabilitation of this school and for considering us for the first school [to receive support] under the Lufwanyama Education Rehabilitation project.”

Chief Lumpuma preparing to give his speech to the community.

Amidst the excitement one boy told me, “I am happy today because a new school will be built. And I am happy because I will be a part of a new school which will have a better look and books that can help make me a better person in the future, like a doctor, teacher or lawyer.” I was so happy and speechless to see how joyful the parents were at seeing a step of action taken, and the children at their brightened future potential.

It is indeed a dream come true in Fipokola, and it is thanks to Child Sponsorship and Save the Children Korea that they will have the resources needed for construction. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, sponsors!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.