Aid, Development and Progress 2011

Written by  //  December 26, 2011  //  Aid & Development, X-cutting Issues  //  1 Comment

The magic of diasporas


Immigrant networks are a rare bright spark in the world economy. Rich countries should welcome them
(The Economist) Diaspora networks—of Huguenots, Scots, Jews and many others—have always been a potent economic force, but the cheapness and ease of modern travel has made them larger and more numerous than ever before. There are now 215m first-generation migrants around the world: that’s 3% of the world’s population. If they were a nation, it would be a little larger than Brazil. There are more Chinese people living outside China than there are French people in France. Some 22m Indians are scattered all over the globe. Small concentrations of ethnic and linguistic groups have always been found in surprising places—Lebanese in west Africa, Japanese in Brazil and Welsh in Patagonia, for instance—but they have been joined by newer ones, such as west Africans in southern China.
These networks of kinship and language make it easier to do business across borders (see article). They speed the flow of information: a Chinese trader in Indonesia who spots a gap in the market for cheap umbrellas will alert his cousin in Shenzhen who knows someone who runs an umbrella factory. Kinship ties foster trust, so they can seal the deal and get the umbrellas to Jakarta before the rainy season ends. Trust matters, especially in emerging markets where the rule of law is weak. (November 2011)
Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and Accra Agenda for Action (2008) (PDF)
Development for Results 2009-2010: At the Heart of Canada’s Efforts for a Better World
Is Western aid making a difference in Africa?
(CSM) Two US economists [Ayub Rioba and Jeffrey Sachs] debate the value of antipoverty efforts.
“Is this really how to save Africa?” asks Tanzanian columnist Ayub Rioba, a day after Bill Clinton has left Africa. “We appreciate generous and humane contributions from people like Bill Clinton,” he writes in The Citizen, a respected Tanzanian national daily paper. “But we [Africans] must also show that we are doing something. We have been made permanent recipients of aid, funds, scholarships, food, medicine, from developed countries…. Since we gained independence, almost 50 years ago, we have been receiving aid permanently, and statistics today indicate that we are becoming poorer!” (23 August 2007)
2011 Annual Letter from Bill Gates
In my third annual letter, I make the case against cutting foreign aid for the poorest, even in the current budget environment. Investing in aid works. It has had a huge impact on the lives of poor people, and it also helps people in donor countries by promoting stable and prosperous societies across the globe. Whether you think it’s an issue of morality or enlightened self-interest, aid spending is uniquely effective spending. (January 2011)

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Millennium Development Goals are within reach
Two-thirds of developing countries are likely to meet the Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction, a report from the World Bank says. China, India, Cambodia and Ethiopia are among the countries on track to reduce poverty by at least half. The Christian Science Monitor (12/26)
22 December
Cookstoves alliance chief talks sustainability
Radha Muthiah, executive director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, talks in this interview about trying to stop the “silent killer” of toxic cooking smoke that affects the health, well-being and environment of billions of people — and kills about 2 million people annually, more than malaria or tuberculosis. “We are not attempting to parachute in stoves and leave but rather fostering a means for bringing jobs, better health outcomes, and an increased standard of living through the creation of new clean cookstove companies, projects, and opportunities,” Muthiah says. TheAtlantic.com (12/22)
10 December
CIDA, governance and Muhammad Yunus
John Richards asks why the Canadian International Development Agency is ignoring the campaign of character assassination waged by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina against Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank
(Inroads Summer/Fall 2011) More so than elsewhere in official Ottawa, CIDA embodies a certain Canadian angélisme that prevents grappling with the world as it is. In many of CIDA’s countries of focus the major impediment to development is not lack of financial resources; it is the strategic decisions taken by the governing elites.
2 December
Big data, small wars, local insights: Designing for development with conflict-affected communities
(McKinsey|What Matters) Of all the ills that impede development around the world, persistent conflict may be the most pernicious and the most widespread. … many of the traditional approaches to development simply will not work in conflict-ridden zones. From lack of mobility for aid workers stuck “behind the wire” to the corruption unleashed by the cash that flows from large-scale programs to the difficulty of finding local partners able to stay the course amid instability, development projects in war-torn regions present unique challenges.
Global realities are reflected in Busan agreement
Negotiations during the fourth high-level forum on aid effectiveness last week in Busan, South Korea, has revealed shifting geopolitical realities and the growing influence of the BRIC countries, especially China, India and Brazil. What differences will these changes mean for the world’s poor? The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (12/2)
New Tanzania cookstoves are a net gain for families, ecology
The installation of 13,301 improved biomass stoves in Tanzanian homes is reducing firewood consumption by half, resulting in savings valued at $1.25 million while preserving woodlands and reducing the time women spend collecting firewood, according to a study by the UN Development Program study. Members of households participating in the pilot program are helping to build, and collect materials for, the stoves. AllAfrica Global Media (12/1)
Busan Skirts Gender Equality
(IPS) – Gender champions have lauded the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness for providing gender equality and the empowerment of women a special session, but there is dissatisfaction with Thursday’s Busan Outcome document. [Busan Partnership for effective development co-operation .pdf]
Although the document alluded to gender equality, experts feel that the scope is narrow and does not really touch the core issues that can be catalytic to the empowerment of women. “There has been progress since the Paris Declaration, which had no mention of gender equality. In the Accra declaration, gender equality achieved some recognition in relation to development. Today, we have moved slightly beyond Accra,” Kate Lappin, regional coordinator of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, said.
30 November
EWB Commends Federal Government as Canada Commits to International Aid Transparency Initiative
Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) today welcomed the Canadian government’s decision to become a signatory of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), committing to more effective Canadian aid.
Cost-benefit analysis suggests that by signing on to IATI, Canada and the other 22 countries who have signed on will collectively improve the effectiveness of their aid by $1.6 billion dollars, while creating opportunities for public scrutiny in Canada and abroad, reducing corruption and mismanagement, and helping focus our resources on the most effective initiatives.
Aid conference grapples with tied aid, rights

Rwanda is leading a charge by African countries at a major aid conference to end the practice of tied aid, where development aid is tied to purchases from companies in donor countries, by 2013. Civil society groups, which have backed the call to end tied aid, are also pushing for guarantees from governments on the freedom of association and speech. The Guardian (London) (11/28)
Public-private partnerships are the future of foreign policy
Public-private partnerships such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves — which has brought together more than 175 NGOs, government agencies, corporations and foundations to secure the use of 100 million clean cookstoves globally by 2020 — are a “very useful took in the foreign policy toolbox,” writes Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department. Not only do such alliances harness private incentives to public goals, Slaughter writes, but they are better at pooling global experience with local knowledge in developing countries. CNN/Global Public Square blog (11/25)
19 November
The magic of diasporas
Immigrant networks are a rare bright spark in the world economy. Rich countries should welcome them
(The Economist) Diaspora networks—of Huguenots, Scots, Jews and many others—have always been a potent economic force, but the cheapness and ease of modern travel has made them larger and more numerous than ever before. There are now 215m first-generation migrants around the world: that’s 3% of the world’s population. If they were a nation, it would be a little larger than Brazil. There are more Chinese people living outside China than there are French people in France. Some 22m Indians are scattered all over the globe. Small concentrations of ethnic and linguistic groups have always been found in surprising places—Lebanese in west Africa, Japanese in Brazil and Welsh in Patagonia, for instance—but they have been joined by newer ones, such as west Africans in southern China.
These networks of kinship and language make it easier to do business across borders (see article). They speed the flow of information: a Chinese trader in Indonesia who spots a gap in the market for cheap umbrellas will alert his cousin in Shenzhen who knows someone who runs an umbrella factory. Kinship ties foster trust, so they can seal the deal and get the umbrellas to Jakarta before the rainy season ends. Trust matters, especially in emerging markets where the rule of law is weak.
Family planning would benefit development efforts
Family planning services could help communities around the world better manage development concerns from health care to climate change if religious and political barriers to increased programming were removed, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes. Basic standard education and protections for women’s rights, combined with research into better contraceptives, could help the global community adapt as the population grows. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (11/2)
Africa struggles with secondary education
Governments in Africa are struggling to meet demands for secondary education, with girls facing more challenges to securing access than boys, according to a report from UNESCO. Many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are unable to successfully provide education services to more than one-third of children. Inter Press Service (10/25)
Cookstove movement is just one example of “impact investment”
The public-private partnership between the United Nations Foundation and the U.S. State Department to promote clean cookstoves in poor countries is an example of the so-called impact investment that is “the current rage” in economic development, write Tarun Khanna, a professor at Harvard University, and Jayant Sinha, head of the Indian arm of the Omidyar Network global philanthropic fund. The $50 million project, among others, points to the ways in which microfinance and impact investing can stimulate change when both governments and markets fail, they say. Project-Syndicate.org (10/4)
George Soros gives $27 million to Africa project
(CSM) George Soros pledge for Millennium Villages project will help 500,000 people in 10 countries meet UN development goals.
His $50 million pledge in 2006 was distributed over the next five years. The project’s track record has proved its success, said Soros. “It has been a big challenge, but the project has come a long way,” he said.
30 September
Aid to Africa’s starving: is cash better than food? … one western aid group operating [in Kenya] is adding to the traditional approaches to foreign assistance. It’s taken to handing out cash. That’s a bit of a departure from the usual goals of funding sustainable development because it lets the needy decide how to spend it.
27 September
(SciDev Net) Not just weapons: nuclear science for development
Increasingly, the TC aims to help member states achieve development goals through the use of nuclear technologies. Improving human health is fundamental to social and economic development, but other nuclear technologies are also making vital contributions to development.
Innovative financing for development
The Pledge Guarantee for Health is an example of an innovative model that can help ensure continued progress on health and development goals in the current challenging global economic climate, microloan pioneer Muhammad Yunus and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland write. The PGH, a financial tool developed by the United Nations Foundation and others, involves donors providing guarantees to lending institutions and drug manufacturers that will receive payment on time for supplies sent to developing countries. The Huffington Post (9/27)
12 September
Development Aid for Africa — ‘The Problems Don’t Disappear with Sacks of Rice’
Does aid to Africa do more harm than help? In a SPIEGEL interview, Zambian author and economist Dambisa Moyo explains how Western efforts have stalled real progress in Africa for the last 40 years and why it should be stopped. Africans, she argues, need to finally take responsibility for themselves.
Poor countries cutting aid levels through growth, autonomy
Developing countries have become less reliant on aid over the past decade, in part, through government efforts to use foreign assistance wisely in order to reduce long-term dependence, according to a report published by the international development organization ActionAid. The report cites statistics that appear to change the narrative on the role of aid when it is used by poor countries to help mobilize domestic resources. The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (9/13)
6 September
How Howard Buffett Will Use His Grandfather’s Recipe For Riches To Disrupt Philanthropy
BY Gregory Ferenstein
(FastCompany) The grandson of the legendary investor aims to bring some private-sector savvy to the growing world of mega-philanthropy.
Howard Buffett is attempting to unify the scattered world of independent nonprofits through his grandfather’s multi-billion dollar investment strategy: Invest in a portfolio of smart people and let them flourish. Having just taken the reins as Executive Director of the family foundation after holding posts in the White House and Department of Defense, Buffett has ambitious plans to pay the world’s savviest nonprofits to collaboratively tackle the full spectrum of food security, from third-world farmer education to public policy.
There are of course some valid objections to the concept (see comments following the story), but the originality of the approach merits serious consideration.
13 August
Development NGOs Face “Existential Challenge”
(IPS) [Muhammad] Yunus was forced by the government to resign from Grameen – a move the panelists said is indicative of a new challenge civil society faces to carve out a space to operate against the backdrop of an emerging trend of stifling governments.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of restrictions on foreign funding and what we call the rise of philanthropic protectionism,” said Doug Rutzen, president and CEO of the International Center for Not-Profit Law.
One needed to look no further than Friday’s newspapers for evidence. The U.S. embassy in Cairo made headlines by issuing a strong defence of U.S. aid to Egypt after Egypt’s State Security prosecutors probed foreign funding of civil society groups, using a Mubarak-era law that allows foreign funding only to registered NGOs.
Other reports circulated Friday said that USAID would suspend humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip over allegations that the Palestinian Hamas group was overstepping its boundaries and interfering with international NGOs.
“The challenge is very existential, it’s not just about activists being assassinated,” said Ingrid Srinath, secretary general for CIVICUS. “It’s about the social contract being renegotiated. It’s been renegotiated by stealth.”
A global financial crisis, Srinath said, has also put a new set of forces into play, as donors pull their resources inward to a more domestic focus.
The changing nature of development aid
The ripple effects of the Arab Spring are influencing how development aid is used in the Middle East and North Africa, with a new emphasis on co-designing initiatives that help people change their lives, Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, says in an interview. Advances in science and technology also are changing the nature of aid, she says, pacing a move away from large-scale undertakings toward microaid — a series of small changes that also help poor people change their own lives. Devex.com (8/11)
8 August
Craig and Marc Kielburger: East Africa Needs Infrastructure to Fight Famine
Drought is not new to East Africa. The response this time is reminiscent of past emergency aid operations that provided short-term relief, but halted prior to addressing systemic change. We need more than food drops to stop famine. We need boreholes, irrigation, agricultural capacity-building, water-catchment systems, permanent schools, sanitation, and policy research…to start.
Instead of such long-term support, we’re stuck in a cycle. Catastrophe sparks attention and piques donor interest. Of course, we must help now; every aid agency is grateful for the urgent assistance. But too often after the travelling media circus packs up, donor dollars dry up and nonprofits don’t have the means to build sustainable infrastructure.
5 August
Ethiopia ‘using aid as weapon of oppression’
(BBC) A joint undercover investigation by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that the Ethiopian government is using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression.
Posing as tourists the team of journalists travelled to the southern region of Ethiopia.
There they found villages where whole communities are starving, having allegedly been denied basic food, seed and fertiliser for failing to support Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The investigation has also gathered evidence of mass detentions, the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings by Ethiopian government forces.
29 July
PBS Newshour: The United Nation’s World Food Program has been airlifting food and supplies into the famine-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa. Jeffrey Brown interviews WFP’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran about the existing conditions and WFP’s efforts to raise funds to pay for aid. She makes the point that: “This is the worst drought declared in 60 years. But we have to ask ourselves why we’re not seeing deaths in Ethiopia or Kenya, like we would have in past droughts. And in part, it’s because resiliency efforts have been put in place. The World Food Program, we have been building up our efforts since last August, seeing this drought coming.
And where we can reach people, we’re not seeing the types of deaths or out-of-control situation. So the world actually has been doing a good job, and for — and our world has contributed half-a-billion dollars so far since January to build up supplies to the people affected by this drought.”
Clashes erupt in Somali capital as UN food aid arrives

A day after the UN World Food Programme began delivering emergency food aid to famine-stricken Somalia, heavy fighting erupted in the capital, Mogadishu, where government forces supported by African Union troops tried to dislodge fighters of the Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, from a stadium in the northern part of the city. The clashes were unlikely to affect the airlifting of aid, the initial shipment of which included 10 tons of protein- and calorie-rich foods. Deutsche Welle (Germany) (7/28), BBC (7/28)
Phasing out “aid,” phasing in “development cooperation”

A high-level forum on aid effectiveness scheduled for later this year in South Korea will eschew the word “aid” in favor of the term “development cooperation.” The emergence of developing countries as influential voices in international relations and humanitarian assistance has lent an old-fashioned feel to the word “aid,” but will the linguistic shift make any real difference? The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (7/27)
Somali militants reassert aid ban
Islamist rebels in Somalia insist that a ban on certain Western aid groups remains in force despite earlier claims by the United Nations that the restrictions had been lifted. A spokesman for al-Shabaab characterized UN reports of famine as “sheer propaganda,” accusing the world body of exaggerating the severity of the drought. Al-Jazeera (7/22), BBC (7/22)
24 June
Aid and Somaliland — Mo money mo problems
(The Economist/Baobab) Nicholas Eubank, a researcher at Stanford University, claims that some of Somaliland’s success is [due] to a dearth of aid. Donors cannot give aid directly to the government since it is not recognised as such. It has been dependent on raising local tax revenue, which the paper says citizens have used as leverage to make the government more inclusive, representative and accountable. For those looking to bash the multi-billion dollar aid industry, it is an appealing thesis. But is it true?
23 June
In Afghanistan war, US civilian surge peaks as Pentagon begins pullback
(CSM) While President Obama has laid out a path for reducing US military involvement in the Afghanistan war, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the civilian surge of 1,100 engineers, aid workers, and diplomats is only now hitting top gear.
14 June
Foreign aid can be better spent: group

Representatives from Engineers Without Borders were meeting with MPs and held a news conference to push the government to sign on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
The British-led initiative is aiming to get donor countries and organizations to agree to common international standards for the publication of data on how their aid dollars are used.
James Haga, director of advocacy for the humanitarian development group, said the initiative would help Canadians know more about how their taxpayer dollars are spent in developing countries, and, would better inform the recipients of that aid about how money is being spent in their country.
9 June
Both IBM and the Carnegie Corporation will turn 100 this month. Has the multinational business or universal philanthropy done more for society?
(The Economist) “ONE simple way to assess the impact of any organisation is to answer the question: how is the world different because it existed?” That is the test set out by Sam Palmisano in the foreword to a new book celebrating the 100th birthday of IBM, the firm he has run since 2002. But another organisation is also turning 100 this month—the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a flagship of American philanthropy. Mr Palmisano’s insight is too good to limit to only one of the centenarians. A better question is: which has done more for the world, one of its leading companies or one of its most influential charities?
Summit spotlights technology and health
Representatives from corporations, governments and nonprofit organizations gathered Monday at the UN Social Innovation Summit to discuss collaborating for positive social change, including how to use technology to improve the access and quality of health care worldwide. Already Hewlett-Packard and a Botswana-based nonprofit, Positive Innovation for the Next Generation, are teaming up to develop a mobile technology system to monitor malaria in Africa, where some 75 million people are estimated to be at risk of the disease. The Huffington Post (6/6)
HP in mobile health trial

Clinical trials that equip caregivers with smartphones that use applications designed to collect data about malaria outbreaks, and cardiovascular disease, presage the growing role of mobile health monitoring in global health. In Botswana, Hewlett-Packard has teamed up with Positive Innovation for the Next Generation, a mobile health company, to help officials and doctors stem the spread of malaria in specific areas by visually monitoring a database of pictures, video and GPS information. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Bits blog (6/6)
UN Foundation partners to transform mHealth
In an interview, the chief executive officer and co-founder of DataDyne, which creates Web and mobile software for the global health and international development community, cites the partnership between the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation — which provided funding and communications support — as essential to the success of the social startup. “Obviously, the funding was important, and we wouldn’t have been able to do anything without that, but almost as important was their help in getting the word out about what we were creating,” said Joel Selanikio. The Guardian (London) (5/27)
Aiding Fledgling Democracies: G-8 Leaders Pledge Billions to Egypt and Tunisia
(Spiegel) The heads of government of the world’s eight leading industrialized nations, the G-8, and Russia moved Friday to support further democratization in Arab countries in northern Africa following the uprisings there this spring. Meeting in France at their annual summit, the G-8 leaders pledged that Egypt and Tunisia could receive more than $20 billion (€14 billion) in aid from international banks from now until 2013.
Gates urges more agricultural investment
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has issued a challenge to the world’s wealthiest countries to increase government investment in agricultural production and help address volatile global food prices. Gates, with the help of Warren Buffett, has funneled $1.7 billion over the past five years into efforts to support small farmers in developing countries. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (5/25)
21 May
The Real Successes of Foreign Aid
Recent critics have called aid wasteful. Bill Gates looks at a new book that shows its many benefits
(WSJ) Foreign development aid can help empower communities in developing countries if funds are directed toward supporting integration of inexpensive technologies that can improve quality of life, writes Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates reviews economist Charles Kenny’s new approach (“Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—and How We Can Improve the World Even More.“) to measuring success of development efforts by focusing on quality of life improvements rather than solely on income levels.
Doug Saunders: An unlikely path to aid: Paying to set up think tanks
(Globe & Mail) … Aid and economic assistance won’t help deal with the fundamental problems as long as the political system consists of a thin selection of largely unprofessional and self-interested people, without competition, checks and balances, or institutional knowledge that lasts beyond a sudden change of regime. That’s what people in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Central America endlessly tell me.
Even in countries that are nominally democratic, there simply isn’t the depth of experience or professionalism to keep corruption at bay and institutional knowledge in place. When political parties are out of power, they tend to dwindle into feeble irrelevance. The best minds in government are drawn to the private sector. Civil servants follow the rules, but have few resources to develop new ideas or fight the entrenched kleptocracy.
So what if, instead of attempting to pay for irrigation canals and nursing schools, some of that aid money instead went to pay for political think tanks?
That was the unlikely idea proposed to me recently by Rakesh Mohan, the renowned Indian economist, former central banker and economic reformer. Mr. Mohan, one of the major forces behind India’s industrial transformation, noted that countries like his are now reasonably self-sufficient in conventional development terms – but they’re stuck in the dreary, motionless past in terms of political development. And that prevents anything else from moving.
16 May
LDC Meet Ends, Blame Game Begins
(IPS) – Mission not accomplished. This is in three words what more than 200 eminent speakers and panelists from over 70 participating countries in effect told their peers, the media and delegates who attended the U.N. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Fourth Conference
Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV)
New Action Programme, and New Name for the Poorest
ISTANBUL, May 13, 2011 (IPS) – A new 10-year blueprint for assisting the poorest countries on the planet to join the league of the more fortunate ones was approved Friday at the closing of the [meeting]. Civil Society Rejects ‘Toothless’ Istanbul Plan of Action
(IPS) – Civil society groups have vowed to mobilise citizens of the world’s poorest nations to take to the streets, rejecting the Istanbul Programme of Action agreed today by the Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
11 May
Development groups hope majority brings change but not everyone agrees
(Embassy – subscription) Embattled international development groups are hopeful that having attained their coveted majority, the Harper government will be more relaxed and prepared to enter a new era of dialogue and co-operation with the sector.
“We’re hopeful that with a majority, the government will be more open to different points of view and less nervous about dialogue with civil society organizations, with the confidence a majority brings,” said Oxfam Canada policy co-ordinator Mark Fried.
Experts, however, say this is wishful thinking and that NGOs that rely on government support had better start preparing for the worst.
8 May
Time For New Approaches says Civil Society
(IPS) – The dominant approaches to development have failed the world’s poorest citizens and now the paradigm must change. This is the strong message coming from over 2,000 non-governmental organisations gathered at the civil society forum for the Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) in Istanbul, Turkey.
Arjun Karki, spokesperson for the forum, told the gathering that the failure to see more LDC countries graduate from this most vulnerable classification reflects a serious failure of the model of development aid advanced by leading players in the international community.
20 April
Corruption: The biggest threat to developing economies

(Forbes) This is corruption, a problem we’d rather not think about that now threatens the ascension of developing countries into the top tier of world economies. … But while the media and Wall Street focus on more tractable issues like inflation and exchange rates, world leaders seem perfectly clear on the greatest threat to the future of the BRICs and other emerging economies.
The problem is not just the petty palm greasing that’s common worldwide, though that has its own corrosive effects. Developing-market corruption has reached staggering dimensions. … The threat is broader than it may seem: Corruption discourages the investments needed for economic progress. In India “high-level corruption and scams are now threatening to derail the country’s credibility and [its] economic boom,” says a report from KPMG.
The societal effects are subtler and arguably worse. Initiative and ambition shrivel.
19 April
Failing Grades
(Foreign Policy) The real schools of Afghanistan and Pakistan look nothing like the fantasy peddled by Greg Mortenson.
To be sure, building schools has been a central element of development efforts in the region and a way to fight terrorism and combat Islamic extremism. But in the real schools of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a much different and more nuanced picture of the battle to educate millions emerges. Daniel Glick: 60 Minutes expose on Three Cups of Tea is weak – and wrong.A quite passionate, well reasoned defense of Greg Mortenson, but the most interesting part is the Comments section.
18 April
CIDA: a broken agency that needs to be overhauled
(Globe & Mail editorial) In a rapidly changing world, Canada needs to be able to respond quickly to urgent development needs overseas. Yet the agency tasked to do this is so overburdened by complex bureaucracy and excessive compliance requirements that it can take as long as 43 months for aid projects to receive approval. This is depriving Canada of its ability to address global inequities, and extend its power and influence in the world. … Canada must join the International Aid Transparency Initiative, and appoint a minister who can credibly engage Canadians in a conversation about why aid efficiency matters.
‘Three Cups of Tea’ Author Defends Book
(NYT) While the publishing industry waited to see whether it faced the embarrassment of yet another partly fabricated memoir, Greg Mortenson, the co-author of the best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,”  forcefully countered a CBS News report on Sunday that questioned the facts of his book and the management of his charitable organization. (LA Times) Greg Mortenson responds to ’60 Minutes’ questions about his ‘Three Cups of Tea’ story In his written statement, Mortenson looks to language, and an underlying difference in worldview, to blame for accounts that contradict his own.
15 April
Questions over Greg Mortenson’s stories
(CBS News) Some of the most inspiring and dramatic stories in the best-selling book, “Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson, are not true, multiple sources tell “60 Minutes” as part of an investigation by correspondent Steve Kroft. (USA Today) ’60 Minutes’ investigates ‘Three Cups of Tea’ author Greg Mortenson.
Humanitarian aid is lacking for Ivorian recovery
Cote d’Ivoire requires $300 million in humanitarian aid to recover from the post-election conflict that culminated with the arrest Monday of former President Laurent Gbagbo, but, to date, only $57 million has been committed. “We need to act now to deliver more food, provide shelter and offer better medical treatment to those who are sick,” said a UN official. Reuters (4/13)
30 March
Least Developed Countries Stagnate Under Ailing Strategies
(IPS) – A report released Tuesday by the International Labour Organization (ILO) for the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) slated to take place in Istanbul, Turkey in early May expressed a strong critique of the snail’s pace of development, but stopped just short of calling for radical new policies to be implemented.
The report, entitled “Growth, Employment and Decent Work in the Least Developed Countries”, solidified widespread fears that the “graduation” rate of LDCs was abysmally low, with only three countries out of 51 – the Maldives, Botswana and Cape Verde – moving out of the category since it was created by the United Nations in 1970.
Aid cuts would hit cost-effective health programs
Foreign aid spending reductions proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House would cut directly into some of the simplest and most cost-effective world health programs, such as provision of malaria nets, tuberculosis drugs and HIV screening. Those affected by the proposed $1 billion loss in outlays would number in the tens of thousands to millions worldwide, depending on the program they depend on, according to AIDS research foundation AmfAR. The New Republic (free registration) (3/24)
2 March
Let’s talk frankly about failure in foreign aid
(Globe & Mail) As part of our Leading Thinkers series, George Roter, co-founder and co-CEO of Engineers Without Borders took questions on failure in aid, in an earlier discussion. Here is the transcript.
7 February
Bill Gates: the view from Seattle
(The Economist) IN THE past five years, Bill and Melinda Gates have given more money and ideas to Africa than most European countries. They discovered early on that the problem with philanthropy in Africa was finding partners “on the ground” reliable enough to do the work and not just suckle on the milksome teat of Seattle. In response, they have sought to make the most of their giving by focusing on measurable technologies. In this guest post for Baobab, Mr Gates argues that the focus of the Gates Foundation should be health and agriculture.
Summit looks at Doha effects on poverty levels
Delegates to the recent global poverty summit in South Africa examined what progress has been made as a result of the Doha Development Round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization a decade ago. Progress related to the Doha effort — which aims to reduce barriers to market access in agriculture, intellectual property and services as a means to decrease poverty levels in developing countries — has been limited by the continuation of government subsidies for exports by developed countries, according to delegates. IRINNews.org (1/20)
Africa looks to become food secure

The agriculture development plans of 18 African countries underwent a review and overhaul in 2010 as part of the African Union’s bid to make the continent more food self-sufficient. More than 60% of the continent’s population live in rural areas and rely on farming for their food and income. IRINNews.org (1/6)

One Comment on "Aid, Development and Progress 2011"

  1. MG November 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm · Reply

    Re Public-private partnerships
    This is an interesting piece offering a pragmatic approach to what may be perceived as efficiency and expediency.
    I would wager that the patterns established by immigrant business networks would be more efficient in bringing aid “to market” than PPPs. Diasporas offer networks of resources that help to spread opportunities, ideas, money and open closed and difficult to access markets.
    My view is that we simply step away from aid delivery all together and concentrate on enabling diaspora networks to operate with the appropriate oversight and intervention.
    Canada has a unique opportunity here with established multi-ethnic diasporas.
    The challenge I see is to encourage these networks to invest in Canada. Questions I ask myself are what sort of trade frameworks enable diaspora networks to function effectively from Canada and invent in Canada.

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