Aid, Development and Progress 2014 – 2017

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Foreign Aid for Development Assistance

Trump’s New “Global Gag Rule” is Much, Much More Far Reaching than George W. Bush’s Policy
(UN Dispatch) Trump dramatically expanded the scope of the Global Gag Rule to include all global health assistance provided by the US government.
Previously, the restrictions embedded in the Global Gag Rule were limited exclusively to NGOs that receive US government assistance for family planning and reproductive health, like contraception. These restrictions include prohibiting that NGO from counseling women that abortion is an option or lobbying foreign governments to liberalize their abortion laws. Even if the funding sources for abortion counseling come from another source, that NGO must cease that counseling or either relinquish its US funding for, say, condom distribution or obstetric surgeries.  That’s how it worked in the Bush administration–to disasterous effect.
But the Trump memo takes this a huge step further. Rather than applying the Global Gag Rule exclusively to US assistance for family planning in the developing world, which amounts to about $575 million per year, the Trump memo applies it to “global health assistance furnished by all department or agencies.” In other words, NGOs that distribute bed nets for malaria, provide childhood vaccines, support early childhood nutrition and brain development, run HIV programs, fight ebola or Zika, and much more, must now certify their compliance with the Global Gag Rule or risk losing US funds. According to analysis from PAI, a global health NGO, this impacts over $9 billion of US funds, or about 15 times more than the previous iteration of the Global Gag Rule which only impacted reproductive health assistance.

2016

16 May
Brazil and China roles in African farming explained
Study examines controversies around Brazilian and Chinese investments in African agriculture
Technology transfer, when it occurs, is context-specific, political, and negotiated
Chinese tech transfer is useful for research on food security and on the emerging powers

2015

EU flagThe European year for development: everyone’s year
2015 is both a new beginning and a deadline
2015 is a special year for development. It is the first ever European Year to deal with the European Union’s external action and Europe’s role in the world. For development organisations all over Europe it is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Europe’s commitment to eradicating poverty worldwide and to inspire more Europeans to get engaged and involved in development. 2015 is also the year in which the Millennium Development Goals that the world agreed to reach in 2000, and in which the international community will agree on the future global framework for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Poverty expert Angus Deaton awarded Nobel prize in economics

(PBS) Princeton economist Angus Deaton was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science on Monday “for his analysis of consumption, poverty and welfare.”
“His research concerns issues of immense importance for human welfare, not least in poor countries,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement today. “Deaton’s research has greatly influenced both practical policymaking and the scientific community. By emphasizing the links between individual consumption decisions and outcomes for the whole economy, his work has helped transform modern microeconomics, macroeconomics and development economics.”
The Swedish Academy awarded Deaton the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research in three related areas: first, his work on demand systems; second, for his work linking consumption and income; and lastly, for his work on measuring and understanding living standards and poverty in developing countries. …
In the 1980s, Deaton’s work focused on the relationship between income and consumption at the aggregate and individual level, and since the 1990s, he has focused on developing economies.
In his 2013 book, “The Great Escape,” Deaton examined the historical patterns between the health and wealth of nations. In it, he also made a surprising case against foreign aid, suggesting that political and commercial interests get in the way of helping the poor.
He also dove into the inequality debate in the United States, warning that extreme inequality threatens the wellbeing of all
3 July
What will $32bn do to solve the world’s problems?
(The Guardian) Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has made global headlines after announcing he will donate his fortune to charity. But what could his $32bn achieve? We look at some of the possibilities
If the money were split equally among the eight programmes the prince suggested – with $4bn going to each – what might it achieve? Here are some of the options.
23 June
Protesters on World Bank projects harassed, jailed, rights group says
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Critics of development projects are harassed, threatened and jailed, yet the World Bank does little to stop governments and powerful companies from intimidating protesters on projects it funds, a watchdog group said.
The World Bank prefers quiet conversations with governments behind closed doors over using its considerable leverage to publicly shame countries that fail to respect basic rights to freedom of speech and assembly, Human Rights Watch said on Monday in a report on reprisals against protesters.
It urged World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to speak out in defense of activists’ democratic rights and accountability, saying these are ideals the bank espouses but fails to uphold on its projects.
18 June
Global humanitarian aid hits record high but needs remain unmet, finds study
Conflict and contributions from Middle East propel humanitarian assistance to unprecedented levels, but UN coordinated appeals fall short by billions
(The Guardian) Global humanitarian assistance rose to record levels in 2014, reflecting the scale and scope of prolonged crises such as the conflicts in Iraq and Syria as well as increased contributions from Middle Eastern donors, according to a study by the non-profit organisation Development Initiatives.
A report by the body’s Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) programme showed that humanitarian assistance rose to $24.5bn (£15.5bn) last year, an increase of 19% on 2013. Middle Eastern donors contributed nearly $1.7bn, a 120% increase on the previous year.
Needs continued to outstrip contributions, however. In its coordinated appeals, the UN fell $7.5bn short of the record $19.5bn it requested to help 87.5 million people. This meant 38% of requirements were not met, even though the world’s leading donors all gave more.
20 April
Erik S. Reinert & Jomo Kwame Sundaram: A Global Marshall Plan
(Project Syndicate) At the turn of the century, international negotiations on economic development had also come to a grinding halt. The Seattle ministerial of the World Trade Organization ended without decision, and after two decades of the Washington Consensus, developing countries were frustrated at the US-led international financial institutions. Negotiations for the inaugural United Nations Financing for Development (FfD) conference in Monterrey, Mexico, seemed to be headed nowhere.
Then, on September 11, 2001, the United States was hit with major terrorist attacks – a tragic development that somehow catalyzed progress. World leaders agreed to begin the Doha Development Round to ensure that trade negotiations would serve developing countries’ development aspirations. And the 2002 Monterrey FfD conference produced major breakthroughs on foreign and domestic investment, foreign debt, international cooperation, trade, and systemic governance issues.
Of course, tragedy is not needed to kick-start progress. This year’s major global meetings – the Conference on Financing for Development in July, the meeting at the United Nations to adopt Sustainable Development Goals in September, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December – should be sufficient. And the efforts that have gone into preparing for these meetings suggest that there is a will to move forward.
But the right program is key. The world needs a well-designed and far-reaching strategy to stimulate industrialization, modeled after the European Recovery Program – the American initiative that enabled Europe to rebuild after World War II. The Marshall Plan, as it is better known, entailed a massive infusion of US aid to support national development efforts in Europe, and is still viewed by many Europeans as America’s finest hour.
8 April
Foreign aid close to record peak after donors spend $135bn in 2014
Official development assistance fractionally shy of previous year’s high-water mark despite 16% drop in aid to least-developed countries
(The Guardian) Aid spending by the world’s richest states hovered around an all-time high last year, but development assistance to the least-developed countries (LDCs) fell by 16% from the year before, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has said.
Member states of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) spent more than $135bn (£90bn) on official development assistance (ODA) last year, a 0.5% decrease from 2013, when a record amount of development aid was sent, according to the OECD.
Huge debt relief to Burma was behind much of the fall in aid to LDCs, the OECD said in its annual report (pdf). But excluding this relief, aid flows to the world’s poorest countries still fell by 8% as donors favoured loans to middle-income states, the OECD said.
The World Bank – Another Lost Opportunity
(Human Rights Watch) World Bank President Jim Yong Kim missed a golden opportunity yesterday. In a public address in Washington, DC – a briefing designed to set the tone for key policy discussions with development and finance ministers at next week’s World Bank and IMF spring summit – Kim didn’t mention human rights once.
One could forgive the omission if it were in any way surprising. But the fact is human rights – and the need for governments and the World Bank to respect them – have been largely absent from Kim’s agenda throughout his presidency.

2014

November
Brett House: How to fight poverty while earning a profit
This past Wednesday, the Aga Khan Foundation convened in Ottawa a compelling meeting to look at adding a commercial lending arm to the Canadian government’s support for international poverty reduction.
The gathering came after months of speculation that 2015 might see the announcement of a new Canadian public fund to catalyze private investment in emerging and frontier markets.
In May, Federal International Development Minister Christian Paradis was named chair of the steering committee for the joint World Economic Forum – Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (WEF-OECD) “Redesigning Development Finance” initiative. This project is charged with identifying new ways to expand the pool of capital available for economic development in poor countries.
Minister Paradis is starting his work at home. In October, he announced that he is looking at “tools” and “mechanisms” to nudge the private sector into helping him meet Canada’s global anti-poverty goals. Last week, he echoed this message in a speech on global public health.
While Minister Paradis is signaling ambitions that far exceed those of his recent ministerial predecessors, Canada is late to the development finance party. Our official aid budget was frozen from 2010 to 2015 at $5 billion annually, equivalent to 0.3 per cent of our GDP. At the same time, Canada’s peers have raced ahead: in 2013, the United Kingdom became the first G7 country to hit Lester B. Pearson’s internationally agreed goal of lifting aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP
31 July
Who is going to pay for international development?
The world does not need another list of financial problems and solutions. It needs a list of priorities
(The Guardian) The time is coming for the big ideas in targets such as the sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be honed into politically feasible commitments.
Addis Ababa is hosting a UN financing for development conference in July 2015, and the timing of the talks, before the goals are announced in September, is a strong message from member states that if credible financial commitments are not made, the whole exercise to refresh the millennium development goals (MDGs) will be little more than words on a page.
As our ODI blog series on development finance comes to an end, one thing is clear: the agenda is broad. How should progress be paid for? What is the role of the private sector? Who should monitor sources of finance? Isn’t it now finally time for structural reform in global financial institutions, such as the World Bank? And what proportion of development should be paid for out of domestic as opposed to international resources?
28 July
Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance
(Vanity Fair) The brainchild of 31-year-old Okendo Lewis-Gayle born in Costa Rica, raised in Italy, educated at Southern New Hampshire University—the organization targets African-born twentysomethings from elite schools who have dreams of starting business ventures and socially responsible projects in their native lands. Discouraged by the frequency with which foreign executives tend to swoop in to run new companies, Harambe persuaded large firms such as McKinsey & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, and Standard Chartered Bank to provide grants, pro bono services, and expertise to its members and their start-ups. The result: a 31-country assembly of 225 bright young entrepreneurs. (August issue)
Partnerships will lead to development success
Development programs that are locally based, flexible and collaborative often are successful, writes Marshall Stowell. “Tomorrow’s development model looks a lot more like partnership and a lot less like aid,” Stowell argues. Devex.com (free registration) (7/28)
“We learned that development best practices flourish when there is the opportunity to share both success and failure. Our unique model connects locally rooted organizations to a global network of services. Members have access to central systems for procurement — allowing them to benefit from global relationships with vendors and competitive pricing that comes with scale. They also receive support for compliance and financial standards, helping them navigate the complex nature of government donor regulations. Internal audits help minimize corruption and allow for greater impact from donor funds. Network members also benefit from global communications and advocacy efforts that tell the story of how aid is saving lives to important decision-making audiences like members of Congress, Parliament and the general public.”
1 June
Bank-of-CanadaBrett House & James Haga*: Time for Canada to Get Into the Business of Development
The case for a publicly-owned, profit-driven Development Finance Institution
(OpenCanada) As Canada’s federal budget returns to balance, we have room to follow the UK’s lead—not just by increasing our aid dollars, as the Prime Minister’s just-announced CAD$3.5-billion to improve maternal health may do, but also by expanding our development financing toolkit.
Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a publicly-owned, profit-driven Development Finance Institution (DFI) that can provide commercial financing to companies working to build markets, create jobs, and drive growth in emerging countries. It’s time to build a Canadian DFI.
A Canadian DFI wouldn’t disburse grants: it would only provide loans and equity finance on near-market terms for profit-making activities that also help to reduce poverty in developing countries. It would complement aid provided by DFATD for public goods and support from Export Development Canada (EDC) to Canadian traders—not substitute for these activities. … Commercial financing through a DFI addresses specific gaps left by private financial institutions. Business opportunities in developing countries usually come with high risks or back-loaded profits. Most private financial institutions find it too hard or too costly to provide affordable capital under these conditions—or their shareholders, with their narrow focus on quarterly returns, simply won’t let them.
*Director, Policy & Advocacy, at Engineers Without Borders
23 May
Jeffrey Sachs: Why Bill Gates Gets It Wrong
(Project Syndicate) In his review of Nina Munk’s error-filled and out-of-date book, Bill Gates oddly abandons the rigorous approach to measurement and evaluation that defines his foundation’s invaluable work. He simply accepts Munk’s assertion that the Millennium Villages Project – an ongoing development project across more than 20 African countries – has failed. In fact, it is flourishing.
This credulousness is puzzling. Munk’s book covers only a sliver of the first half of a ten-year project, and only two of 12 villages. And she never “lived for extended periods in the Millennium Villages.” Munk spent an average of around six days per year – around 36 days over six years – actually visiting the villages, and usually at a stretch of 2-3 days. Moreover, she came to the story as a reporter for the magazine Vanity Fair, with no training or experience in public health, agronomy, economics, or African development.
Worse, Munk’s observations frequently seem to have been, at the very least, greatly exaggerated for narrative effect.
14 February
Aid, development must converge in responding to crises – UN reports
The rising scale of needs, a collective inability to resolve protracted crises, and the interplay of new factors such as climate change, are making it harder for Governments and aid workers to effectively respond to humanitarian challenges, the United Nations today reported, stressing that development aid must contribute to managing crisis risk.
The report, World Humanitarian Data and Trends 2013, authored by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlights major trends in the nature of humanitarian crises, the underlying causes and drivers, and the actors that participate in crises prevention, response and recovery.
Development aid for health victim of austerity
The economic crisis has significantly affected the part of the development aid budgets allocated to health, except in the UK, EurActiv France reports.
Development aid for health has decreased or is stagnant in a majority of European countries, according to a report by the network of NGOs, Action for Global Health. … The reduction of funds allocated to health is not an isolated trend, given that the overall public aid to development is decreasing.
“Most of the donor countries assessed in this report are reducing their development aid notably because of the economic crisis. In 2012, the overall share of aid dropped to 0.35% and only Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden achieved the 0.7% target,” Bruno Rivalan from an organisation called ‘Global Health Advocates France’ said.
13 February
Exclusive: World Bank aims to boost lending by 50 percent over 10 years
(Reuters) – The World Bank hopes to boost its lending by 50 percent over 10 years by cutting costs, loosening a restriction on how much it can lend, and charging richer nations higher fees for some services, several people familiar with the matter said
The World Bank, a poverty-fighting institution based in Washington, has been undergoing its first major strategic realignment since 1996 to make it more efficient and attuned to what countries need.
Under the new strategy, the bank said it was seeking ways to boost its overall lending portfolio in order to keep itself relevant amid greater competition for development funds.
10 January
Commercial motives driving Canada’s foreign aid, documents reveal
The federal government is evaluating trade and investment opportunities in dozens of developing countries to help determine how foreign aid should be disbursed, raising questions about whether Canada’s push for “economic diplomacy” is an effective way to reduce global poverty.
An internal analysis of bilateral aid programs, produced by the Canadian International Development Agency and obtained by The Globe and Mail, suggests Canada’s commercial interests have become a key consideration in determining how much aid a developing country will receive. The report, titled Reviewing CIDA’s Bilateral Engagement, was written shortly before CIDA was merged with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in June.

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