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Archive for October, 2009

Save the Date: 3 Events to Watch Out For

Friday, October 30th, 2009
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Get out your calendars and take note of the following upcoming events to support MFAN and the larger development community:


*TODAY.  Friday, October 30th 5-7 PM at the School of International Service Lounge, American University

This evening, the International Development Program Student Association (IDPSA) of American University presents “Reforming U.S. Humanitarian Aid,” part of its Friday Forum series.  Panelists include MFAN Principal Sam Worthington, President of InterAction, and Kathleen Campbell of Save the Children, as well as Steve Feldstein, Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffperson and Charlie Flickner, retired staffperson subcommittee of Foreign Operations in the House.  The panel will be moderated by Don Krumm, senior advisor at USAID.

For more information, see Reforming US Humanitarian Aid-Oct 30 09.


Thursday, November 5th 2-3:30 PM at Rayburn HOB 2200

Save the Children will host a panel discussion, “Modernizing Foreign Assistance:  Insights from the Field,”  in which panelists will discuss their findings from interviewing aid stakeholders and researching foreign aid trends in Haiti, Bangladesh, and Liberia.  Panelists include Polly Byers, former senior coordinator at the State Department and previous senior inter-agency policy advisor at USAID, and Alice Burt, research consultant at Save the Children.  The panel will be moderated by associate vice president and chief policy advisory for Save the Children and MFAN Principal Ambassador Michael Klosson.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact 202-640-6636 or


Monday, December 7th 6 PM reception, 7 PM dinner at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC

For its 2009 Tribute dinner, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition will honor Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for her career in public service and commitment to using smart power and promoting diplomacy and development in foreign policy decisions.  Master of Ceremonies for the evening is Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent, NBC, and the dinner is co-chaired by James A. Bell and Richard Stearns.

Click here for the official invitation and more information.  Please note the cost of the dinner, and RSVP by November 20th.

Noteworthy News- 10.30

Friday, October 30th, 2009
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This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

What we’re reading:  Development creeps into Afghanistan dialogue; food security ahead of a new study.

  • What we can achieve in Afghanistan (Washington Post-Robert Zoellick, October 30)First, we need to “secure development” — that is, create a strong link between security and development. Each reinforces the other, especially when we focus on communities and on resolving local-level conflict.  Third, locally led projects are the most effective. The National Solidarity Program, which the World Bank helped launch in 2003, empowers more than 22,000 elected, village-level councils to decide on their development priorities — from building a school to irrigation to electrification. So far, the program has reached more than 19 million Afghans in 34 provinces, with grants averaging $33,000. Development owned by the community can survive amid conflict: When an NSP-funded school was attacked in August 2006, the villagers defended it. The community councils also help build cooperation among villages and with the government.
  • More Schools, Not Troops (The New York Times-Nick Kristof, October 29)  Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.  The aid organization CARE has 295 schools educating 50,000 girls in Afghanistan, and not a single one has been closed or burned by the Taliban.
  • Lew: No surge of civilians in Afghanstan after review (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, October 26)  “The idea of getting our foreign assistance as directly to the people who are going to use it as efficiently as possible is central to the way we’re thinking about foreign assistance and development generally,” Lew said, adding that since many of the contracts were up for renewal at the beginning of October, it gave the impression this transfer was more immediate and widespread than it necessarily was.  Robin Raphel, the former Ambassador now a part of Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke’s staff, is in Pakistan right now leading a case by case review of all of these projects, Lew said.
  • Food, Humanity, Habitat and How We Get to 2050 (The New York Times, October 28)  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, feeding humanity in 2050 — when the world’s population is expected to be 9.1 billion — will require a 70 percent increase in global food production, partly because of population growth but also because of rising incomes. The question isn’t whether we can feed 9.1 billion people in 2050 — they must be fed — or whether we can find the energy they will surely need. The question is whether we can find a way to make food and energy production sustainable in the broadest possible sense — and whether we can act on the principle that our interest includes that of every other species on the planet.

MFAN Partners Save and Oxfam Release Reports on Aid Effectiveness

Friday, October 30th, 2009
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Save the ChildrenOxfam

On Tuesday October 27th, Save the Children published its fifth country study – Modernizing Foreign Assistance: Insights from Liberia.   The Report highlights the political nature of USAID as well as the breadth and scope of development resources that the United States can bring to assist a developing nation, and notes that coordination is relatively strong amongst U.S. government agencies physically present in Liberia.

Key findings from the new report include:

  • coherent, wide-ranging use of foreign policy tool kit
  • strong coordination between U.S. government agencies with a presence in Liberia
  • transition from humanitarian assistance to development assistance
  • flexibility of funding mechanisms
  • strengthening capacity of government
  • inadequate support to local NGOs capacity building
  • multi-donor trust funds

As part of its ongoing Ownership campaign, Oxfam’s Aid Effectiveness team released a new study on transparency between local governments and USAID in Indonesia.  While formulating the national budget, USAID helped local governments seek community input in the process by training civil society organizations and encouraging public availability of the final budget.

The report offers three lessons that could be applied to U.S. foreign assistance reform:

1. Publish full and timely information about US foreign aid so that recipient country citizens and their governments (not to mention US taxpayers) can access it.

2. Sign on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and work with other donors to share crucial information with host country citizens and governments.

3. Make US foreign aid more predictable, providing countries with regular information about our three-to-five year aid plans.

Will We Have a USAID Administrator by Year’s End? Take the Poll Today!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
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MFAN Principal and senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Development (CGD) Sheila Herrling launched a poll today on the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance blog asking individuals whether they think we will have a much-needed U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator by the end of the year given the Senate confirmation process.  Herrling lays out a detailed and compelling timeline of all that needs to fall into place, including the vetting process, in order for the confirmation to occur by December 14th, the last possible week for a confirmation hearing.

Building on MFAN’s earlier poll asking the public to vote for their choice to lead USAID, Herrling also moves the conversation forward with new questions:

  • Will the Administration have a candidate nominated and ready to send to the Hill by November 10th?
  • Should the Administration aim to fill the USAID Administrator vacancy as quickly as possible, limiting itself to an already-vetted candidate?

Do you think we can get a USAID Administrator before the end of the year? Take the poll and include a message explaining your vote.

Top Nations Rank Poorly in 2009 CDI Index

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
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CDI 2009.jpgToday the Center for Global Development released its latest Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 22 of the world’s richest countries based on their dedication to policies that benefit the developing world.  The index is unique in that it measures national efforts in seven key policy areas:  aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology.

For 2009 CDI, none of the most industrialized countries in the world — commonly referred to as the G7 — ranked in the top ten.  Canada, ranked 11th, was the highest among the G7 countries, with France, Germany and the United Kingdom all tied for 12th. The United States ranked  17th on the index, just beating out Italy (18th) and Japan (21st).  Collectively, the G7 countries did best in the investment and trade and worst in the aid and migration policy areas.

Center for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall commented, “The CDI ranks wealthy nations on whether they are living up to their potential, given their own resources, to help through trade, investment, foreign aid and other linkages… But it is the United States, Germany, France, Japan and the other economies that have the multiple linkages and potential in absolute terms to make a difference for poor countries. Their failure to use it to the fullest is a blow to the cause of truly shared global prosperity.”

Below is a summary of the U.S. performance in the index:

United States: U.S. barriers against developing countries’ agricultural exports are lower than those of most CDI countries, and the United States provides the most protection of sea lanes important for international trade. But the United States finishes near the bottom of the rankings in both the foreign aid and environment components. U.S. foreign aid is small as a share of its income and it ties a large share of this aid to the purchase of U.S. goods and services. The United States also has the lowest gasoline taxes and among the highest greenhouse gas emission rates per person. It is the only CDI country that has not signed the Kyoto Protocol.

The entire CDI report can be found at

CDI is a valuable study that underscores the need for reform of foreign assistance policies and programs among the richest nations, but particularly in the United States.  The U.S. should look to this study and its ranking as a sign that the processes underway including the PSD, the QDDR, and legislation in the House and Senate are necessary and timely.  And to be sure that foreign assistance reform strengthens development so the U.S. can restore its leadership in the fight against global poverty and disease.