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Archive for February, 2010

Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S. Shares His Thoughts on Effective Foreign Assistance

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
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Ambassador OgegoAs part of an ongoing dialogue with developing world voices, Kenya’s Ambassador to the U.S., Peter N.R.O. Ogego, recently spoke with MFAN on his experiences working with bilateral and multilateral donors and how to reform foreign assistance and aid programs to have a greater impact at fighting poverty and disease, promoting economic growth and innovation, and creating sustainable, accountable societies and governments.  Ambassador Ogego articulated six principles of aid effectiveness that should be considered when reforming foreign assistance:

  • Greater partnership between donors and recipients of aid. Ambassador Ogego spoke extensively of the problems in the 1970s and 80s in Africa when both bilateral and multilateral aid was provided on a conditional basis with little recipient country consultation, and how the conditionality of aid, as in the Millennium Challenge Corporation model, continues to impact effectiveness.
  • Better coordination among donors in country and inside the beltway. This synchronization of aid efforts needs to be transparent so as not to confuse the recipient country agents.
  • Emphasis on capacity-building. The Ambassador noted that it is not only a question of providing equipment and technicians to jump-start development efforts, but the level at which donors will transfer the technology and skills to local society.
  • Coherent and cohesive assistance policies and programs. Too often donors are unclear in describing their programs and aid packages, which results in wasted energy, resources, and ultimately money.  More fundamentally, he argued these policies should be based on recipient country needs and not donor interest.
  • Flexible time frame. Outstanding circumstances and shifting priorities may affect what kind of aid is needed and when.
  • Standard system of review of aid efforts (or Donor Performance Assessment). The Ambassador suggested that just as outside groups monitor how recipient countries handle aid, the donors themselves should be subject to self-review to determine best practices and streamline efforts.

For the most effective foreign assistance, Ambassador Ogego called on Washington to listen to officials on the ground – including Ambassadors like himself and country directors – and to have the understanding and ability to be flexible in their mission.  To garner more public support for U.S. aid efforts, the Ambassador suggested that the U.S. recognize it’s part of a “global village” and use its abundance of resources and technology to lead a proactive and conscious delivery effort, offering our best to those parts of the world struggling to reach their potential.  After all, a growing, peaceful Kenya is good for the world.

A Conservative Perspective on Foreign Assistance Reform – Part 2

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
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mark_green_profileIn a piece published in The Daily Caller, former Representative Mark Green (R-WI), who also served as Ambassador to Tanzania from 2007-2009, calls on Congress to maintain support for a strong International Affairs Budget and follow through on foreign assistance reform, saying: “…there’s no denying the fiscal challenges that our elected leaders have on their plate. But there’s also no denying how much of a difference our foreign assistance programs are making in key parts of the world. I hope that our leaders keep these thoughts in mind as the budget season—and political season—moves forward.”

Ambassador Green, now the Managing Director of the Malaria No More Policy Center, has spoken out strongly on foreign assistance reform before, including in a video recently posted on the MFAN website and a Washington Times opinion piece last August.

A Conservative’s Perspective on the Importance of Foreign Assistance Reform

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
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Click below to watch a brief interview with Ambassador Mark Green, former Republican Congressman from Green Bay, Wisc. and ambassador to Tanzania. Ambassador Green, currently the Managing Director of the Malaria No More Policy Center in Washington, DC, explains why conservatives should engage in foreign assistance reform and how effective U.S. foreign assistance is in our national interest.

MFAN Named “Leading Coalition” by Foreign Affairs

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
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As part of Foreign Affairs‘ featured Reading Lists, John Gershman rounds up a list of books, reports, journal publications, and websites for “What to Read on Foreign Aid. ”  Included in his list, Gershman cites MFAN as “the leading coalition of organizations in the United States working to reform U.S. foreign aid in line with a more strategic approach to development policy in general.”

A professor with New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Gershman’s list includes the Commitment to Development Index, put out by MFAN partner the Center for Global Development, The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier, and “Where Does the Money Go? Best and Worst Practices in Foreign Aid,” by William Easterly and Tobias Pfutze.

Click here to read Gershman’s full syllabus for foreign aid.

Noteworthy News – 2.12

Friday, February 12th, 2010
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This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

  • One Month Later, Haiti’s Humanitarian Crisis Remains (Huffington Post-Rajiv Shah, February 12) Despite the human challenges, we are working with the Haitian people and their leaders to focus on tomorrow, even as we face enormous challenges.  With this sense of urgency, the United States will continue to work tirelessly with Haiti and our international partners to identify where each country can best contribute, in order to alleviate this humanitarian crisis and lay the foundation for future Haitian development that reduces the impact such disasters have on Haiti’s population.
  • MFAN-related: Aid groups fear Haitian relief diverts funds from other needs (The Washington Post, February 12) Samuel A. Worthington, the president of InterAction, a coalition of more than 150 humanitarian groups, wrote Thursday to top officials at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that he was “deeply concerned about the impact” that reductions would have in other regions.  “We’re working very hard to make sure all our programs can continue full speed ahead,” said Susan Reichle, a top USAID official. She said agency officials had started prioritizing projects in different parts of the world in case the congressional funds are slow to arrive or are less than anticipated.
  • Only Haitians Can Save Haiti ( French, February 11) The well-educated diaspora could lead a remake of the educational system, providing a much-needed model for the rollout of other vital services, from public health to justice to agricultural extension and a new fiscal infrastructure. With international support, such a program could fund the presence of returnees from abroad in small towns and villages across the country for fixed terms of perhaps two or three years, during which time they would staff local schools and train indigenous teachers. This training and hiring of locals would spread opportunity through society while it built capacity for future years.
  • Good Intentions Gone Wrong (The Globe & Mail, February 9) The problems stem from a combination of the overwhelming number of aid groups operating in Haiti and the lack of government capabilities. Haiti has relied on a patchwork of outside assistance organizations for so long that the government has never learned how to deliver services to the country in the best of times. Add to that a massive disaster and a swarm of hands trying to help, and the abundance of good intentions overwhelmed the scarce capacities of the country and the organizations.
  • Rapid city growth threat to Africa’s development: UN (Reuters Africa, February 8) Rapid and chaotic urbanisation is threatening sustainable development in Africa, the head of the U.N. housing agency said on Monday, but taking steps to mitigate climate change could help tackle some of the problems of cities. “After HIV and Aids, the biggest threat to sustainable development in Africa is rapid and chaotic urbanisation, because it is a recipe for disaster for increased tensions and pressure.”