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Archive for August, 2010

Nation Building Works

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
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Read David Brooks’ latest Op-Ed on nation building in Iraq.

ts-brooks-190“The U.S. venture into Iraq was a war, but it was also a nation-building exercise. America has spent $53 billion trying to reconstruct Iraq, the largest development effort since the Marshall Plan. So how’s it working out?

In short, there has been substantial progress on the things development efforts can touch most directly: economic growth, basic security, and political and legal institutions. After the disaster of the first few years, nation building, much derided, has been a success. When President Obama speaks to the country on Iraq, he’ll be able to point to a large national project that has contributed to measurable, positive results.

Of course, to be honest, he’ll also have to say how fragile and incomplete this success is. Iraqi material conditions are better, but the Iraqi mind has not caught up with the Iraqi opportunity.”

Click here to read the full article.

Shah Visits Floods in Pakistan

Friday, August 27th, 2010
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Shah in Pakistan-Farooq Naeem_AFPOn Wednesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah visited Pakistan to witness the damage caused by severe flooding.  On USAID’s Impact Blog, Shah described his view from the helicopter: “As far as the eye could see, foundations and buttresses supported nonexistent houses and bridges, power lines lay hopelessly tangled on the ground, and roads destroyed and washed away… As I look around me, it is obvious that Pakistan faces the biggest challenge in its 64-year history.”

Shah used the visit as an opportunity to rethink U.S. aid to Pakistan, announcing that some of the funds from the five-year, $7.5 billion aid package will be redirected to assist in flood-related relief and recovery.  Shah showed great flexibility, saying “I fully envision some of the priorities will have to shift, and shift so that there’s more of a recovery and reconstruction focus.”

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Guest Post: Mapping for Results Initiative

Thursday, August 26th, 2010
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The following is a guest post from AidData researchers Alena Stern and Josh Powell.  This post, which first appears on AidData’s First Tranche blog, looks at the Mapping for Results Initiative – a partnership between AidData and the World Bank that analyzes the level of coordination between donors and recipients of aid.  The post specifically explores data from Kenya and Mozambique.  Using geo-referencing technology to examine coordination and distribution levels, the authors argue the data can ultimately be leveraged to facilitate country ownership, or at the very least, open a dialogue between donors and country governments or civil society.  Read the full post after the jump:

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Rieff: Clinton’s “Muddled” Approach to Development

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
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Yesterday, The New Republic foreign policy blog, “Entanglements,” posted a piece by David Rieff examining Secretary Clinton’s recent speech on the Global Health Initiative (GHI) at Johns Hopkins’ SAIS.  Rieff discusses Clinton’s speech in terms of the Obama administration’s approach to development – questioning whether there is enough funding and bureaucratic support to realize the numerous goals Clinton laid out.  Rieff offers a critical review of GHI and other development efforts:  the decision to have three agencies in charge of GHI’s day-to-day operations; policymakers’ claims of development assistance as a tool of “public diplomacy” and a way to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the continued priority funding for military programs.  Despite the critical tone, Rieff raises some interesting points about the overall direction of the Obama administration’s approach to development.  Read full text of the post here and see key excerpts below:

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USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah Speaks at a Global Washington Event

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
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On August 13th, nearly 500 people gathered at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, WA to hear USAID Administrator Shah discuss the role of technology and innovation in development with a panel of leaders from the local development community.   In Administrator Shah’s opening remarks he emphasized USAID’s commitment to evidence-based development strategies and the need for scalable and sustainable solutions.  He was joined on the panel by Congressman Jim McDermott, Congressman Adam Smith, Dr. Akhtar Badshah of Microsoft, Dr. Christopher Elias of PATH, and Dr. Prema Arasu of Washington State University.  Sylvia Mathews Burwell, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, moderated the discussion, which included questions submitted by audience members.  Read more of Global Washington’s recap of the event here and see photos or watch the full event below.