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Archive for the ‘White House’ Category

MFAN Member Calls for Action in Obama’s MDG Speech on Development

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
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Below is a guest blog post from MFAN member Porter McConnell, Policy Advisor for Oxfam America’s Aid Effectiveness team, on President Obama’s speech later today at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit, in which he will outline the new U.S. global development policy:

President Obama: Just another speech, or…

President Obama speechThis week, world leaders are meeting in New York to plot a path to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. President Obama is giving a speech at the summit later today. The question is, will this be just another speech, or will this be the speech of a lifetime?

The Administration first released its plan for the US role in meeting the MDGs in July. This plan is a step in the right direction, but one billion poor people are counting on us to turn those words into action. The President will need to confront some tough choices. It’s time for the American people to hold him accountable for concrete actions to help people around the world beat poverty once and for all.

Thankfully, the US isn’t in this alone: President Obama needs to call on other world leaders to make their own robust plans, and their citizens need to hold them to it. But after world leaders have all packed their bags and returned home, the real work begins. The only way to turn the corner on the MDGs is for the Administration to undertake tough reforms to make our aid work for poor people.

The Administration has made a start:  country ownership is at the heart of the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future, and USAID’s Implementation & Procurement Reform. But to take country ownership from lip service to reality, the Administration and Congress must fix the tangled web of competing agendas that undermine ownership at every turn. That means an overhaul of our Cold-War era foreign assistance legislation, and a seat for USAID on the National Security Council, so our efforts to fight global poverty aren’t diverted to serve narrow diplomatic and security ends. As Ethiopian Minister of Health and Global Fund Chair Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remarked to policymakers this summer, “People say country ownership is confusing. It’s not confusing, it’s actually really clear. What’s missing is the commitment to implement it.”

We must send the message to President Obama that now is not a moment for a symbolic speech, now is the time for urgent action. If the global economic crisis has taught us anything, it’s that global poverty is a fundamental threat to our shared efforts to build a secure, prosperous and just world. Together we must beat global poverty, and the only way we do that is by recognizing that poor people themselves are critical to the solution.

Photo: Pete Souza, WhiteHouse.gov

OMB Watch Calls on Obama to Commit to Aid Transparency at MDG Summit

Monday, September 20th, 2010
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Last week, OMB Watch, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that seeks to increase government transparency and accountability, delivered a letter to President Obama calling for the U.S. government to publicly commit to greater transparency in U.S. foreign aid at this week’s UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

moulton_sm“In the ten years since that historic statement, it has become increasingly clear that money is not all that matters in development,” wrote Sean Moulton, Director of Federal Information Policy at OMB Watch. “Effective and accountable governance are also necessary, the basis of which is transparency.”

Specifically, the letter calls for the administration to:

  • Publicly announce at the MDG Summit a commitment to transparency in U.S. aid and an exhortation for aid transparency globally;
  • Commit to vigorously and expeditiously implement the aid transparency initiative announced in USAID’s MDGs strategy;
  • Ensure the U.S. actively participates in the International Aid Transparency Initiative to ensure the standards deliver for U.S. needs;
  • Explore other appropriate international efforts, such as technical assistance, to improve transparency and coordination in aid;
  • Demand high standards of transparency from international aid institutions to which the U.S. contributes; and
  • Encourage high standards of transparency from recipients of U.S. aid.

The letter echoes recent appeals for aid transparency from other governance and development experts, such as the London Declaration for Transparency, the Free Flow of Information and Development, adopted at an international civil society conference last month. In addition, this week Transparency International released a report calling for transparency to combat corruption, which can stymie progress toward realizing the MDGs. Recent reports from MFAN Partners Publish What You Fund and Oxfam America have focused specifically on the transparency of U.S. aid.

“To achieve the MDGs by 2015, we need to know what actions are being taken and what results are being seen,” Moulton goes on to write. “This requires donor countries, such as the United States, to provide full disclosure of aid flow and activities. It also requires recipient countries and organizations to enhance their own spending transparency.”

Read the full letter here.

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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MFAN Co-Chair Beckmann: “Rhetorical Rubber Meets the Road” on Aid Reform

Friday, August 6th, 2010
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MFAN Co-Chair David Beckmann, World Food Prize laureate and President of Bread for the World, has a new piece on foreign assistance reform, offering two steps President Obama should take now to put the U.S. on a path to more efficient, effective aid — the same two action steps listed in MFAN’s Open Letter, published yesterday.   The op-ed first appeared in The Huffington Post, but find full text of the piece after the jump:

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MFAN Partner Analyzes MDG Strategy from Aid Transparency Angle

Friday, August 6th, 2010
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See the guest blog post below from MFAN Partner Publish What You Fund, one of the 200 signatories to the Open Letter.

Obama Administration Starts Delivering on Aid Transparency

Karin Chirstiansen 218 months in, the Obama administration is starting to deliver on its commitment to transparency within U.S. foreign assistance programs and policy.  On July 30, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled the new U.S. strategy for meeting the Millennium Development Goals “Celebrate, Innovate, and Sustain: Toward 2015 and Beyond”.  We applaud the announcement, which includes launching an ‘aid transparency initiative,’  and look forward to seeing concrete timelines, detailed plans and robust policy that will ensure the potential of this initiative is brought to life.

The Strategy commits to “improving the transparency of aid flows”[i] to address “data shortages, comparability problems [as] large lag times weaken [U.S.] ability to measure progress toward the Goals”[ii]:

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