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Mark Your Calendars — Week of September 24

September 20th, 2012
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Every Thursday, MFAN will post a list of upcoming events for the following week. For more information about each event and to RSVP, click on the links below. If your organization is hosting an event next week and you don’t see yourself on the list, please email info@modernizeaid.net. See below for a list of MFAN Partner events:

MFAN Statement: Development Must Play a Larger Role in QDDR Legislation

September 19th, 2012
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September 19, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

MFAN applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for taking the first step toward enshrining the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) into law through the passage of S. 3341. However, we remain concerned that the QDDR, while a valuable exercise in determining the scope and trajectory of U.S. diplomacy and development efforts, fails to give the USAID Administrator a clearly defined leadership role in shaping the development portfolio. We understand that the Secretary has the ultimate authority over the QDDR, but failing to give a co-equal voice to what the President Policy Directive on Global Development refers to as “the U.S. government’s lead development agency” will undermine the goals set forth in the bill and walk back any gains made in elevating the role of development.

In its first iteration released in December 2010, the QDDR strengthened development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy; put development experts in the lead of marquee Obama Administration initiatives; sought to improve monitoring, evaluation, and transparency; and emphasized country ownership as a cornerstone of the U.S. approach to development. Critically, the USAID Administrator served as a co-chair of the review, ensuring that development concerns would have a voice in the dialogue shaping U.S. policy. The Administrator’s absence from S. 3341 sets a troubling precedent for future reviews.

Specifically, MFAN calls for:

  • USAID Administrator to serve as co-chair for the process;
  • The State Department and USAID to consult with other relevant development agencies to ensure a comprehensive assessment of USG development policy; and
  • A joint State-USAID office for the QDDR, rather than an office solely at State to reflect both components of the review.

While S. 3341 rightly seeks to codify a review of U.S. diplomacy and development programs every four years, the lack of emphasis on a strong and independent development voice implies backsliding in our prioritization of U.S. development efforts. The QDDR’s important assertion that “diplomacy and development must be mutually reinforcing” is not well served by the legislation in its current form.

 

MFAN Statement: Lugar-Rubio Bill Signals Commitment to More Transparent, Accountable Foreign Assistance

September 19th, 2012
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September 19, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

In a period of intense political polarization, MFAN is pleased that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came together to pass The Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 3310) earlier today. This bipartisan legislation demonstrates broad agreement that the U.S. has an important role to play overseas and that we can drive better development outcomes with these critical reforms.

S. 3310 was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking (SFRC) Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), with the support of SFRC member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), as a companion measure to H.R. 3159, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) that has garnered 55 cosponsors in the House. Both bills would improve the overall transparency of and accountability for U.S. foreign assistance by establishing a common standard for measuring the performance of programs across every federal agency that administers foreign aid and ensuring that such evaluations and reports are made publicly available to American taxpayers.

S. 3310 builds on bipartisan legislation sponsored by SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Lugar in the 111th Congress (S. 1524)—and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—that sought to increase the accountability and transparency of U.S. foreign assistance. It also reinforces important efforts by the Obama Administration to improve aid transparency, including creating the Foreign Assistance Dashboard to collect comprehensive reporting from each agency engaged in overseas development.

The U.S. approach to development must be a partnership between the executive and legislative branches, and we believe the passage of S. 3310 in SFRC is a strong indication of greater cooperation in the months and years to come. We urge the full Senate to approve this bill before the end of the 112th Congress and look forward to working with members of both the House and Senate on its passage.

 

New ONE Campaign Takes on Malnutrition

September 17th, 2012
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On September 13, ONE kicked off a new campaign aimed at reducing chronic childhood malnutrition. The campaign—which will run through World Food Day in 2013—calls on world leaders to agree to a commitment that would reduce malnutrition for 25 million children by 2016. It is estimated that a billion people suffer from chronic malnutrition and more than three and a half million children will die this year as a result.

The star of ONE’s campaign is the sweet potato. Why? As Roxane Philson, ONE’s global creative director, explains, sweet potatoes “have the power (or shall we say “superpower” since we’re talking about heroes, here) to provide much-needed nutrients like vitamins C, A and B6 to undernourished children, helping to avert stunting and ensuring proper growth. On top of that, sweet potatoes are relatively cheap to produce and easy to grow in uncertain conditions, perfect for regions prone to drought and famine.”

Here is how you can get involved:

The first major day of action is World Food Day, October 16, 2012. Stay tuned as the campaign unfolds!

 

Continually Working Ourselves Out of a Job, One Community at a Time

September 17th, 2012
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See below for a guest blog from John Donnelly in which he describes the success of PROSALUD, a nonprofit healthcare group in Bolivia. This post is part of book from MFAN partner Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This is the fourth post in our field feedback series; click here to read a post from Save the Children in Guatemala, Women Thrive in Ghana, and Oxfam America in Uganda.

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The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) emphasis on building local capacity is a welcomed pillar of USAID Forward reforms because empowering local communities to become strong and capable development stakeholders helps ensure the long-term sustainability of poverty-reducing programs.

Below is one example of how USAID worked through Management Sciences for Health (MSH) to build, nurture, and support a local development stakeholder that is still thriving today. The story was written by global health writer John Donnelly, and first appeared in MSH’s book Go to the People in 2011.

Together with its partners, MSH helps institutions and organizations develop effective leaders, create robust management systems, strengthen pharmaceutical systems, and expand human resources for health to strengthen health systems for greater health impact. MSH looks forward to continuing to work with USAID as it expands its efforts to strengthen local civil society organizations in the developing world. Read more stories from MSH on the Global Health Impact blog.

“We found a role model”

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia – It was a simple ceremony in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, marking the end of a five-year relationship. It felt, in the words of one participant, “like the cutting of the umbilical cord.”

Newly freed were two organizations: MSH and PROSALUD, a nonprofit Bolivian healthcare group. The two had worked intensely together with USAID funding designed to support the local group in building up health systems in Bolivia.

Mission accomplished.

For MSH, that ceremony in 1990 fulfilled one of its fundamental goals: When its work is over, it leaves behind a locally run center of excellence in health care.

For PROSALUD, the ceremony signaled the beginning of being on its own.

Now, more than a quarter-century since the start of the relationship, both organizations look back and see they forged an approach to development that allowed a local organization to prosper.

“It was a moment of celebration, of joy,” Carlos Cuellar, one of the founders of PROSALUD, said as he recalled the long-ago ceremony. “It was not a moment of concern that one side was losing the opportunity to do more business. From our side, it was a moment of uncertainty because of the many challenges left, but we also thought, ‘OK, we need to be on our own.’”

Ron O’Connor, MSH’s founder, says the relationship worked because both sides had the same goal.

“Some of the success was due to MSH’s willingness to recognize good people whose strengths we could support and build on,” he said. “There were highly motivated Bolivians concerned about how to get health care to a wide array of people in Santa Cruz, in the lowlands area in Bolivia. What we really did was orient them: help them organize systems of affordable care and preventive medicine. They organized the community in a way that allowed them to begin on a small scale to provide health care for a low fee.”

PROSALUD soon started securing its own funding from the U.S. government. Even as it Expanded services in Bolivia, it also was advising other nonprofits in other countries on how to operate more efficiently and build stronger health systems.

Today, PROSALUD has created a primary and secondary health care model that works in six of Bolivia’s nine departments, operating 27 clinics, five hospitals, and one child development center. All of its clinics have pharmacies, delivery rooms, waiting rooms, and reception rooms. The clinics and ambulance services operate every hour of the year. And while it is primarily known for providing quality services at a low cost, its reach and accessibility has combined to produce extraordinary numbers in health service delivery: more than 6.7 million medical consultations, more than 2.2 million immunizations, and more than 75,000 births.

When Cuellar looks back at the start of the relationship with MSH, he sees many factors were in alignment.

“We were a group of young people, and we were naïve to believe that we could become an institution and not just a project,” he said. “I was just 30 years old. Most of us were that age. We believed a dream was possible. We were lucky to find a good partner—actually, we found a role model – and MSH was lucky to find people who really believed this was possible; that we could build something that lasts.”

Photo caption: Bolivian nurses (photo credit: MSH).