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Honoring Senator Lugar’s Commitment to Development

January 14th, 2013
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Please see below for a guest post from Jenny Ottenhoff , Policy Outreach Associate at the Center for Global Development.

I’m excited to share that the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Foreign Policy magazine will honor US Senator Richard Lugar with the 2012 Commitment to Development “Ideas in Action” Award.  The award, bestowed annually since 2003, recognizes an individual or organization for changing the attitudes, policies, and practices of the rich world toward the developing world.   While the Senator’s contributions to US foreign policy over his four decades of service are too many to list here, I’ll highlight three attributes that I think illustrate these credentials:

Senator Lugar’s career is marked by a long-view and consideration of challenges that loom beyond most policy horizons.  He was instrumental in the 2009 Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, often called the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill for the three co-authors, which authorized up to $1.5 billion a year for five years for non-military development assistance to Pakistan.  The bill promoted investments in jobs, growth, and democracy building in one of the most critical fronts in the US effort to combat violent extremism.  While dealings between the US and Pakistan has been punctuated by controversy, the bill helped to introduce greater balance to a strategic relationship that has long been dominated by short-to-medium term security concerns.

Senator Lugar was also a leading voice on Capitol Hill for elevating development as a critical tool of US foreign policy alongside defense and diplomacy.  As the Republican leader of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has been instrumental in pushing for a more effective US development strategy and for US foreign assistance programs that promote capacity, accountability, and transparency.   He has also championed US efforts against global hunger, sponsoring legislation that would re-orient US foreign assistance programs to focus on promoting food security and rural development in countries with large, chronically hungry populations.

Finally, Senator Lugar has brought enthusiasm for innovative new solutions to the legislation he proposed and supported. For instance, the Vaccines for the Futures Act – introduced by Senator Lugar in 2007 – looked beyond usual mechanisms to speed the development of vaccines for global killers like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and endorsed new market-based approaches like Advanced Market Commitments (AMCs), which encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines for diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and pneumonia that primarily affect poor countries. This approach has helped to make new pneumococcal vaccines available in 19 countries and is predicted to cover 40 countries by 2015—averting as many as 650,000 deaths within the next four years.

In the words of Moises Naim, Senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and CDA selection committee co-chair: “Senator Lugar sets the bar for American policymakers dedicated to improving US foreign assistance and global development.”

I invite you to join me and members of the selection committee on January 29, 2013 when we present the Senator with the award during a public event at CGD.


Public, Private, and Civil Society Partnerships in Action

January 14th, 2013
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See below for a guest blog from Yasmina Padilla, Food Security Project Coordinator for Save the Children in Nicaragua. This is the eighth post in our field feedback series and the fourth in Save’s “Aid Reform Stories from the Field” series. Click the links to read posts from Save the Children in Guatemala, Malawi, and EthiopiaWomen Thrive in Ghana; Oxfam America in Uganda; Management Sciences for Health in Bolivia; and PATH in Kenya.


Managua, Nicaragua

We like to think of development as a team sport requiring all players to work together toward the same goal. The game gets particularly exciting when you add new players to the team at half time.

Save the Children has served children and families in Nicaragua for almost 80 years. Three years ago, we began partnering with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR), based in Vermont, on a project to increase the income and food security for families of workers on coffee farms. By helping families to diversify their crops, improve storage techniques, and bring crops to market, they can better withstand periods of food scarcity during the months between coffee harvests.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the partnership two years ago, adding an ambitious health component through their regional “4th Sector Health” project. Implemented by Abt Associates, 4th Sector Health develops public-private partnerships and supports exchanges between countries to advance development through health in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Nicaragua, 4th Sector Health is working with Save the Children and GMCR, along with local civil society partners, to boost maternal and child health and nutrition for the same coffee-growing communities.

USAID’s 4th Sector Health also recently funded an experience-sharing trip for Save the Children staff from five Latin American countries, who were involved in implementing GMCR-funded projects. The participants learned from each other’s experiences and are replicating best practices in their own programs, serving to increase their impact and sustainability.

The alliance between USAID, Save the Children, and GMCR is intended to maximize the use of resources and help identify new solutions to challenges affecting these communities. Sometimes the alliance organizations face challenges of their own—coordinating work plans, reporting on technical outcomes, and carrying out their separate missions.

Public-private partnerships, otherwise known as the “Golden Triangle,”are a hot topic in the field of international development. Donors like USAID have invested millions of dollars in partnerships with the private sector, yet some development experts have questioned the development impact of such partnerships in achieving real benefits for the poor and marginalized in developing countries.

As part of its recent reform efforts, USAID has put more attention towards improving its public-private partnership model. For one, USAID is including technical experts in health and nutrition such as Save the Children in some partnerships, recognizing that U.S. civil society groups lend valuable expertise in maternal-child health and other technical areas. Moreover, USAID is steering the private sector towards achievement of concrete development targets through their partnerships, as well as ensuring that companies are held to certain standards, such as respect for workers and environmental stewardship.

From my perspective, this alliance between Save the Children Nicaragua, USAID, and GMCR, is having a transformative impact on the communities in which it operates.

Photo Credit: Gerardo Aráuz

Martha Lorena Diaz is one of many enterprising women working with us, whose partner, Jose Manuel Benavidez, is a coffee farmer on a cooperative that sells to GMCR. Martha was initially given five hens and now keeps 40 in her small business, earning about one dollar a day from selling the eggs and chickens. Save the Children project training sessions have helped Martha to identify nutritious sources of food for her three children, particularly during the lean months when she struggles to provide enough food for them. Martha now makes a corn flour drink to boost her childrens’ daily vitamin intake. Moreover, health promoters, trained by Save the Children, visit her neighborhood and others to monitor child health and nutrition and treat sick children in their communities, which are often far from the closest health center.

Successful partnerships, such as the one between USAID, GMCR, and Save the Children Nicaragua, are critical to achieving lasting results in the communities that we all serve. With an increase in USAID’s partnerships with private sector and NGO players, who are committed to making a real difference in the lives of families in Nicaragua and elsewhere, I believe our team will prevail.


ONE’s Video Series Tells Truth about Foreign Aid

January 11th, 2013
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As advocates for more effective foreign assistance, MFAN understands the critical role our aid programs have had in alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and promoting opportunity for millions struggling in the developing world. We also understand that these programs, which make up just 1 percent of our budget, are investments for a more prosperous, secure world.

It’s encouraging to see that, when given the facts, most Americans agree.

Over the past year, the ONE Campaign went around the country interviewing everyday Americans to ask what they thought about foreign aid. As Meagan Bond, ONE’s creative manager writes, “I met small business owners struggling to stay afloat, stay-at-home moms, students, bankers, roofers, truck drivers, teachers, youth ministers, and a man staying at a local shelter while he looked for a new job.

The results of these interviews are captured in their new “Man on the Street” video series. In each of the different locations, the responses were overwhelmingly similar: they thought the U.S. spent too much on foreign aid, until they were given the facts. See one of the videos below:

What were the facts? ONE shared that foreign aid made up less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget and had helped to accomplish some pretty amazing things, including getting 8 million people on life-saving AIDS medication and helping more than 1 billion people through smarter agricultural programs.

Once given these facts, people quickly moved from being skeptical to supportive and even glad to hear that their tax dollars were helping to bring about such positive change.

ONE is asking people to share these videos far and wide to help educate Americans on the facts of foreign aid—and MFAN encourages you to do the same. When more people understand the small percent of the budget we spend on foreign aid—and the outsized impact these programs have—it will be easier to make the case for continued support and continued American leadership on foreign aid.


Pres. Joyce Banda Discusses Women’s Health and Empowerment with CSIS

January 10th, 2013
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See below for a guest post and video from Janet Fleischman and Julia Nagel, both of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). They recently sat down for an interview with Malawi’s first female president, Joyce Banda, to talk about the importance of women’s health and empowerment.


When Joyce Banda unexpectedly ascended to the presidency of Malawi last April, after the death of President Mutharika, many in her country and around the world wondered what her impact would be as Malawi’s first female president. Among the many challenges, her government faces high rates of maternal mortality, high total fertility rates, and high HIV prevalence among women and girls, combined with low levels of women’s economic empowerment and widespread violence against women.

CSIS wanted to learn more about how women leaders in Africa are bringing new attention to women’s health and empowerment in their own countries, and to bring those voices into the discussion about US policy priorities for women’s global health. To do this, we sent a small team to Malawi and Zambia in December 2012.

During an interview with President Banda in Malawi, which we have turned into this short video, we were able to ask her about these issues. Her response underscored the exciting prospects raised by her tenure as well as the daunting challenges ahead.

President Banda was especially passionate that the economic empowerment of women is an essential step to ensure that there is effective family planning: “it is only when a woman is economically empowered that she can negotiate at household level with her husband about the number of children that body of hers can have.”

President Banda went on to describe her own compelling personal story of the vital link between education for girls and economic empowerment for women, against a backdrop of violence against women. “I had three children, in an abusive marriage. And then finally I said, no. I have to walk out. For the sake of my children… So for me when I talk about the importance of economic empowerment of women, it’s because I tried it.”

In Malawi, we saw a woman wearing a T-shirt celebrating the first 100 days of JB’s presidency. Banda’s supporters expressed hope about the positive changes underway, from public works projects to the re-engagement of key international donors, to a new initiative on maternal mortality. But even her most ardent supporters acknowledge that real change will take time. Their optimism is being sorely tested by Malawi’s tough economic and social and realities, including a legacy of corruption, autocracy and mismanagement.

Yet President Banda made clear to us that she will “stay the course.” As she explained: “while I’m trying to bring the country back on track, I’m also very mindful of my mission – to make sure that I continue to empower women… So for me, that is what being a leader is all about.”


Who Do YOU Think Should Serve on the Global Development Council?

January 7th, 2013
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Just before the holidays, the White House announced nominations for nine of the twelve seats on the President’s Global Development Council. As you recall, the Council—established by executive order last February—was originally called for in the 2010 Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6).

Click here to see the nine individuals appointed to the Council so far.

As MFAN Principal Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Project at the Center for Global Development, writes, “The line-up so far pulls in research, private sector and philanthropic expertise and does not include operational or advocacy organizations (which may be a smart move to avoid conflict of interest with organizations who receive federal dollars for aid programs).”

Though the President is not obligated to fill all twelve slots, we’re interested to hear who you think should fill the remaining three seats.

Who else should be on the Global Development Council? Let us know by:

Send us your suggestions by January 14.

Once we’ve gotten enough suggestions, we will ask you to take our poll and vote on who you think should be on the Council. The names of the three individuals with the most votes will then be shared with the White House.

We look forward to collecting your nominations!