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Mark Your Calendars — Week of December 10

December 6th, 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

See below for a list of MFAN Partner events:

  • Wednesday 12/12 12:00: Press Conference by Rep. Howard Berman: Global Partnerships Act of 2012



UNDP takes another step to enhance transparency

December 4th, 2012
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See below for a guest post from Will Davis, Director of the UNDP Washington Representation Office, in which he describes the UNDP’s new online portal. This new site is a great example of how a leading organization is implementing the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards and taking important steps to be more transparent and accountable for results.


The ongoing efforts of the UN Development Program (UNDP) to enhance the transparency of its global operations took a major step forward last week with the launch of a new online portal— The portal enables the public to track comprehensive data on more than 6,000 projects budgeted through 2011 in 177 countries and territories worldwide, along with more than 8,000 outputs or results.

From Washington to Tokyo, donor governments and their citizens understand that transparency in the flow of aid is critical to effective, efficient delivery. It means greater accountability at every level, limiting waste and ensuring aid gets to those who need it most. MFAN and its members have long championed the essential need for aid transparency, and UNDP and its Administrator, Helen Clark, share this view, to the point that UNDP has been widely recognized as a leader in the UN system for its sustained open-data efforts and graded as a top-10 organization by Publish What You Fund.

Ms. Clark has called transparency “a top priority for UNDP and a vital element in maintaining the trust vested in us by the public and our partners.”

The portal’s landing page lists donors, followed by a breakdown of where UNDP funding goes. Multiple filters on the right allow sorting by country, donor, focus area, and region. Users can sort projects by focus areas, funding sources, and locations and extract detailed data related to budgets, implementing organizations, and targeted results in areas from governance and rule of law to crisis prevention and recovery.

These data reflect budgeted contributions and expenditures through 2011, including some projects that are now closed. Data will be updated quarterly beginning in the new year, and our transparency team will continue upgrading and expanding this portal with real-time data, including photos from the field, going forward.

Our new open-data portal was financed by a grant from the United States, a key UNDP partner worldwide in supporting our work on democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and more peaceful, prosperous communities. The portal helps fulfill UNDP’s commitment to achieve levels of transparency by 2013 that are above and beyond international standards.

UNDP created the portal as part of its implementation of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). While the portal was financed by a $225,000 U.S. contribution, the overall IATI effort is funded through UNDP’s core budget. UNDP, a founding member of IATI, committed to full adoption of the common aid transparency standard by 2013 to ensure publication of financial data and project information in the most transparent and accessible way.

Initial responses to the portal have been overwhelmingly positive. UNDP welcomes comments and suggestions as we continue to expand and streamline the portal, and continually augment our efforts to make UNDP’s work as open and transparent as possible.


Building resilience in the Horn of Africa

December 3rd, 2012
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See below for a guest blog from Abomsa Kebede, Technical Advisor for Save the Children in Ethiopia. This post describes the benefits of USAID’s new resilience strategy, which was unveiled today. This is the seventh post in our field feedback series and the third in Save’s “Aid Reform Stories from the Field” series. Click the links to read posts from Save the Children in Guatemala and MalawiWomen Thrive in Ghana, Oxfam America in Uganda, Management Sciences for Health in Bolivia, and PATH in Kenya.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Two-year-old Lokko Godana drinks cow’s milk every morning. The milk is rich in proteins and vitamins, providing Lokko the nutrition she needs to supplement a daily diet of maize porridge. Lack of access to animal milk was the primary cause of her malnutrition last year when the drought slowed cow milk production in the southern pastoral areas of Ethiopia. With supplementary feeding for the cattle, milk production increased and Lokko’s health improved.

Malnutrition accounts for 53 percent of infant and child deaths in Ethiopia and children in pastoralist communities are among the most nutritionally vulnerable in the country due to recurrent and prolonged periods of drought. The lack of rainfall devastates fodder and water sources for cattle and other animals, decreasing milk production and putting children under five at risk of severe malnutrition.

For decades, Save the Children Ethiopia has been working with pastoralist families in Ethiopia to help them plan for, manage, and recover from drought emergencies. While we cannot stop droughts, there are successful strategies to lessen their impact.

One significant challenge in responding early to a severe drought is getting needed resources to communities fast. Speed is critical to preventing malnutrition. In the past, to receive disaster-related funding, Save the Children and other groups had to make new applications for funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donors, which often takes weeks or even months to process. This has been necessary because USAID and other donors historically have run emergency and development programs on separate tracks with separate funding sources, application processes, and program objectives. This has meant that even when we see a drought coming, we don’t typically have the flexibility to reprogram resources or receive new resources quickly in order to avert severe hunger and lack of nourishment, despite having existing relationships and funding mechanisms in place.

USAID is changing this way of working. Today USAID will unveil a new resilience strategy to support chronically risk-prone communities in between, before and after the repeat cycles of disaster. Furthermore, the agency will begin to broadly apply instruments, such as the “crisis modifier”, to quicken the pace of disaster response in the Horn of Africa and in other regions. The crisis modifier is a program component written into a cooperative agreement targeting drought-prone areas. USAID has integrated this option into development programs to reduce the processing and approval for emergency funding, even before a disaster strikes.

USAID already has implemented the crisis modifier successfully in my country for years. For example, in a project that I help manage, called “Pastoral Livelihoods Initiative,” or PLI, funded by USAID, the crisis modifier can make the difference between life and death for livestock – and malnutrition for kids. When the drought hits, the crisis modifier allows emergency programs to begin immediately by adding funds provided by USAID’s “Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance” (OFDA), to our existing PLI grant enabling Save the Children and our project partners to address the crisis early and limit its effects. The emergency funds help to prevent livestock loss through activities such as supplementary livestock feeding and commercial destocking to help families sell livestock ahead of a drought and then replace them after the drought. In response to the emergency in 2011, USAID programmed approximately $1.6 million through the crisis modifier to the consortium led by Save the Children under the second phase of the PLI project. As a result, this project was able to lessen the impact of the drought for more than 180,000 people.

USAID is not planning to create a new bureau to implement their resilience agenda, but instead will bring all bureaus together—OFDA, Food for Peace, Global Health, Food Security, Climate Change and others—to do more joint problem solving and planning. Instead of sending multiple teams out to target countries to complete separate analyses and action plans, USAID has launched “joint planning cells” from these bureaus to connect staff in the field and in Washington. These joint planning cells set objectives, design projects, and develop procurements around the same problems of community vulnerability, looking at both immediate and long term needs. This joint approach appears to be paying dividends.

While recognizing that the resilience approach, crisis modifier, and joint planning cells are not yet standard practice across USAID programs, I believe they show good progress in the right direction. While developed initially for the case of Ethiopia, USAID is looking for ways to introduce the crisis modifier to other disaster-prone countries around the world. Just in the Horn of Africa, USAID is seeking to directly benefit 10 million people and reduce the numbers of people that need emergency assistance by one million over five years through resilience-focused programming.

We as Ethiopians feel that our government and local institutions should increasingly lead, manage, and apply these disaster risk management techniques in a way that is most appropriate for our communities. Moreover, we need to create early warning systems for livestock crises and community-based resilience funds that are coordinated with the Ethiopian government’s emergency response. Already the Ethiopian government has adopted some PLI best practices in its national emergency livestock guidelines.

USAID must play a strong leadership role with the Ethiopian government and other donors to ensure that resilience is not just another fad but a meaningful and sustainable step forward in changing how all national and global institutions address recurrent crises. Kids like Lokko are counting on it.



Mark Your Calendars — Week of December 3

November 29th, 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

See below for a list of MFAN Partner events:



Secretary Clinton talks development at the MCC

November 29th, 2012
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Secretary Clinton addressed the MCC this week, commending the agency for their strong leadership in U.S. development efforts, saying the “MCC’s model showcases some of our best thinking about how to do development for the 21st century, and has helped to set the stage for the Administration’s approach for development, because at a time when we must look for the way to maximize the impact of every dollar that we spend on development, we often turn to MCC for information and inspiration”.

She also hinted as to what the development agenda under President Obama’s second term may hold, emphasizing that partnership and accountability will continue to be  priorities over the next four years.