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Posts Tagged ‘civil society’

More Perspectives on Obama’s Global Development Policy

Friday, September 24th, 2010
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Below is a variety of commentary and analysis from MFAN partners and the broader development community regarding President Obama’s new development policy.

InterAction’s analysis applauds many elements of the PPD and suggests the following to ensure its success:Print

• Recognition that true country ownership goes beyond governments to include consultation and engagement of civil society down to the community level.

• Capacity building of local institutions and civil society.

• Not losing sight of the importance of bottom-up interventions that address basic human needs such as adequate food, clean water, shelter, access to health care, literacy and improved opportunities for women and girls.

jkunder93pxMFAN Principal James Kunder, Senior Resident Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States writes about Foreign Aid Reform in the United States: Trying to Have it Both Ways. Read key excerpts below and click here to view the post in full.

“The reason the U.S. government does not operate its current foreign aid programs in the rational paradigm President Obama described at the United Nations has to do with bureaucratic political power, plain and simple.  As control of U.S. development policy has gravitated over the past several decades — slowly, inevitably, under both parties’ leadership — from USAID to the Department of State, U.S. foreign aid has increasing been colored by the interests of priority nations, a shorter-term perspective, more American flag-waving, more program priorities that will please domestic audiences in the U.S., and a predilection for broadening the categories of foreign aid.”

“This tendency does not suggest that U.S. State Department officials are malign or misguided.  They, in their oversight of U.S. foreign assistance, simply behave as diplomats and foreign ministries have always behaved:  Their priorities are queued up in terms of attaining foreign policy ends, and foreign aid is just one — albeit an important one — of the tools in their toolkit.  In this logic, a long-term, rational, broad-based economic development plan in a well-governed, but obscure, nation will always get cut before the foreign aid program in a strategically placed ally in the counterinsurgency realm.”

“Now, if President Obama intended to change this reality with his UN remarks and Presidential Policy Directive, then the inspirational rhetoric about USAID being a “premier” development agency would have been matched by some real political power, so that rationalized U.S. foreign aid programs could hold their own in the inevitable bureaucratic and budgetary tussles.”

USGLC-300x103The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s analysis of the new development policy highlights the establishment of an Interagency Policy Committee, the role of Congress, and the administration’s three signature initiatives. USGLC’s analysis says, “The policy established an Interagency Policy Committee led by the National Security Staff and responsible to NSC Deputies and Principals. This represents a serious commitment of White House time and attention to development issues, as opposed to monitoring only crisis situations.”

“The new policy acknowledges the role Congress plays in setting development policy, and pledges to work cooperatively with Congress in making funding for development more flexible and effective. It specifically seeks to ‘forge a new and lasting bipartisan consensus on development policy within the broader context of our National Security Strategy.’”

KolbeJim177pxJim Kolbe, a Senior Transatlantic Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Principal of MFAN authored a blog titled, Millennium Development Goals: Reality or Illusion?

Kolbe says, “But even if donor fatigue is not evident, if foreign aid flows continue at a steady or even an increased rate, will measurable changes in the development outcomes result in sustainable changes in the lives of people in the less-developed countries?  Are the goals, clustered as they are around functional and measurable indices, really a good measure of economic growth and prosperity?”

rsz_sherine_for_blogSherine Jayawickrama at The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University discusses a few elements of the policy (as we know it) that give her pause:

  • “the placement of development within the framework of the U.S. national security strategy (but I realize that wishing for development to be pursued for its own sake might be politically naive)
  • the intent to be more selective about where it works, focusing on countries that are well governed, etc. (isn’t the need for development more acute in the opposite case?)
  • the focus on game-changing innovation is welcome but it seems to refer mainly to new technologies (innovations in social mobilization, policy formulation or behavior change – just to name a few – can be as important)”

Jayawickrama says, “With this policy directive signed, the focus now shifts to the really hard part: operationalizing it.  A significant factor in the policy’s success will be the extent to which USAID can be strengthened and elevated into a premier development agency.  That will depend importantly on the Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review (QDDR) that is now several months delayed.  Stay tuned!”

How GHI can boost foreign assistance reform

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
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A Guest Post by the Global Health Council

On May 5, 2009, President Obama announced a six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI) which called for the U.S. to develop an integrated and comprehensive global health strategy that moves away from the fragmented and disease-specific approaches of the past. The GHI is meant to maintain the U.S.’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria, while scaling up programs in maternal and child health, family planning and neglected tropical diseases.

The announcemeGHC Logo 1nt of the GHI came at a time when the debate over how to modernize and reform the U.S. approach to foreign assistance and global health and development had begun in full force. Global health is a critical piece of U.S. foreign assistance, and it is critical that the reforms that are hopefully on the horizon be developed hand-in-hand in a way that fits GHI seamlessly into the new foreign assistance framework, and that foreign assistance reform creates a favorable environment for the GHI to have the greatest possible impact on improving global health.

This is an opportune time, therefore, to look at the GHI’s potential to impact U.S. foreign assistance reform and, to that end, the Global Health Council, the International Women’s Health Coalition and PATH are pleased to launch this joint blog series hosted by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN). This blog provides an overview and is the first of a series that will be posted on ModernizeAid and elsewhere over the next several weeks.

The GHI responds to the top priority of the Global Health Council and its members, as expressed in a letter the Council   sent to the Obama Transition Team in November 2008: “The Obama Administration should quickly advance a comprehensive, 5-year global health policy framework … The current U.S. approach to global health is a pastiche of programs and policies housed in various departments and agencies or presidential initiatives … Most of the affected populations need health services for multiple diseases and conditions, but U.S. programs are fragmented in design and delivery – so a poor person in Africa could receive U.S.-funded AIDS treatment drugs and not be tested for the TB infection that will compound his or her illness and may well prove fatal … The lack of an overarching global health policy framework with clear goals results in practices where progress in one area is often undermined by neglect in another and investments are not necessarily directed to the issues imposing the greatest health burdens or the populations in most need.”PATH_logoThe GHI, as articulated by the Obama Administration, addresses many of these concerns. It also embodies basic objectives of foreign assistance reform efforts — increasing coordination among U.S. agencies, moving towards country-led/country-owned programs to build sustainability, better coordinating with other donors and improving results/metrics via improved monitoring and evaluation.  The Global Health Council strongly supports the GHI and its potential to impact the larger U.S. foreign assistance reform effort positively. The principles of the GHI, as outlined in the government’s “Global Health Initiative Consultation Document” http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/home/Publications/docs/ghi_consultation_document.pdf, respond to many of our concerns about the current system:

  • Implement a woman- and girl-centered approach
  • Increase impact through strategic coordination and integration
    • Strengthen and leverage key multilateral organizations, global health partnerships and private sector engagement
    • Encourage country ownership and invest in country-led plans
    • Build sustainability through health systems strengthening
    • Improve metrics, monitoring and evaluation
    • Promote research and innovation

The right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the principles of non-discrimination and equality, participation and accountability, is universally recognized as fundamental to human dignity, freedom, and well-being. We believe that the Global Health Initiative aims to secure this right in the following critical areas:

First, it’s necessary to coordinate and leverage funding for health services. Individual countries are obliged to provide international development assistance and cooperation, and not interfere in the realization of the right to health in other countries. Secondly, it’s vital to meaningfully engage civil society and the private sector. Engaging civil society can create a political base for the most effecIHWCtive programming and implementation choices, and, on that basis, health outcomes. Civil society will also hold governments responsible and accountable for financial and political commitments made. Finally, it is necessary to maximize existing resources and build strong health systems that deliver integrated services for all, particularly poor women and children.

We are optimistic about the Global Health Initiative because we see, at its core, a commitment to these areas that we know are vital to a just and healthy life. In this series, launched here, we will explore how the Global Health Initiative might achieve great strides in these areas through its women-centered approach, its focus on country ownership and civil society engagement, its philosophy of integration and strengthening health systems and its investment in quality research, innovation and evaluation.

We hope you will join us for this series and contribute to the conversation. Feel free to start the discussion by posting your comment below.

Bono Oped in New York Times

Monday, April 19th, 2010
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bono_art-popupBono– lead singer of the band U2 — is a regular contributor for The New York Times.  On Sunday, he published an oped about his March trip to western, southern, and eastern Africa.  In it, he makes a few interesting observations about new partnerships, particularly among civil society and businesses.  Read the full piece after the jump and let us know what you think about his statement:  “I sense the end of the usual donor-recipient relationship.”

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