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Posts Tagged ‘development’

Tweet Stream: Panel Explores Future of U.S. Development Efforts

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
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Yesterday, the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on the U.S. global development reform agenda, with participants noting opportunities and challenges for future reform efforts. The event, “The United States and Global Development: An Approach in Transition,” was moderated by MFAN co-chair and Brookings senior fellow George Ingram. Panelists included: Sheila Herrling, vice president in the Department of Policy and Evaluation at the Millennium Challenge Corporation; Steven Radelet, distinguished professor in the practice of development at Georgetown University; Susan Reichle, assistant to the administrator at the Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Connie Veillette, consultant and MFAN principal.

Watch a video or listen to audio of the event here.

In case you missed the event, take a look at MFAN’s live tweet stream (@ModernizeAid) in reverse chronological order:

  • Reichle @USAID hopes that we strengthen a constituency for US development over the next four years #USDevReform
  • Connie Veillette’s 1 wish is a well-written foreign assistance authorization bill #USDevReform
  • Reichle @USAID asks how do we connect youth around the world and help them to focus to achieve big results together #USDevReform
  • Radelet: challenge is to move from model where traditional development funders are the risk-sharers. #USDevReform
  • Connie Veillette makes call for coalition to support more effective & efficient food aid, and not give in to special interests #USDevReform
  • Conversation switches gears briefly to address food aid reform #USDevReform
  • Herrling says President’s state of the union speech was huge moment for development #USDevReform
  • Reichle @USAID says the agency will move 11 missions into new engagement strategy in FY14 budget #USDevReform
  • Veillette: unless experts make decisions about what should/should not be cut, the non-experts will make those decisions #USDevReform
  • Connie Veillette: admin has not made great strides in being more selective with development programs #USDevReform
  • Radelet: (2/2) and have these agencies, USAID & MCC, be seen as stronger, more effective in the eyes of taxpayers & the Hill #USDevReform
  • Radelet: (1/2) model for change is to focus on a set of key reforms…#USDevReform
  • Reichle @USAID says reform efforts are really taking hold in the field and they are institutionalizing core competencies #USDevReform
  • @GMIngramIV asks for a preview of the upcoming USAID Forward progress report — coming mid-March! #USDevReform
  • Herrling: we see a real focus on monitoring and evaluation and being transparent about this, even when it comes with risks. #USDevReform
  • Sheila Herrling @MCCtweets talks about partnership for growth initiative and figuring out “how” to implement reform #USDevReform
  • Veillette: need more clarification about how development is distinct from diplomacy and defense, esp for Congress #USDevReform
  • Connie Veillette: I don’t think reforms are spreading beyond USAID to other agencies #USDevReform
  • Radelet @georgetownsfs says to stop calling for USAID admin to have seat on natl security council; have strong representation #USDevReform
  • Radelet: final issue is transparency and openness #USDevReform
  • Radelet: second issue is procurement reform. If done right, this could fundamentally help our partners in developing countries #USDevReform
  • Steve Radelet: most important thing is to ensure strong implementation of reform agenda already in place #USDevReform
  • Reichle @USAID: we elevated development by focusing on results, take Feed the Future for ex #USDevReform
  • Susan Reichle @USAID says we need to strengthen core capacities incl budget and policy shops #USDevReform
  • First question: what further can be achieved to elevate development in the US? #USDevReform

Harnessing Aid and Trade in a Time of Fiscal Austerity

Thursday, April 14th, 2011
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Today’s post is the fifth and final post in a Feed the Future/Reform blog series that MFAN has been coordinating with key members of the community. To read the first post by Bread for the World, click here. To read the second post by the World Food Program USA, click here.  To read the third post by ActionAid USA, click here. To read the fourth post by the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, click here.

Our guest bloggers from GMF say, “By helping build comprehensive trade corridors that connect crop surplus to deficit regions, Feed the Future is leading the way in ‘aid for trade’ and making U.S. foreign assistance more effective and sustainable.”

A Guest Blog Post by Jonathan M. White and Kathryn Ritterspach

German Marshall Fund of the United States

The Marshall Plan helped facilitate Western Europe’s economic integration and revival through market-oriented policies, leaving behind the protectionism of the 1930s. The European Coal and Steel Community – the precursor to the European Union – further encouraged European integration, pooling these much-needed resources among Western European countries.  The EU expanded membership to countries in the East after the Cold War, offering aid, market access and a common regulatory framework. The Marshall Plan and the European Union, while not perfect by any means, are considered among the most successful development programs.

One lesson from these initiatives has been that to get a bigger bang for your buck, you need the alignment of aid, trade and investment policies toward a unified objective – in this case the rebuilding of Europe. Both the Bush and Obama Administrations have sought to foster vibrant private sectors that complement critical health and education programs in the developing world. In that spirit, the U.S. Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and the U.S. Feed the Future initiative seek to harness both aid and trade to help lift countries out of poverty and become reliable trading partners.

As democracy slowly emerges in Egypt and Tunisia, with other societies in the region on the move and with high commodity prices pushing millions back into poverty worldwide, we cannot waver in our support for these innovative U.S. development policies. In the face of budget constraints, governments must better coordinate aid and trade policies toward common development objectives. Market access, for example, which the United States is very generous in granting to developing countries, can mean little in the absence of cross-border infrastructure, trade finance, reasonable custom regimes, and a sound business climate. Foreign aid supporting small farmers, enterprises, and jobs will only go so far without access to regional or international markets.

Currently, the United States and Europe have a number of trade preference programs that seek to expand markets at home and abroad. However, many of these programs do not adequately reach industries where the poor work. For instance, over 90 percent of African exports under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are petroleum products, an indication of the fact that the trade opportunities it provides are severely under-utilized due to lack of trade capacity. Some of the products in which African producers are competitive and able to export, such as sugar, are effectively excluded from AGOA’s otherwise broad coverage. Although it has wide product coverage, Europe’s Everything But Arms program has overly complicated rules of origin requirements that make it difficult for developing countries to benefit from market access.

Pakistan provides another example. In 2009 the United States committed to provide Pakistan a $7.5 billion aid program. Certainly a country with nuclear weapons and a weak civilian government on the border with Afghanistan should merit friendly U.S. trade policies to help bolster such a massive aid program. However, efforts to provide U.S. duty-free access to Pakistani textile and apparel sectors – critical sources of export earnings and jobs – have floundered. It seems senseless, if not irresponsible, to undercut a multi-billion dollar aid program by maintaining high tariff barriers against a strategic ally.

Ultimately, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Arab world need security, reliable governments, and jobs. When countries ask for foreign assistance it is incumbent on governments – both the donor and the partner country – to think about how their trade policies can accelerate returns on development programs or at a minimum not undermine them. While Egypt has a larger population than South Korea and Taiwan, these Asian nations export more manufacturing goods in two days than Egypt does in an entire year. The Arab Spring provides an opportunity to rethink regional trade and investment opportunities. U.S. and EU trade policies that run counter to transatlantic development objectives in the Arab world should, for starters, be reformed or scrapped.

The good news is that the U.S. has launched a new development policy which opens the way for better development coordination. The Presidential Policy Directive on Development resulted in a U.S. government interagency policy committee, which sets priorities, facilitates decision-making where agency positions diverge, and coordinates development policy across the executive branch. U.S. trade officials are playing an active role in this process. This new policy also recommends, through existing policy mechanisms, “development impact” assessments of other U.S. policies, including trade policy through the U.S. Trade Representative’s Trade Policy Review Group.

The Feed the Future initiative is spearheading a more coherent approach to development, involving a wide range of U.S. agencies. This initiative aims to accelerate inclusive agriculture growth and improve nutrition. To achieve this, it will focus on post-harvest market infrastructure, business development, strengthening and harmonizing regulatory frameworks and tariff reductions, and linking smallholder farmers to regional and international markets. By helping build comprehensive trade corridors that connect crop surplus to deficit regions, Feed the Future is leading the way in “aid for trade” and making U.S. foreign assistance more effective and sustainable.

But more could be done, especially in the face of tighter budgets. In February, the U.S. Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program were allowed to expire. The U.S. International Affairs Budget is under threat at a time when events in North Africa and the Middle East require strong diplomats and development experts on the ground. At risk are meaningful U.S. policy coordination efforts that seek to make the most of development investments to end hunger and foster economic growth. Trade combined with aid is a cost effective means to offering countries a sustainable long-term path out of poverty.

Foreign Assistance is Key to Reinforcing Diplomacy in Sudan

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
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A Guest Blog Post by Kelly Keenan Aylward

Washington Office Director, Wildlife Conservation Society

While much of the aid that the United States sends abroad directly addresses health, food and security needs, a similarly important portion of U.S. assistance benefits the environmental conservation work in developing countries.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Biodiversity Program, Sustainable Landscapes, and Adaptation Program all seek to protect the natural environment in places that, for mostly economic reasons, are under threat.

During the current debate on foreign assistance priorities, authoritative voices from Secretary Hillary Clinton to General David Petraeus to Senator Lindsay Graham are imparting its benefits to American interests including national security and trade; this is true, and conservation funding contributes to that.  Since President Obama announced in 2010 the three pillars of his Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, identifying priority objectives in the areas of global climate change, global food security, and global health, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has offered conservation-focused policy reform recommendations to U.S. development agencies by drawing on its decades of experience as an implementing partner.

Southern Sudan 03-29-11 012_small

Recently, members of the administration, Congress, non-governmental organizations and international governments came together on Capitol Hill to discuss conservation as development, specifically in the new country of Southern Sudan.  As the only environmental non-profit organization on the ground in Sudan, WCS and program director Dr. Paul Elkan do critical work advising the government on natural resource management, mediating land-use disputes between conflicting tribes and developing infrastructure to turn Southern Sudan’s majestic wildlife into a thriving ecotourism industry.

Dr. Elkan was the featured presenter at the policy briefing event.  The undercurrent of the event was the notion of reforming foreign assistance by aiming to reinforce diplomatic investment with development.  Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), USAID Science and Technology Adviser Dr. Alex Dehgan, and USAID Sudan Deputy Mission Director Susan Fine spoke of the need to bolster diplomacy with an infusion of aid dollars in order to ensure those the initial investments sustain.

One of the clearest examples of success in this approach has been WCS’s work in Southern Sudan. The U.S. committed much energy and resources to ensuring a peaceful and smooth separation of Northern and Southern Sudan before and during the successful referendum on independence.  Now, WCS is helping establish sound land and resource policy within the burgeoning government of Southern Sudan to broaden the economic base and ultimately prevent a regression into violence.

The development agencies would do well to use such a model for insuring diplomatic outcomes.  In Sudan, ‘development by conservation’ will hopefully encourage the nascent democracy with the strong economic foundation it needs to stand on and continue to grow peacefully.

American Foreign Policy and Africa with Senator Johnny Isakson

Friday, April 1st, 2011
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isaksonSenator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) delivered an engaging and broad-ranging speech on U.S. policy in Africa yesterday at John’s Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.  Senator Isakson is the Senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, and he has traveled to the continent many times over the last several years.  Senator Isakson focused his remarks on three primary areas: 1. U.S. foreign assistance to Africa; 2. U.S. private investment in Africa; and 3. China’s presence in Africa.

Senator Isakson began his remarks by emphasizing that no continent will be more strategically important to the U.S. than Africa in the 21st Century.  Senator Isakson went on to praise Presidents Bush and Obama for their commitment to engaging Africa and to investing in development programs, such as PEPFAR and the MCC.  Senator Isakson focused on the MCC in particular, explaining that the MCC currently has 11 compacts in Africa and that these compacts are not only creating much needed infrastructure, but are also producing the types of political and economic reforms that are critical to long-term success.  Senator Isakson also offered his strong support for the work that U.S. NGOs are performing in Africa, and he cited MFAN Partner CARE USA in particular for the great work that they are doing through microfinance programs in Africa.

Senator Isakson also offered up some broader arguments for how the U.S. should fashion its foreign assistance.  Specifically, Senator Isakson said that U.S. foreign assistance programs must have a clear purpose and that they should do more to tackle corruption, to support democratization, and to introduce recipient countries to the principles of capitalism that will help develop sustainable economic growth over the long-term.  Senator Isakson kept returning to the issue of corruption throughout his remarks, and repeatedly made the point that we must protect our investments in Africa by developing greater accountability and transparency.

Senator Isakson also spoke about the important role that the U.S. private sector is playing in Africa.  He told the story of how Marathon Oil has invested millions in natural gas in Equatorial Guinea, helping the country have one of the fastest growing economies in the world.  The Senator also praised Coca Cola, headquartered in his home state of Georgia, for their $30 million investment in purification projects to become a water neutral company and to develop greater access to clean water in Africa.

The last topic that Senator Isakson covered was China’s growing role in Africa.  Senator Isakson was highly critical of the manner in which China’s engagement in Africa is focused on the extraction of resources and the deployment of Chinese workers for infrastructure projects, without any consideration for sustainable development solutions .  By contrast, Senator Isakson praised the U.S. government for the way that it works with its African partners to plan and execute development programs that serve the needs of the people and that are held accountable.

In the Q&A section that followed the Senator’s speech, he responded to a question on how the current budget environment will impact U.S. foreign assistance programs.  Senator Isakson argued that a cost-benefit analysis will have to be applied to U.S. foreign assistance programs, just like the rest of the Federal budget, but he is optimistic that development programs like PEPFAR and the MCC will continue to be funded, (though perhaps not at existing levels), because of the value they continue to demonstrate.  The Senator also responded to several questions on the current situation in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and Sudan.

In conclusion, Senator Isakon’s participation and his remarks at this morning’s event at SAIS clearly displayed his passion for U.S. policy towards Africa and the depth of knowledge he has developed in this area during his tenure in Congress.  Senator Isakson will undoubtedly be a lead voice in the U.S. Senate on Africa policy issues during the 112th Congress.

U.S. Development Firms Lead by Example

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
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A Guest Blog Post by Lawrence J. Halloran
Director, PSC International Development Initiative

With all the talk about whether foreign assistance is achieving its intended results, recent success stories demonstrate that economic development remains the strongest foundation for advances in all other sectors, such as health, governance, education and the empowerment of minorities and women. These successful projects show how U.S. development firms lead by example, teaching entrepreneurship and efficiency and creating thriving local businesses.

DevEx recently highlighted the success of a project to reform agriculture in Latin America implemented by TetraTech.  That USAID-funded effort was successful because it brought innovative science and a rigorous evidence-based approach to agricultural development there. And USAID recently highlighted work by AECOM and Nathan Associates on successful projects in post-conflict countries, such as Sri Lanka, that trained indigenous workforces and gave them the skills they need to develop viable local industries to compete and succeed in a global market.

These are just two examples of hundred of development projects underway that showcase how U.S. companies practice the capitalism we preach, often hiring up to ten locals for every U.S. technical expert deployed, and by nurturing budding local risk-takers and business leaders who go on to build more stable, prosperous, healthy communities in their countries.  Development is by nature a long-term process and changing political winds can sometimes prevent short-term progress from taking root.  But successes like these projects prove that USAID-planned, long-term development implemented by U.S. companies continues to unleash unstoppable and sustainable economic activity that is the only sure driver of progress in all other areas.