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Posts Tagged ‘health’

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.

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.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
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Tuesday, March 8 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, but MFAN Partner Women Thrive Worldwide is drawing attention to the importance of women’s empowerment a few days early. Tomorrow morning they will have their 3rd annual International Women’s Day breakfast as the community takes stock of the progress made in agricultural development and food security and explores important questions for charting a path forward for gender equality. Just five days later Women Thrive Worldwide will be partnering with MFAN and American Jewish World Service to host a discussion on “Forging the Path to Effective Development: Getting Gender Policy Right”. For details about the event, see below. Be sure to visit ModernizeAid later this week and next for more highlights on International Women’s Day and what our partners are doing to mark the occasion.

Forging the Path to Effective Development: Getting Gender Policy Right

With Keynote Remarks By:

Deputy Administrator Donald K. Steinberg

U.S. Agency for International Development

Who Will Join a Panel With:

Ruth Messinger and Ritu Sharma

Presidents of American Jewish World Service and Women Thrive Worldwide

Moderated by

Dee Dee Myers

Political Analyst and Commentator

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Reserve Officers Association Building, Minuteman Ballroom A

One Constitution Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC

To RSVP for this event, please e-mail

The first government-wide global development policy issued by the President last fall and the State Department’s recently released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) both commit the United States to consider the unique needs of women and girls, as well as men and boys, in designing U.S. diplomacy and poverty-fighting efforts around the world.  When gender is taken into account, foreign assistance can truly reach the people it is intended to benefit—so that both women and men can contribute to the growth and development of their countries. However, without a commitment to gender integration, women are usually the ones left behind; even though research shows that investments in women yield economic, health, and education benefits in lifting families and communities out of poverty.

Join us on International Women’s Day for this timely discussion with Deputy Administrator Steinberg on the importance of taking gender into account when designing development and foreign assistance programs. Hear about a new analysis and recommendations for the QDDR from Women Thrive Worldwide, as well as a new AJWS paper, entitled Empowering Girls as Agents of Change: A Human Rights-Based Approach to U.S. Development Policy.

Framing Global Health and Foreign Policy

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
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typeIn Globalization and Health—an online, peer-reviewed journal—Ronald Labonté and Michelle Gagnon wrote a paper exploring how health has become a prominent global policy agenda in the last decade titled, “Framing health and foreign policy: lessons for global health diplomacy.”  They argue that the rise of global health policy has been accompanied by the new concept of global health diplomacy (GHD), defined as “the processes by which government, multilateral and civil society actors attempt to position health in foreign policy negotiations and to create new forms of global health governance.” This article addresses two overarching questions:

1. What arguments have been advanced by governments to position global health more prominently in foreign policy deliberations?

2. How does their policy framing relate to their potential to improve global health equity?

To answer these questions and determine how global health fits into a broader foreign policy landscape, Labonté and Gagnon present six policy frames: security, development, global public goods, trade, human rights and ethical/moral reasoning. These differing policy frames offer multiple rationales for elevating global health issues in foreign policy debates.

Be sure to read the full article here exploring the framing of health and foreign policy and see key excerpts below:

“Initial findings support conventional international relations theory that most states, even when committed to health as a foreign policy goal, still make decisions primarily on the basis of the ‘high politics’ of national security and economic material interests. Development, human rights and ethical/moral arguments for global health assistance, the traditional ‘low politics’ of foreign policy, are present in discourse but do not appear to dominate practice.”

“There remains some cause for optimism that global health will retain and perhaps strengthen its prominence in foreign policy. Spain, during its EU presidency in the first half of 2010, focused on issues of global health equity, coherence and knowledge. The WHO continues to emphasize the health risks of unregulated global financial markets while strengthening the knowledge and practice base for global health diplomacy. The transition from the G8 to the G20 (while still fraught with issues of economic elitism in global governance) incorporates some countries with stronger histories of rights-based approaches to health.”

“Global health has yet to demonstrate any revolutionary shift in foreign policy drivers, to the extent that the different discursive framings for global health create an enlarged space for debate, an opening exists for global health equity to become more central in foreign policy deliberations. This challenges global health diplomats to strengthen the force of some of their arguments…primarily in introducing human rights and ethical norms into foreign policy debate.”

Do you think the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) aligns with the concept of global health diplomacy? Let us know in comments below.

Foreign Aid Reform and National Security

Friday, September 17th, 2010
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By Mark Green, Ambassador and Congressman (ret.)

I recently began posting a series of pieces with some of the reasons why I believe (a) America needs foreign assistance reform and (b) Conservatives should take up the cause.  Done right, foreign assistance can play a crucial role in our foreign policy.  Unfortunately, the status quo isn’t “done right” or, at least, done as well as it could be.

To summarize, here are my first eight reasons:

Reason 1: Our current foreign aid system is organizationally incoherent.

Reason 2: We need to reform the system to make our precious taxpayer dollars go much further.

Reason 3: Foreign assistance reform is a great opportunity for Conservatives to reaffirm values and initiatives we care about.

Reason 4: Simply put, Conservatives (and Republicans) have a long history of standing up for EFFECTIVE foreign assistance.

Reason 5: The combination of fragmented authorities and overlapping bureaucracies in our current assistance framework is watering down public diplomacy efforts.

Reason 6: Making our foreign assistance operate as effectively as possible is a moral and ethical imperative.

Reason 7: The lack of coordination between our foreign assistance programs and our trade policies is hurting the effectiveness of both.

Reason 8: Conservatives need to ensure that our foreign assistance system recognizes, protects and builds on the enormous contributions to development being made by other-than-government sources – especially faith-based institutions.

And now…Reason 9: Making our foreign assistance system more effective can help bring home our men and women in uniform – and make future deployments less necessary/minimize the need for future deployments.

American leaders have long acknowledged the interdependence of national security and development programs.  In creating the United States Agency for International Development, President Harry Truman stated that its purpose was to “strengthen and generalize peace… by counteracting the economic conditions that predispose to social and political instability and to war. . . our military and economic security is vitally dependent on the economic security of other peoples.”  A half century later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted, “we must now use our foreign assistance to help prevent future Afghanistans—and to make America and the world safer.”

It’s not complicated.  When central governments are meeting the basic needs of their people, or at least are on the road to doing so, then citizens have every incentive to support them and no incentive to agitate, or worse yet take up arms against the government and its Western allies.  On the other hand, where access to basic services is poor, non-state actors such as Hamas, Hezbollah, warlords, and other extremists have an opening to stir up instability, strife and violence.  For example, a recent unclassified assessment from the Intelligence Community observed that the “inability of the central government of Afghanistan to provide health-care and other services has helped to undermine its credibility while boosting support for a resurgent and increasingly sophisticated Taliban.”

Those who serve on the front lines of our national defense understand this well. They MFAN9understand that in some troubled lands where American forces have a presence, the legitimacy and credibility of the central government affects the size of American forces, their mission and how long they’ll need to stay.

In a recent op-ed, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, commander of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, suggested another reason why our foreign assistance programs can influence the effectiveness of the central government in places like Afghanistan  . . .  and, by implication, how long our servicemen and servicewomen are deployed there.

The Afghan soldiers and policemen that I interact with every day are quick, witty and experienced. They have fought for security for 30 years—and they know how to fight. What they have yet to gain is the ability to sustain their forces and instill them with professionalism.

Literacy is essential for enabling accountability, allows for professional military education (particularly specialized skills taught in technical schools), and reduces corruption. . . .

If a soldier cannot read, how can he know what equipment he is supposed to have and maintain? If a policeman does not know his numbers, how can he read and understand the serial number on his own weapon?  . . . Finally, literacy combats corruption. It prevents bad actors from preying on the illiterate. When the force is literate, standards can be published and everyone can be held accountable to adhere to them, up the chain of command as well as down. . . .(Dr. Seuss and the Afghan Military, Wall St. Journal, Sept. 9, 2010)

All of the foregoing is part of why 50 U.S. military leaders recently urged greater support for development and humanitarian programs – which they argue are “critical to stabilizing fragile states” and “combating terrorism.” When the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition recently launched a project called “Veterans for Smart Power,” it posted an online petition which provides, in part, “Our threats today come from non-traditional enemies. We must utilize military AND civilian tools such as diplomacy, food aid, health, education, and economic development.” Thousands have already signed to show their support for this principle.

In recent years, under both Republican and Democratic Congressional majorities, we’ve allowed our foreign assistance tools to lose some of their edge.  Some of that’s due to funding, some to fragmentation of program authorities, and some to insufficient monitoring and evaluation. That more and more of our development operations seem to be carried out by our uniformed men and women is a sign of that “lost edge.”  While the use of these forces is sometimes necessary – especially in areas where security is uncertain or where the transition away from active fighting is just beginning — all too often it’s due to capacity and resource limitations in agencies like USAID.

While our servicemenMFan_9 and servicewomen are very simply the best in the world at what they do, assistance-type work isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a core function of their work in the field. As Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said in a recent speech, “It’s one thing to be able and willing to serve as emergency responders, quite another to always have to be the fire chief.”  He went on to say that greater investment in areas like diplomacy and development is essential . . . and overdue. “My fear, quite frankly, is that we aren’t moving fast enough in this regard. U.S. foreign policy is still too dominated by the military, too dependent upon the generals and admirals who lead our major overseas commands and not enough on the State Department.”

For the sake of allowing our men and women in uniform to focus on what they do best, or better yet, allowing them to come home, Conservatives need to ensure that our assistance system is sufficiently strong and well-organized.  We need to make sure that our assistance professionals are made part of the strategic discussions regarding the American presence in troubled lands. Americans stand up for our military men and women – that should include making sure that our foreign assistance system and development tools are ready to do their part.