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Posts Tagged ‘modernizing foreign aid’

Senators Kerry, Durbin, Cardin Introduce Urban Development Bill

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), yesterday introduced legislation to address the challenges of urbanization in developing countries and expand existing U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to craft better strategies for sustainable urban development.

The Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010 (S. 3229) seeks to deal with unprecedented growth from enlarging slums, increasing levels of pollution, overburdened transport systems, and the lack of affordable housing.  The bill would direct the USAID Administrator to: 1) develop a strategy to foster sustainable urban development; 2) consider establishing a senior advisor for urban development; and 3) establish a pilot urban strategies initiative that will help a select number of cities create a policy framework for future growth and development.

“We all recognize that the 21st century is the century of the city.  There is an explosion of urban growth around the globe – already the majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, with approximately one billion people residing in slums.  The phenomenon of urbanization will be ignored at our own peril.  Responsible citizens of the world must consciously harness their creativity and ingenuity to increase the livability, economic viability, and environmental sustainability of our cities,” said Chairman Kerry.

“For the first time in recorded history, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities,” said Senator Durbin. “Rural flight strains cities’ ability to provide clean water and sanitation, safe housing and basic infrastructure.  This bill will put an emphasis on smart growth that will ensure that today’s cities not only meet the basic human needs of their residents, but also become the economic and cultural hubs of the future.”

“Half of all the world’s poor live in cities and town.  To tackle the growing poverty at the root of this problem, we must pursue solutions that increase the sustainable capacity of local and national actors, boost cooperation between stakeholders and focus on the needs of those most affected, particularly women,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee.

MFAN partners International Housing Coalition (IHC), Habitat for Humanity, and InterAction all hailed the introduction of the Sustainable Urban Development Act.

Peter Kimm, Chairman of the IHC Board, said, “This legislation represents a milestone in the thinking about current foreign assistance. This legislation would be an important first step toward ensuring access to basic shelter and affordable housing, particularly by residents of slums, informal settlements and impoverished urban areas.”

Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, said, “This important and timely legislation will act as a crucial vehicle for supporting sustainable solutions to expand access to basic shelter and affordable housing.  Additionally, the bill’s focus on security of tenure, access to basic services, and other essential programs will ensure a more holistic and effective approach to U.S. development assistance.”

Samuel A. Worthington, MFAN Principal and InterAction’s President and CEO, states, “Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) recognize the overall strategic importance of urban issues in the 21st century.  We are particularly concerned about the plight of the urban poor and the rate at which urban poverty is accelerating.  Meeting today’s urban challenges will require a focus on the causes and effects of poverty, including housing, governance and livelihoods, and the engagement of all stakeholders, including the urban poor, in order to achieve more equitable, inclusive and prosperous cities around the globe.”

Senate Confirms Former MFAN Principal Lael Brainard at Treasury

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
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brainardl_portraitAfter a nearly 12-month delay, the Senate has confirmed former MFAN Principal Lael Brainard as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.  In the position, Brainard will be the nation’s top financial diplomat, playing “a key role on issues such as the delicate negotiations with China over the level of the yuan, and seeking international cooperation on the restructuring of the financial sector’s regulatory framework” (via The Wall Street Journal).

Before taking her position at Treasury, Brainard was senior fellow and vice president and director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution.  There, she was a leading voice on development issues, penning authoritative papers including The 9/11 Development ImperativeU.S. Foreign Assistance: Reform to Lead in the 21st-Century, and U.S. Foreign Assistance: Reinventing Aid for the 21st-Century.

One of Brainard’s most important contributions to the movement for foreign assistance reform was her creation of a chart cataloging the uncoordinated programs and overlapping authorities that are rife in the U.S. foreign assistance system.

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Brookings, CSIS Issue New Report on Foreign Assistance Reform

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
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Noam UngerBrookingsCSIS logoMargaret Taylor

In a new report – “Capacity for Change: Reforming U.S. Assistance Efforts in Poor and Fragile Countries” – by co-authors Noam Unger (Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution and MFAN Principal), Margaret Taylor (Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project), and Frederick Barton (former co-director of the CSIS Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project), policymakers are presented with key recommendations to inform a coherent and effective national approach to both stabilization and broader development.

As the Obama administration moves through two strategic reviews – the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy and the State Department’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review – the report concludes that “there is a stunningly broad consensus that improvement is needed across the board” on how the U.S. government provides foreign aid.  The report also predicts that “new presidential decisions and policies are expected” from the administration this spring on key questions around foreign assistance and the elevation of development as a strong pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

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QDDR Blog Series: MFAN Co-Chair David Beckmann on Poverty

Thursday, March 18th, 2010
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The third installment in MFAN’s QDDR blog series comes from our Co-Chair, Rev. David Beckmann, who is president of the leading anti-poverty advocacy organization Bread for the World.  To see other posts in the series, click on the following names – George Ingram, Noam Unger.

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The QDDR and Poverty Reduction

by Rev. David Beckmann

Bread for the World wants a reform of U.S. foreign assistance that will make it more effective in reducing poverty.

The Obama administration has already taken important steps towards reforming foreign assistance.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made development and global poverty reduction a higher priority in U.S. foreign policy.  They have achieved increased funding for development assistance and added staffing to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  They have also launched the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative (which thrills us at Bread for the World) and announced a more integrated approach to global health.

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A Conservative Perspective on Foreign Assistance Reform – Part 2

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
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mark_green_profileIn a piece published in The Daily Caller, former Representative Mark Green (R-WI), who also served as Ambassador to Tanzania from 2007-2009, calls on Congress to maintain support for a strong International Affairs Budget and follow through on foreign assistance reform, saying: “…there’s no denying the fiscal challenges that our elected leaders have on their plate. But there’s also no denying how much of a difference our foreign assistance programs are making in key parts of the world. I hope that our leaders keep these thoughts in mind as the budget season—and political season—moves forward.”

Ambassador Green, now the Managing Director of the Malaria No More Policy Center, has spoken out strongly on foreign assistance reform before, including in a video recently posted on the MFAN website and a Washington Times opinion piece last August.