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Technology, infrastructure, governance and anticorruption, human development, subjective wellbeing/happiness
Charles Kenny is a senior fellow and the director of technology and development at the Center for Global Development. His current work focuses on gender and development, the role of technology in development, governance and anticorruption and the post-2015 development agenda. He has published articles, chapters and books on issues including what we know about the causes of economic growth, the link between economic growth and broader development, the causes of improvements in global health, the link between economic growth and happiness, the end of the Malthusian trap, the role of communications technologies in development, the ‘digital divide,’ corruption, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. He is the author of the book "Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding, and How We Can Improve the World Even More" and “The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Great for the West.” He has been a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine and a regular contributor to Business Week magazine. Kenny was previously at the World Bank, where his assignments included working with the VP for the Middle East and North Africa Region, coordinating work on governance and anticorruption in infrastructure and natural resources, and managing a number of investment and technical assistance projects covering telecommunications and the Internet.
Let There Be Light
A Center for Global Development brownbag seminar
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
**Please bring your lunch--beverages provided**
Co-Founder and CEO
Truman National Security Project
Hosted byCharles Kenny
Center for Global Development
Providing electricity to unlit and unstable parts of the globe is crucial to jump-starting development, improving the environment, and assisting fragile states that ferment many of today's security threats. Rachel Kleinfeld and Drew Sloan's new book, Let There Be Light, shows the failures of centralized electricity to meet these challenges---and describes how distributed, renewable energy such as solar and wind power can work. But, Kleinfeld and Sloan argue, it is not enough to harness the power of the elements. To scale, distributed energy must harness the power of the market. Kleinfeld will present the major challenges that have impeded distributed energy's success, and describe the roles development donors, social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, the military, and the business world can play to make lighting the developing world a reality.
Photo: Gates Foundation / cc
At the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake in January 2012, slow reconstruction and recovery efforts sparked soul-searching and debate in the development community. Why aren’t recovery efforts moving faster? Are international donors and NGOs helping or hurting recovery? Can traditional aid work amidst Haiti's weak government institutions? Are there alternative approaches that would be better?
Because Haiti epitomizes many of the most difficult challenges of development, it has attracted substantial interest from CGD researchers. Their fresh ideas include using migration as a disaster recovery tool and cell phones to put money directly into the hands of earthquake victims. Below, highlights from their recent work:
1) Better Haiti Aid: Migration
Michael Clemens, Senior Fellow
“The U.S. government added Haiti to the list of more than 50 countries eligible to participate in the H-2 visa program for temporary and seasonal workers, ending a longstanding policy of excluding Haitians from America’s largest temporary employment-based visa program. This is wonderful news for Haitians and Americans. It has the potential to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic opportunity for Haitian workers and their families—at no cost to the U.S. or Haitian governments, and with no increase in overall U.S. immigration. This seemingly tiny change has vast economic potential. Given the huge wage differences (an estimated $19,000 in additional annual income per Haitian worker), if just 2,000 Haitians are permitted to work as H-2 workers in the United States each year, over the course of 10 years, that’s $400 million in additional, new income for Haitian families. That’s equal in size to the entire U.S. post-earthquake budget for reconstruction in Haiti.”
2) Haiti: Doomed to be the Republic of NGOs?
Vijaja Ramachandran, Senior Fellow
“Haiti is often called the ‘Republic of NGOs.’ Because of the limited capacity of the Haitian government and weak national institutions, NGOs have risen to play a very prominent role, one equivalent to a quasi-privatization of the state. In a forthcoming paper, I discuss some of the options for improving the relationship between NGOs and the government of Haiti, with a view to building public institutions and government capacity. I recommend that NGOs working in Haiti be asked to sign the equivalent of the Paris Declaration for aid donors—one that would require registration, coordination, and cooperation with the government. Meanwhile, the government (and the international donor community, which is committed at least on paper to supporting the government) should focus on core functions, in particular “core governance”: security, civil service, core infrastructure, legal and regulatory reforms, and public financial management and corruption.”
3) Build Back Better: Great Slogan, Bad Idea?
Charles Kenny, Senior Fellow
“On the second anniversary of the Haiti quake, there has been some progress towards reconstruction and recovery, but it is slow. And one big reason for that is the snail’s pace rate of disbursement of international donor funding for reconstruction. [This stirs] up old angst about the broader problem with disaster relief and recovery support. All too often, we try to deliver [disaster relief] like development assistance. But reconstruction and development are two different things. Development is about making things better than they were. Reconstruction, on the other hand, is about ‘getting back to where we were’ as quickly as possible. For disaster recovery, a new model of giving money direct to victims is increasingly practicable thanks to mobile money –indeed, it was done by Mercy Corps in Haiti. I’d suggest combining that with funding local governments –however inefficient and corrupt—to get back to their former state of (dys)function. Wait on the development assistance until life looks a little more normal.”
4) Cholera in Haiti: The Blame Game
Victoria Fan, Research Fellow, and Richard Cash, Senior Lecturer on Global Health, Harvard School of Public Health
“Since October 2010, Haiti has struggled to control a deadly cholera outbreak—on top of ongoing recovery efforts from the devastating earthquake in January 2010. In December 2011, a group of lawyers in Haiti, on behalf of some 15,000 victims of cholera, sued the United Nations for $50,000 for each victim and double that for families of those who died. Focusing on these immediate objects of blame are of epidemiologic interest, but deflect attention away from the country experiencing the disease, and in this case, unable to control the spread. In a country where aid agencies and NGOs play major roles relative to the government, this outbreak should draw attention not only to immediate causes but more importantly to the long-term failure by every involved party and to the urgency of improving Haiti’s water and sanitation as soon as possible.”
This is not the first time CGD has proposed alternative development ideas for Haiti. Click here to see our list from 2010, featuring even more ideas and commentary on post-quake development efforts.
On Tuesday, January 24, President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address to Congress, the American public, and global audiences seeking to better understand the domestic and foreign policy priorities for the United States in 2012. With a presidential election year in full swing and a still-uncertain U.S. economic recovery, it’s unlikely global development will get much mention in the president’s address. But that won’t stop us at CGD from tuning in to assess the president’s remarks using our state-of-the art policy proclamation evaluation instrument: CGD State of the Union Bingo.
Download CGD’s SOTU Bingo cards
Play Online with Interactive Bingo Cards
RSVP for the D.C. Event
Together with CGD friends and colleagues, we’ll track in real-time how the president measures up to his commitment to development by listening for the key development-relevant words listed on our bingo cards. Will he mention his new pledge to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment? Pakistan? Climate? Trade?