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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Hunger in Haiti in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Two months ago, Hurricane Sandy swept through Haiti, bringing winds and heavy rain that wiped away buildings, roads, crops, livestock, and fishing boats. By the time the extent of the damage and the humanitarian needs were understood, Americans had their attention fixed almost entirely on New York and New Jersey, not the Caribbean.

Can We At Least Contain Ethanol’s Damage?

“Corn ethanol is a done deal…. There’s no stopping it.”

Princeton University scholar, Tim Searchinger, on The Grist blog in 2009

In response to this year’s severe drought and surging corn prices, the governors of North Carolina and Arkansas asked the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the mandate for blending ethanol into gasoline. Governor Perry of Texas filed a similar request during the price spikes of 2008 that the EPA rejected. After that, global debate over the implications of crop-based renewable fuels for food prices and climate change escalated. Some policymakers responded, but only by tinkering around the margins: the US Congress allowed $6 billion in subsidies to expire last year in the face of intense budget pressures, and the European Commission recently proposed halving its mandate for food-based biofuels.

FAO's New (and Lower) Estimates of Hunger

This post is joint with Casey Friedman

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s flagship hunger report came out Monday, featuring a new and improved methodology for estimating the number of undernourished people in the world, and it has two big, good surprises, though there are still hundreds of millions of consistently underfed people.

And Now, Digital Food (Will It Help the Poor?)

Last month Mastercard Worldwide and the World Food Program (WFP) announced a global partnership in “digital food”. The public-private partnership aims to harness Mastercard’s expertise in electronic payments to develop WFP’s electronic voucher programs. Can it work?

Can We Assess Ag Aid Quality?

This is a joint post with Edward Collins.

Can we assess ag aid quality? The short answer: sort of.

For at least a decade, aid effectiveness has been in the spotlight because of concerns that, in some cases, aid may do more harm than good and, more recently, because of growing budget pressures. In 2005, donor and recipient countries agreed on a set of principles for more effective aid and a process to monitor implementation of those principles with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Based on these principals, and with the objective to provide an independent evaluation of donor performance, Nancy Birdsall, Homi Kharas, and colleagues launched a joint Center for Global Development and Brookings Institution project to assess the Quality of Official Development Assistance, QuODA for short. Now in its second edition, this project motivated CGD colleagues Amanda Glassman and Denizhan Duran to apply the QuODA methodology to health aid and now, we’ve done the same thing for agricultural aid.

Latest AGOA Delay Comes from a Surprising Source

This is a joint post with Jenny Ottenhoff.

Last month, one of us wrote that Congress seemed to have compromised and reached a bipartisan deal to extend the rule (known technically but awkwardly as the third-country fabric rule) that allows poor African countries to export clothing to the United States duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We should have known better. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was finally ready to bring a package of trade items, including the rule extension, to the floor for passage by unanimous consent when two senators put holds (subscription required) on it over completely unrelated issues – despite the fact that they actually support the extension.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Congressional Bipartisanship for Developing Countries

Given the harsh tone and general gridlock in the U.S. Congress of late, one might think that signs of bipartisanship and ‘getting things done’ would be welcome, but not always.  We caught a glimpse this week of the good, bad and ugly in congressional activities surrounding the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants duty-free treatment to most imports from sub-Saharan Africa , and the U.S. farm bill.

Win for Ag in Los Cabos: Introducing the AgResults Development Initiative

The G20 leaders at the summit in Los Cabos, Mexico are no doubt focused on the global economic slowdown and ongoing Eurozone crisis, but an ad hoc group of donors took time on Monday to announce the launch of a concrete development deliverable.  The governments of Australia, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, and United States, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide up to $100 million in results-based financing, using pull mechanism

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