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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.

 

It Takes Two to Quango: Does the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact Duplicate or Add Value?

The United Kingdom has been a stalwart funder and innovator in foreign assistance for almost 20 years. In 2011, it created the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) to report to Parliament on the country’s growing aid portfolio. ICAI is a QUANGO in Brit-speak – a quasi-public non-governmental organization - with a 4-year mandate which is undergoing review this year. Recently, I took a look at the reports it has produced to see whether the organization is fulfilling its role in holding the country’s overseas development aid programs accountable.  I found one fascinating report which shows what ICAI could be doing and many more reports that made me wonder whether ICAI is duplicating work already within the purview of the agency, Department for International Development (DFID), which accounts for most of the UK’s foreign assistance programs.

Ending Global Poverty: Can Obama Bend It Like Bono?

What do Obama and Bono have in common?

Both have proposed that the world should seek to end extreme poverty over the next twenty years or so.

Obama said so in his annual state of the union address (here) and this week Bono said the same (to be posted here by TED soon) in an interesting and nuanced TED talk in Los Angeles.

Dodd-Frank, the EU, and the Resource Curse

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s op-ed  in the Wall Street Journal lays out his anti-poverty vision. As my colleague Todd Moss notes, this type of serious, top-down and bottom-up debate about development issues doesn’t make the US look especially good by comparison.

David Cameron’s Antipoverty Agenda: It’s Post-Gleneagles, Post-2015, and Post-Aid, but is it Post-November 6?

While we are desperately trying to decode a strand of insight into US development policy in the Presidential debates, the British are having a full-throated debate about leadership on 21st-century global issues —and, frankly, making us look bad. In today’s Wall Street Journal, British Prime Minister David Cameron lays out his antipoverty vision in this op-ed.  My three takeaways:

Taxing Kenya’s M-Pesa Picks the Pockets of the Poor

Kenya has instituted a new tax that affects users of M-Pesa -- a widely popular phone-based money transfer service used by more than half of Kenya’s adult population. The new 10 percent excise duty on fees charged for money transfer services applies to mobile phone providers, banks, and other money transfer agencies. Operated by Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya, M-Pesa accounts for the largest share of users of money transfer services. Users of M-Pesa products will therefore bear most of the impact of the tax.

Post-2015: Zero Is the Comely-est Number

One thing we emphasized in the Karver/Kenny/Sumner paper on MDGs 2.0 was that the MDGs are far better remembered, and have been far more influential, than the rest of the Millennium Declaration from which they were drawn.  We suggested that was because the MDGs were easy to understand, self-evidently important, numerical and time bound, and we called for any follow up goals to keep those vital features.  That point seems to be w

New Documents Reveal the Cost of “Ending Poverty” in a Millennium Village: At Least $12,000 Per Household

Documents recently made public by the UK government reveal the cost of poverty reduction in the Millennium Villages Project, a self-described "solution to extreme poverty" in African villages created by Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs. The project costs at least US$12,000 per household that it lifts from poverty—about 34 times the annual incomes of those households.

You’ve Heard of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9. Here’s Nigeria’s 20-20-20 (And This One Might Fly)

Lately I’ve been thinking Nigeria should be a little bit more like, of all places, Iran. Yes, Iran. And maybe Alaska.  Here’s how.

Africa’s most populous nation has been a massive underperformer since independence. It’s earned hundreds of billions of dollars from petroleum exports, but the average Nigerian has little to show for it. At least three decades were lost; average incomes in the mid-2000s were the same as in the mid-1970s. More recently, the economic data has been brighter. And there is always hope that the country has finally turned a corner.

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