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Congressman Jim Kolbe’s surprise pre-Thanksgiving announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2006 represents a real loss for those of us who work to improve U.S. policies towards developing countries.
According to this Reuters article, “Quake-stricken Pakistan heaved a sigh of relief” when donors offered Islamabad some $6 billion in aid pledges this weekend. If anyone is heaving sighs of relief, it’s likely to be the donors, who have finally reinvigorated a global response that Kofi Annan has called “weak and tardy” (Seattle Times).
The board of the Millennium Challenge Corp. – the Bush administration’s flagship foreign aid initiative – met on Tuesday to decide which countries had been selected for participation in the program. Of the 34 countries that passed the performance indicators, the Board chose to add only 6 new countries to its current list of 17 eligible for MCC funding. Two of the six - El Salvador and Namibia - are lower middle income countries, with average incomes much higher than the countries previously covered by the program.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan declared 2005 the “Year of Microcredit” to raise international awareness of the potential for tiny loans to help the poor. On Monday and Tuesday, I attended one of the final activities pursuant to this declaration, a conference in the basement of the U.N. building called the Forum on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors.