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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.

 

Play CGD State of the Union Bingo!

This is a joint post with Sarah Jane Staats.

U.S. policies and practices have a significant impact on development prospects in the poorer world. While development is crucial to numerous U.S. policy goals, it is often oddly absent in domestic political debate. On Wednesday, January 27, President Obama will deliver his first official State of the Union address to Congress, the American public, and a global audience seeking to understand the U.S.’s priorities in 2010. As in previous years, CGD encourages people around the world, from the Beltway to Bangkok, to participate in and evaluate the president’s remarks by playing CGD State of the Union Bingo.

Can We Provide Better Financing for Food Aid in Emergencies?

This is a joint posting with Owen McCarthy and Julia Barmeier

The events in Haiti have demonstrated the reactive nature of emergency response—specifically the myriad of appeals for funding for food, medicines and basic supplies. While these initiatives can produce positive results for the disaster victims, they are often encumbered by long delays, which mean that people stay hungry and sick for days, weeks or even months. The United Nations says that it is currently feeding 4,000 people, and hopes to feed 2 million people within a month.

Out of the Tranches

Proposition #1: Details matter

Proposition #2: People hear what they expect to hear

Lemma #1: People often misunderstand details

Theorem: Foreign aid agencies continue to use tranched operations even when a small modification would work better.

I leave the proof to the reader, but this theorem came to mind during recent discussions about Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid) as it would apply to financing primary education.

Six Important Lessons for Disaster Relief

The massive earthquake that struck Haiti last week has wreaked havoc on a scale that appears unprecedented. Unfortunately, there are many precedents, including several in the last five years, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which killed an estimated 220,000 people, the South Asia earthquake of 2005, which killed 86,000 people, and the Chengdu earthquake of 2008, which killed a similar number. Learning from these is critical to succeeding in minimizing the suffering in Haiti in the next few days and weeks and maximizing the opportunities for recovery over the next several years. While different people involved in the response to these disasters will draw different lessons, from my perspective at the White House during the tsunami and the South Asia earthquake, the following come most quickly to mind:

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