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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.

 

South Africa to Launch Development Aid Agency

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

South Africa announced last week that it will launch its own development aid agency in 2011 - the South African Development Partnership Agency. This move places South Africa ahead of other emerging donors such as India and China , who have yet to create separate agencies to dispense aid.

No longer just a recipient of aid, South Africa has quietly ramped up its role as a leader on the African continent, largely via peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction, and even analytical work.

Baby Doc Return to Haiti!? Let Bill Clinton Run for President!

This post is joint with Julie Walz

The surprise return of ousted dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to Haiti has thrown more uncertainty into a country already struggling with political paralysis from the November election and a painful recovery from last year’s quake. Duvalier returned after nearly 25 years in exile and was arrested in Port au Prince for charges of corruption and embezzlement. The following day, a lawsuit was filed against him for torture and crimes against humanity. Duvalier is blamed, along with his father Francoise “Papa Doc” Duvalier, for the torture and rape of thousands –between 40,000 and 60,000 Haitians are thought to have died under their rule from 1957 – 1986. Despite this horrendous record, some young Haitians are drawn to Baby Doc, believing that he might bring some relief from the desperate conditions in which they find themselves.

Still Time to Prevent Another Food Price Crisis—and the One after That?

This is a joint post with Vijaya Ramachandran.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently reported that the December 2010 Food Price Index surpassed the peak reached in June 2008. A closer examination of the data, however, provides some modest hope that the worst effects of the 2007-08 price spikes can be avoided, with luck and better policies.

First, it is important to note that only two of the five components of the Food Price Index were above 2008 levels—meat (slightly above) and sugar (more than twice as high). Second, as shown in the chart below, staple grain prices, which are key to preventing hunger among the poor, are increasing sharply, while rice and, to a lesser degree, wheat remain well below their 2008 peaks. Maize is the exception, thanks in part to U.S. policies supporting corn-based ethanol that bring to mind the zombies populating popular culture—they just won’t die!

World Food Program Finance Innovation Could Cut Hunger

This is a joint post with Owen McCarthy.

At the next meeting of its Executive Board in Rome on November 8, the management of the World Food Programme (WFP) will propose an expanded financing facility to the tune of $557 million to fund advance purchases of food. This is a welcome news that has the potential to cut hunger, by stretching WFP dollars and speeding deliveries.

Currency Wars Are a Development Problem and the G-20 Has a Major Role to Play in the Solution

Last weekend’s communiqué from the G-20 finance ministers is a first step to bridge the divide in the ongoing currency wars. I find both hope and disappointment in the Communiqué. It is very positive that the G-20 ministers have called for the IMF to help identify countries with policies leading to large and unsustainable imbalances. This is a step in the right direction, although no specific quantitative indicators have yet been advanced.

Development and the Seoul G-20 Summit

Reports of progress last weekend notwithstanding, the so-called currency wars—the reality and threat of competitive devaluations—are likely to continue to dominate the news about the upcoming Seoul G-20 Summit.

The G-20 Is a Great Idea … but Let’s Make Sure the Execution Is Right!

This post is joint with Enrique Rueda-Sabater

Moving from the clearly obsolete G-7 to a broader group that reflects the reality of today’s world makes eminent sense. Doing it on the basis of a grouping improvised during the crisis-before-last (and making sure that it included the then-favorite finance ministers of the U.S. and Canadian sponsors) is squandering the opportunity to move up to a credible, transparent, global governance platform.

India Emerges as an Aid Donor

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

Last month, the Indian Express reported that India might not accept aid from the United Kingdom after April 2011. India has been the largest single recipient of British aid, receiving more than €800m (about $1.25b) since 2008. This announcement is perhaps symbolic of the fine line that India is walking between being a “developed” and “developing” country. It is the eleventh largest economy in the world, growing 8-9% annually. But it is also home to one-third of the world’s poor—there are more poor people in India than in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nonetheless, over the past decade, India has quietly transitioned to a donor country, emerging on the world stage as a significant provider of development assistance.

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