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One hundred days into the Obama administration many in the development community are asking: where is the USAID administrator? Impatience is mounting for news of leadership on development policy and reform of U.S. foreign assistance. President Obama named his picks to lead defense and diplomacy—Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton—well before he took office.
The global economic crisis presents a challenge and an opportunity to do better with U.S. assistance to Africa said CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health last week. Not surprisingly, doing better in Africa requires the same steps towards broad U.S.
I had the privilege of speaking at Dambisa Moyo’s first Washington DC event, held recently at the Cato Institute (watch the webcast here). Her book Dead Aid is a full-frontal attack on aid to Africa (and has attracted an extraordinary amount of media attention). As much of my own work has been highly critical of the aid business, it was somewhat unusual (and a little awkward) to find myself mostly defending foreign aid.
As President Obama was making his way to the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last week, many hoped for something more concrete than just a fresh start with our neighbors in Latin America, who felt neglected and ignored for the past eight years. Those of us hoping that the president might take the opportunity to announce plans to seek congressional approval for two trade agreements that have been pending for two years or more--with Panama and Colombia--were disappointed.
To all those concerned about the future of foreign aid, please take the opportunity to read the works included in CGD’s new Innovations in Aid mini-series. The first paper in this series “The End of ODA” is by Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray, and though it was started before the current global financial crisis reached its height, it is more relevant today than ever before. In this paper Severino and Ray describe shifts in the objectives of ODA (official development assistance) over time, and conclude that it is time to reform the concept and rename it “Global Policy Finance”.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development held a hearing last week on “USAID in the 21st Century: What Do We Need for the Task at Hand?” CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet, Georgetown professor and CGD visit