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Views from the Center

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Is Haiti Doomed to be the Republic of NGOs?

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

Two years ago, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, plunging an already poor and unstable country into complete and utter chaos. In the days and weeks that followed, international responses and donations were overwhelming. Yet almost all of the assistance provided to Haiti has bypassed its government, leaving it even less capable than before. Humanitarian agencies, NGOs, private contractors, and other non-state service providers have received 99 percent of relief aid—less than 1 percent of aid in the immediate aftermath of the quake went to public institutions or to the government. And only 23 percent of the longer-term recovery funding was channeled through the Haitian government. Figure 1 shows the breakdown of relief aid from all donors to Haiti, by recipient.

The United States Can Give Better Aid to Haiti

This commentary also appeared on The Huffington Post and Global Post

Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion.

But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti's future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti's people.

What Can Africa Hope For During Clinton Visit?

This blog also appeared on the Huffington Post

Secretary Clinton will be leaving August 5 for a seven-country tour of Africa. She will hit Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. (Whew!) The itinerary suggests that the theme of the trip will be more real politik than President Obama’s recent visit to Ghana which stressed good governance and was a celebration of Ghana’s recent electoral and economic successes. The Secretary, in choosing the largest economies and the continent’s most influential capitals, is likely to highlight more traditional U.S. economic and security interests. A few thoughts on what to expect -- and what Africa can hope for:

Washington Post Editorial Gets it Wrong on the Volcker Report on Corruption and the World Bank; Financial Times Does Better

A Washington Post editorial today ( A Fight Over Corruption ) says that the new report by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on the effectiveness of the World Bank's anti-corruption department, (the Institutional Integrity Department or INT)) "reserved its toughest language for the bank bureaucracy itself." The editorial then quotes from the report:

President Bush in Latin America: Democracy, Social Justice and a Dollop of Aid

President Bush is going to Latin America, and that has inspired a round of commentary in the mainstream press. A New York Times editorial urges the President to focus on democracy, human rights and social justice, and applauds the recent doubling of U.S. aid to the region. Democracy and social justice and a dollop of aid (the current budget of $1.6 billion is barely 1 percent of spending by Latin governments on health and education) are good things.

2006 Commitment to Development Index Launches

I am pleased to announce the release of the 2006 edition of the Commitment to Development Index. Each year the CDI rates and ranks 21 rich countries on how much their policies help or hurt poorer nations. The CDI assigns scores in seven policy areas (foreign aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology), with the average being the overall score.

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