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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.

 

CGD’s Panel at the #HLM2 in Nairobi: Can Insurance Fix Emergency and Humanitarian Aid?

Can insurance really make emergency aid better, faster, and fairer? That was the question we posed to the impressive panel that we convened last week in Nairobi at the second high level meetings of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. The panel brought together two critical skills to improving emergency aid: development expertise and risk management nous, and we left with four strong takeaways.

Emergency Aid is Broken: Expert Panel at CGD on How to Make Disasters Dull

Financing for humanitarian aid is broken. The costs of rapid- (like cyclones) and slow- (like drought) onset disasters are concentrated in poor, vulnerable countries, with a bill to donors of more than $19 billion last year. But far too often, we wait until crises develop before funding the response—what experts at CGD’s recent panel event (recording available at the link) described as a medieval approach of passing around begging bowls and relying on benefactorsThe delays make crises worse. And since money shows up, however imperfectly, when things go wrong, it undermines incentives to build resilience, relegating vulnerable people to depending on fickle goodwill.

Filipinos Like Typhoon Relief Transparency

Something surprising happened this week after my colleagues Vijaya Ramachandran and Owen Barder posted a call for donors providing help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a Yolanda) to rapidly post data on their plans and actions. Their post, Let’s Not Help the Philippines Like We Helped Haiti, which argued for helping the Philippines better through aid transparency, went viral overnight as thousands of Filipinos around the world visited the page and “liked” it on Facebook.

Let’s Not Help the Philippines Like We Helped Haiti

The immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, such as that the typhoon which devastated part of the Phillipines on Friday, can bring out the best of the global community. There will come a time to discuss how we can do more to prevent the environmental changes which make such events more likely; but the immediate priority is to get water, food and shelter to people who urgently need it. 

Haiti: Three Years After the Quake and Not Much Has Changed

January 12 will mark the third anniversary of the tragic Haiti earthquake that killed over 220,000 people, displaced millions, and flattened much of Port au Prince. Damage and losses estimated at $7.8 billion exceeded Haiti’s entire GDP at the time. The country received unprecedented support in response: more than $9 billion has been disbursed to Haiti in public and private funding since 2010. Private donations alone reached $3 billion, much of it from individuals donating small sums via text messages to the Red Cross and other charities. Official donors tripled their assistance from 2009; in 2010 aid flows were 400 percent of the Haitian government’s domestic revenue.

U.S. aid, global poverty, and the earthquake/tsunami death toll

Even as the tragedy in Asia elicits an outpouring of charity from Americans, it has sparked controversy over whether America is in fact generous. President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Andrew Natsios have all asserted that America is generous. What are the facts?