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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.

 

Is USAID Set Up to Fail on Disaster Reconstruction?

With Hurricane Irma now pushing a devastating path through the Caribbean, USAID is gearing up to do what it does best. Its Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) do amazing work—deploying rapidly in the wake of natural hazards like hurricanes and often bringing the logistical might of the US military with them. These teams go in big and fast to save lives, distribute food, set up emergency shelter, and prevent secondary impacts like disease outbreaks. But then things begin to falter. 

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.

How to Help Haiti in the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

In Haiti, already the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Hurricane Matthew’s devastation is still being calculated. We know that hundreds of people have died, and the damage to Haiti’s already-fragile infrastructure is immense. So what can people in rich countries do to help? Based on the latest research on humanitarian disaster relief and on the lessons learned in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, here are some do’s and some don’ts for policymakers and individuals.

Dude, Where’s My Cat Bond?

 “Cat” bonds are effectively a cheaper source of large-scale insurance coverage against clearly measured risks like earthquakes, storms, or even disease outbreaks. Generally, though, coverage hasn’t trickled down to the poorer and most at-risk countries—precisely those which are most vulnerable when aid fails to arrive or arrives piecemeal. Scaling up this market for lower-income countries would provide better shielding against many risks that undermine development overseas.

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.

Does US Food Aid Have to Pit the Philippines Against Syria?

This is a joint post with Will McKitterick.

On NPR this morning, Dan Charles told Morning Edition Host Renee Montagne that the Philippines is fortunate that the typhoon struck early in the US government’s fiscal year, when “there's plenty of cash available to spend” for food aid. That means that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was able to immediately provide $8 million for World Food Programme (WFP) relief operations, with a promise of $10 million to $15 million more later. Had the typhoon struck a few months earlier, however, cash for such crises would have been exhausted by relief operations in Syria.

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