Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

Modeling What the New GOP House Means for U.S. Aid to Africa (Hint: -$900m)

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz.

Our colleagues Sarah Jane Staats and Connie Veillette have already explained how the recent election results might affect foreign aid. The 150 Account, which includes aid, is a prime target as Congress takes aim at the budget deficit. One silver lining may be that belt-tightening could also force compromise on long-overdue reforms.

But what can we learn from history?

Too Big to Succeed? Why (W)Hole-of-Government Cannot Work for U.S. Development Policy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

While talking beautifully about its development plans, the Administration is really not living up to its rhetoric of elevating development to equal status with diplomacy and defense, the so-called 3Ds. If development is really such an equal partner alongside defense and diplomacy, why is USAID increasingly a minor subcomponent of the State department? The promises of making USAID the “world’s premier development agency” are ringing embarrassingly hollow. How can an agency be influential when it doesn’t even control its own budget or set its own strategic priorities? Even in areas where USAID has traditionally been very strong—disaster relief and food security, for instance—the State Department has taken over. (The Feed-the-Future initiative is effectively directed by State and, despite early promises that USAID would lead on Haitian earthquake relief and reconstruction, it was recently leaked that a State coordinator is running the show.) And it should hardly be surprising that USAID is getting its lunch eaten in the interagency when it had no head for a year and, nearly two years in, still has less than half of its top managers on the job.

But what if the problems of the 3Ds aren’t really about the staff vacancies, the battle of Washington egos, and an empire-building State Department? What if the real problem is that the much-vaunted “whole-of-government” approach is fundamentally unworkable in the United States?

President Bush’s Enduring Legacy

Bipartisanship made a reappearance in a most unlikely place last Wednesday – at the podium of the United Nations.  In his address to the United National Millennium Development Goals Summit, President Obama unveiled his “new” approach to development, emphasizing a focus on results, investing in countries committed to their own development through sound governance and democracy, tapping the forces of the economic growth through entrepreneurship and trade, and the need for mutual accountability between developed and developing countries.  In doing so, he followed precisely in the footsteps of

Fresh Ideas for Haiti Begin to Take Hold

Following the devastating earthquake in January, CGD experts offered fresh ideas on how the U.S. and the international community could help Haiti rebuild, particularly through non-aid channels. Several recent developments in the U.S. legislative branch reflect or build upon these ideas:

Trade

More HOPE, and HELP, for Haiti, but Congress Still Holds Back

Nearly four months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, and after receiving a letter from former Presidents William Clinton and George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress seems prepared to expand access for Haitian apparel exports with the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act. This is important because apparel is one of the few sectors, outside of construction, that can quickly create formal sector jobs for thousands of desperate Haitians, particularly women.

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