Ideas to Action:

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CGD in the News

October 5, 2018

OBOR vs. USIDFC: America tracks the Chinese in Africa (Perspectives)

Note: Translated from French using Google Translate

By Perspectives 

From the article: 

The US Senate passed a text on October 3 creating the USIDFC, a new development finance institution. The agency is Donald Trump's response to the Chinese initiative "One Belt, One Road", while Xi Jinping announced early September $ 60 billion for the development of Africa.

"It is no exaggeration to say that this is the biggest step forward in US development policy since at least the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2004 and the launch of PEPFAR [ President's Emergency Plan for AIDS]. Relief, ed] in 2003, "explain Todd Moss and Erin Collinson of the Center for Global Development.  

On October 3, Democratic and Republican senators, in a rare spirit of bipartisanship, adopted the BUILD Act, the law for a better use of investments leading to development, by a majority of 93 against 6. The BUILD Act merges several US government agencies into a new organization, the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) , with the power to grant $ 60 billion in funding.

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July 5, 2018

Measuring Up: USAID Proposes New Indicators to Assess Countries’ “Journey to Self-Reliance” (New Security Beat)

“At the heart of…USAID’s transformation, is the core belief that each country must lead its development journey, and finance and implement solutions to its development challenges,” said Susan Fine of USAID at a recent Center for Global Development event introducing USAID’s new “Journey to Self-Reliance ” indicators.


“Using data is always preferable to relying on assumptions,” said Sarah Rose of the Center for Global Development. However, “no set of cross-country indicators is ever going to provide a complete picture or be able to fully answer everything you need to know about development.” The challenge lies in “ensuring that everyone who uses this tool…also utilizes it with a keen focus on some of the limitations as well,” said Rose.

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February 28, 2018

Can A Cash-On-Delivery Model Work For Global Aid? (Down to Earth)

From the article:

...Clearly, COD works where outcomes are measurable, and preferably achieved in a short time, as in the example of the Norwegian project on checking carbon emissions. But, as many critics have pointed out, the obsession with outcomes could result in denying funds to many desirable projects where the outcomes are not so tangible, say, for example, reducing crime by changing adolescent behaviour. 

COD is just one of many financial nostrums proposed by the aid bureaucracy as cash-strapped advanced economies resort to austerity measures. Borrowed mostly from the corporate repertoire, they go by various names like Aid for Trade (AfT) and Value for Money (VfM). Following Donald Trump Administration’s proposal to drastically cut US’ foreign aid, a paper by the Centre for Global Development suggested a few more: for instance, the increasingly popular direct cash transfers, which, it claims, lowers cost and increases impact; evidence-based policy making, which allows scant resources to be allotted to proven projects; and increasing leverage by investing in development projects engineered by multilateral institutions.

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February 23, 2018

Opinion: Beyond Aid — 7 Steps To Responsible Transition (Devex)

From the article:

The goal of foreign assistance should be to create the conditions under which it is no longer necessary — a compelling vision articulated by USAID Administrator Mark Green. Yet the specifics of how and when to end U.S. development programs in a country is one of the most fundamental questions for the White House and Congress, as well as the development community. Together we must chart a responsible path for transitioning countries from aid beneficiaries to broader strategic trade and security partners with the United States.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and over 100 international development nonprofits, faith-based organizations, businesses, and prominent experts have endorsed the following seven clear principles as a guide to achieving this ultimate goal. These seven principles also include useful lessons learned from USAID’s past transitions in practice, noting successes to build on and pitfalls to avoid.
1. Advance country ownership
When USAID closed its mission in Panama in 2012 after a process of consultation with the host country, the first lady of Panama remarked that the “transition, jointly planned and agreed to at high levels,” was a “reflection of progress we have made” together. Like good development programs, good transitions don’t just deliver results; they align with local priorities and strengthen local civil society, government, and private sector capacity to sustain them. Transition planning and implementation should be a joint exercise with partner countries and coordinated with Congress, U.S. agencies, and donor organizations.
2. Determine transition readiness by development progress
Responsible transitions cannot be based on arbitrary budget targets and timelines. When considering transition readiness, the first place to look is at national and subnational indications of development progress: Is the country fostering inclusive economic growth, governing capably, and protecting human rights at the national and local levels? For all groups of people? For example, although Panama had achieved significant development progress in the 2000s, for several years prior to USAID’s mission closure, USAID-funded programs specifically focused on government and civil society capacity-building to help the country sustain gains post-transition. As experts at the Center for Global Development recently noted, development indicators won’t automatically determine transition, but they can indicate that it is time to talk about what’s next.

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January 5, 2018

Reality Check: How Can A US President Cut Off Foreign Aid? (BBC)

From the article:
The Trump administration has announced that it is cutting aid to Pakistan, days after the president threatened on Twitter to do so.
He's also made similar threats towards the Palestinians, as well as towards countries that backed a United Nations resolution opposing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
So what are the ways in which a US administration can cut off foreign aid?
The answer is complicated, and depends on the type of aid, as well as the specific country or group receiving it.
So it would be almost impossible for the president to cut off aid from all 128 countries that voted for the UN resolution in one fell swoop...
It is the US Congress, not the president, that has the final say on the foreign aid budget.
Because all spending has to be signed off by Congress, it "holds the power of the purse strings", says Erin Collinson from the Center for Global Development, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington and London.
Congress can approve or alter the administration's budgetary proposals and can also specify in substantial detail where it wants the aid to go - even if that's in opposition to what the president wants.