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CGD in the News

May 24, 2018

Blockchain For Social Good Hype Requires 'Recalibration,' Ex-Treasury Official Argues (Forbes)

From the article:

Blockchain technology has generated enormous buzz in the international development community recently, being touted as an elixir to the thorny issues that economic theorists and World Bank technocrats have trudged away at for decades. 
 
Whether it’s solving climate change, curing poverty or bringing financial inclusion and digital identities to billions -  no problem is so great that it can’t be tamed by the blockchain, the narrative goes. 
 
But Michael Pisa, a fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., argues that while blockchain offers the development community an important and powerful new tool, a never-ending echo chamber of hype and unrealistic expectations aren’t going to help anybody. 
 
In a forthcoming essay for CGD, Pisa calls on the blockchain for social impact community to “recalibrate” its expectations of what the technology can and can’t do, to direct focus toward the use cases that offer the most true potential and to deploy greater efforts toward overcoming the substantial barriers to adoption that still exist even in the low-hanging fruit areas. 
 

Read the full article here

May 24, 2018

A Radical Proposal To Fight Poverty In The Developing World: Tax The Rich More Than The Poor (Vox)

From the article (op-ed by Charles Kenny and Justin Sandefur)

The world’s poorest people have been getting richer recently, but they remain incredibly poor, with 10 percent of the world’s population still consuming $1.90 or less a day — a small fraction of the resources available to people at the US poverty line.
 
Here is a radical proposal that could improve their lot: progressive taxation and welfare systems.
 
That may seem so obvious as to not be worth mentioning. In the developed world, government taxes together with transfer systems like welfare payments are readily accepted as one way reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. That’s true even in the United States, where laissez-faire is a state religion.
 
But new data on taxation and spending in the world’s poorest countries suggests that progressive tax-and-transfer systems are far less common than you would think. In general, taxes are less progressive in those countries, financial transfers are much smaller, and the bulk of social spending is soaked up by broken health and education systems. The net effect is often that tax-and-transfer policies leave poor people worse off, not better.
 
Tax and transfer systems reduce inequality in the rich world but can exacerbate poverty in the poorest countries
 

Read the full article here

May 24, 2018

MDB Private Finance Operations: Lenders or Mobilisers? (ECDPM)

Much is expected of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) as the international community confronts the daunting challenge of financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The MDBs, especially their private sector windows (PSWs), are rightly regarded as essential actors in the challenge of moving from billions to the trillions of dollars of private finance necessary to fill yawning SDG finance gaps.

Read the full article here

May 23, 2018

World Bank Staff Warn About Trying To Do More, While Getting Paid Less (Devex)

WASHINGTON — World Bank staff representatives are worried the historic capital increase deal reached at the annual meetings last month will mean bank employees are asked to do more while being paid less.
 
The staff association has reiterated its concern that the agreement to infuse more capital into the institution has come at the expense of staff salary growth, a compromise they argue could make the bank less competitive for future job candidates. Others say the bank’s employees should remember that even if salary growth gets trimmed, a bigger World Bank is ultimately good news for staff.
 
...The World Bank staff association has argued the board should view the bank as competing more closely with private sector employers than with public institutions, but not everyone agrees with that view.
 
“Let’s do a direct comparison of bank salaries with the salaries of public employees in their membership,” said Scott Morris, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and former United States Treasury official.
 
 
 
May 22, 2018

U.S. Announces Additional $7 Million Donation In Fight Against Ebola In Congo (Huffington Post)

From the article:

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday announced that the U.S. is contributing an additional $7 million to fight the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the U.S. Agency for International Development’s $1 million donation.

...Jeremy Konyndyk, who helped lead the 2014 Ebola response for the Obama administration, said the increase was a “substantial contribution” that deserves credit. Konyndyk is now a senior policy fellow for the Washington-based Center for Global Development. 

“Strong up-front funding like this reflects the reality that it is far cheaper to contain disease outbreaks early via a proactive ― rather than reactive ― response operation,” Konyndyk told HuffPost.
 

Read the full article here

May 22, 2018

Ebola, Amnesia And Donald Trump (New York Times)

From the article:

On Monday, a team led by the World Health Organization began inoculating people in the Democratic Republic of Congo against the Ebola virus with an experimental vaccine in an attempt to quell an outbreak of the disease that began in early May.
 
If the effort succeeds, and maybe even if it doesn’t, it will go down in history as the first time Ebola was met with more than just the crude tools of quarantine and hospice care.
 
That medical aid workers could begin such a campaign so quickly — within just two weeks of the earliest reported cases of the disease — is a testament to how well the lessons of the 2014 Ebola outbreak have been learned. That crisis raged across West Africa for more than a year, growing into a full-blown epidemic, claiming 11,300 lives — and yes, reaching American shores — before it was finally halted at a cost that exceeded $5.6 billion for the United States alone. Experts blamed the slow, uncoordinated response for the high death toll and steep price tag.
 
This time, things appear to be different: Doctors and scientists were deployed to the threatened region within days of the earliest reports of the disease, and by all accounts, global, national and nonprofit organizations have coordinated their efforts well.
 
To be sure, this latest resurgence of Ebola is still cause for concern. Forty-six cases have been reported so far, with 26 deaths, and the disease has already spread from the country’s remote northern reaches to a populous port city. But so far, the World Health Organization has not declared the crisis a “public health emergency of international concern,” the agency’s most serious designation. If efforts succeed, health officials say, the scourge could be eradicated by summer’s end.
 
“A lot of what’s working now is the result of remembering and learning from previous failures,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and the director of foreign disaster assistance at the United States Agency for International Development during the Obama administration.
 

Read the full article here

May 21, 2018

What To Watch At This Year's World Health Assembly (Devex)

From the article:

GENEVA — With Ebola back in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this year’s World Health Assembly sees the threat of pandemic diseases and the fragility of global health security once again at the forefront of the global health leaders’ minds.
 
While the virus is endemic in DRC, this latest outbreak has raised particular concern after a patient was confirmed to have contracted the virus in one of the health zones in Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million and a major port town next to the Congo river. Nine countries, including the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, are at high risk of transmission.
 
...The focus Ebola is receiving against the backdrop of the organization’s most important annual meetings provides the U.N. aid agency an opportunity to showcase leadership and demonstrate that the reforms it has taken since the last outbreak are proving to be effective.
 
Improved confidence in the agency could have ripple effects on other agenda items at the weeklong meetings in Geneva. Member states will be evaluating funding for WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, which as of March 2018, had received “no new multi-year funding agreement,” and deciding the fate of the organization’s draft 13th General Programme of Work, which Tedros said is the “most important” action item at this year’s assembly.
 
Tedros aims for member states to endorse the GPW in this year’s assembly, allowing him to fast-track a process that traditionally takes at least two years.
 
But again, whether that confidence will translate to a fully funded GPW remains to be seen.
 
“We do remain encouraged by the emphasis on measurable goals, outcomes, and impact throughout the [GPW]. However, the aspirational plans versus the high-level financial estimate of $10.8 billion over five years of course I think will remain a key debate. This represents about $1.2 billion over the previous GPW, and consequently, while the strategy is promising, there will be discussion related to the feasibility of the proposal,” said Elisa Adelman, health officer from the Office of Health Systems and WHO liaison at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in a panel at the Center for Global Development last week ahead of WHA.
 

Read the full article here

May 20, 2018

Venezuela Chooses Its Next President (BBC)

Summary of the episode: 

After years of turmoil which at one point saw almost daily street protests, President Nicolas Maduro is looking to consolidate his power. Most of the opposition is boycotting the vote.

Listen to the episode here 

(Jeremy's interview starts around 29.56 and ends at 36.02)

May 18, 2018

Top Democrats Want Answers On Global Health Security Head's Sudden Departure (Huffington Post)

From the article:

...Andrea Hall and Dr. Luciana Borio are leading the current Ebola response, an NSC spokesperson told HuffPost Wednesday. Hall heads the NSC unit focused on weapons of mass destruction, which absorbed some of Ziemer’s global health security staff. Borio, who was formerly on Ziemer’s team, is the director of medical and biodefense preparedness policy.
 
But global health experts have continued to express concerns over who will be permanently leading pandemic response at the White House, saying the demotion of the health portfolio to a subset of WMD fails to recognize its importance to national security.
 
Jeremy Konyndyk, who led parts of the 2014 Ebola response for the Obama administration and is now a senior policy fellow for the Washington-based Center for Global Development, said the senators were asking fair questions.  
 
“Going from a senior director lead to a director-level lead on the NSC matters,” Konyndyk said. “Senior directors carry more weight with Cabinet officials and have better access to the president and national security adviser ― both important factors in ensuring the White House stays on top of health crises.”
 

Read the full article here

May 18, 2018

USAID Donates $1 Million To Fight Ebola Outbreak In DR Congo (Huffington Post)

From the article:

The U.S. is sending $1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to fight the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a USAID spokesman told HuffPost Friday.

The U.S. funding will join the less than $9 million contributed so far by the World Health Organization’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, The Wellcome Trust, the U.K., the United Nations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

...Jeremy Konyndyk, who led parts of the 2014 Ebola response for the Obama administration, told HuffPost the dissolution of the global health security directorate is concerning. Konyndyk is now a senior policy fellow for the Washington-based Center for Global Development.

“Going from a senior director lead to a director-level lead on the NSC matters,” Konyndyk said. “Senior directors carry more weight with Cabinet officials and have better access to the president and national security adviser ― both important factors in ensuring the White House stays on top of health crises.”

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