Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

February 21, 2019

Pregnant women to be given Ebola vaccine in WHO policy U-turn (The Telegraph)

From the article:

Pregnant and breastfeeding women will be given the experimental Ebola vaccine, marking a U-turn in World Health Organization (WHO) policy. 

A meeting of the WHO's expert vaccine advisory group reversed a previous decision to deny pregnant women the vaccine because there was not enough evidence of its safety.

Pregnant women are usually excluded from all immunisation campaigns because vaccines against infectious diseases like Ebola are rarely tested or approved for use in pregnant women.


Last year a report from an international group of experts called for pregnant women to be included in vaccine development and campaigns.

It said the exclusion of pregnant women from vaccine research and development was unacceptable and “business as usual simply cannot continue”.

Carleigh Krubiner, one of the authors of that report, welcomed WHO's policy reversal.

“This policy change will enable pregnant and lactating women to benefit from the protection the vaccine offers against Ebola infection, safeguarding their lives while also protecting their babies, families, and communities.

"It will also provide a critical opportunity to advance the evidence base on the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine so that decision makers in the future will be able to make informed decisions about how best to protect their populations, including pregnant women, in the event of an outbreak,” she said. 

She added that pregnant women should no longer be left out of vaccine development strategies. "With global efforts now underway to develop a range of vaccines against devastating epidemic threats, we have to make sure pregnant women are on the agenda, so they will never again be left unprotected in the face of future outbreaks.”


February 21, 2019

Ebola vaccine will be provided to women who are pregnant, marking reversal in policy (STAT)

From the article:

Women who are pregnant and lactating, as well as children under the age of 1, will be offered access to an experimental Ebola vaccine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, officials said Wednesday, marking the reversal of a controversial policy that had drawn fire from public health experts.

The decision was made by a committee advising the Congolese Ministry of Health, but received the support of the World Health Organization.

The decision to exclude pregnant women from the vaccination program sparked blowback from some experts, with some calling the policy “indefensible.”


Carleigh Krubiner, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, welcomed the news.

“The DRC’s decision to extend Ebola vaccine coverage to pregnant women is a huge step forward, not only for pregnant women in areas affected by outbreaks but for all pregnant women who may face the threat of Ebola in the future,” Krubiner said in a statement.

To date, there have been 844 confirmed and probable cases in this outbreak, which is now in its seventh month. Of those, 528 people have died.

Krubiner said the policy reversal will not only offer pregnant women the protection of the vaccine, but also provide a critical chance to see how the vaccine, which is being developed by Merck, works in these women. That knowledge will be of benefit in future outbreaks, she said.

Reluctance to offer the vaccine to pregnant and lactating women has stemmed from the fact it is a live-virus vaccine. The virus it contains is not Ebola; it is a livestock virus called vesicular stomatitis virus that can infect, but does not sicken people. A key protein from the Ebola virus has been fused to the VSV virus, which then induces the immune system to develop a protective response when it encounters Ebola.

Traditionally there has been concern about using live-virus vaccines in pregnant women. Krubiner and others have argued that women ought to be informed of the risks and offered the choice.

February 21, 2019

China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative (Council on Foreign Relations)

From the article:

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the launch of both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, infrastructure development and investment initiatives that would stretch from East Asia to Europe. The project, eventually termed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but sometimes known as the New Silk Road, is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived. It harkens back to the original Silk Road, which connected Europe to Asia centuries ago, enriching traders from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Some analysts see the project as an unsettling extension of China’s rising power, and as the costs of many of the proposed projects have skyrocketed, opposition has grown in some participant countries. Meanwhile, the United States shares the concern of some in Asia that the BRI could be a Trojan horse for China-led regional development, military expansion, and Beijing-controlled institutions. Under President Donald J. Trump, Washington has raised alarm over Beijing’s actions even as it has abandoned some U.S. efforts to isolate China and deepen its own ties with economic partners in the region.


What are the potential roadblocks ahead?

While several developing countries in need of new roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure have welcomed BRI investments, the initiative has also stoked opposition. For some countries that take on large amounts of debt to fund the necessary infrastructure, BRI money is seen as a potential poisoned chalice. BRI projects are built with low-interest loans as opposed to aid grants, explain CFR’s Alyssa Ayres and Elizabeth C. Economy and Johns Hopkins’s Daniel Markey. Some BRI investments have required the use of Chinese firms and their bidding processes have lacked transparency. As a result, contractors have inflated costs, leading to canceled projects and political pushback.

Examples of such criticisms abound. In Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena sought to renegotiate Colombo’s repayment schedule, but China asked for a long lease on a major port in return for debt forgiveness—some reports indicate Sri Lanka owed $13 billion on its debt in 2018, with expected total government revenues of just $14 billion. In Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, elected prime minister in 2018, campaigned against overpriced BRI initiatives, which he claimed were partially re-directed to funds controlled by his predecessor. Once in office, he canceled $22 billion worth of BRI projects. The new Maldivian government has also begun to unwind some of the BRI projects introduced under former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, while the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is at risk as Islamabad faces a balance-of-payments crisis. In 2018, as debts to China began to weigh on its economy, Pakistan sought billions of dollars in loans from Saudi Arabia, the International Monetary Fund, and China.

More such stories are likely, according to a report by the Center for Global Development, which notes that eight BRI countries are vulnerable to debt crises. Five of the eight border China, and two more—Djibouti and the Maldives—are choke points on the Maritime Silk Road.

Arguments against the BRI have in some cases helped propel politicians across the region into office. Christopher Balding, a former professor at the HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, says that the BRI’s “no-strings approach” has, counterintuitively, made some of its investments less attractive. The approach “has fueled corruption while allowing governments to burden their countries with unpayable debts,” he says. Political backlash is perhaps less of a concern in authoritarian countries taking part in the BRI, where autocrats face less public scrutiny and where the Chinese model of governance might hold more appeal. But some governments, in places such as Kenya and Zambia, are carefully studying BRI investments before they sign up, and candidates in Malaysia have explicitly run—and won—campaigns on anti-BRI platforms.



February 20, 2019

How (and how not) to reform the World Bank (Talk Media News)

From the article:

President Trump has named his selection to lead the World Bank.

David Malpass is a veteran of Ronald Reagan’s Treasury Department and the George H. W. Bush’s State Department, but it’s his more recent criticisms of the World Bank’s size and of multilateralism in general that are turning heads.

With America already pulling back from the United Nations, NATO and other multilateral institutions, is the World Bank next?

This week on ‘Wake’ we’ll look at the history, present and future of the World Bank and consider how it could change in the Trump era.


·         Nancy Birdsall, founding president, Center for Global Development

·         Catherine Weaver, professor of public policy, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

Listen here!


February 20, 2019

India's re-entry to PISA triggers mixed response (Devex)

From the article:

LONDON — India’s decision to rejoin a prestigious global education ranking has been welcomed by education experts as a positive signal, but some questioned whether the move will bring about meaningful reform.

In January, the Indian government announced its plan to rejoin the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, after a 10-year absence. The country dropped out of the ranking, run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 2009 after being placed 72nd out of 74 nations.


Anit Mukherjee, a policy fellow focusing on education at the Center for Global Development, told Devex that by having Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas schools take part in the test, the government is trying to have more control over the sample in the hopes of getting a better score. However, he said this is not unusual and that other countries have done the same.

“Learning outcome measurement across the world against a global benchmark is good … I would rather have India going to PISA in some way which is acceptable to both the government in India and OECD than to sit outside, otherwise we don’t have any comparator,” he said.



February 20, 2019

Growth Alone Won’t Help the Poor (Foreign Policy)

From the article:

The global economy, in terms of GDP per capita, grew by 32 percent between 1990 and 2010. This growth has helped lift more than a billion people worldwide out of poverty, nearly cutting in half the 1990 global poverty rate.

However, using the same yardstick for measuring poverty across the developing world—and defining poverty as earning $1.25 or less per person per day (adjusted for price differences across the world)—the number of Nigerians in poverty between 1992 and 2010 increased to 70 percent of the population, an increase of 22 percent from the rate in 1992. Clearly, global growth was not good for Nigeria’s most vulnerable citizens. The poor were not lifted by the rising tide; instead, they were left to sink.

As of 2010, 7 out of 10 Nigerians were considered poor. And according to a study from the Center for Global Development, most of the poor are from the north of the country, with more than two-thirds at risk of spending their lifetime in poverty. This is despite a rise in the country’s GDP per capita by about 19 percent and a decline in the level of inequality.


The challenge for the next government, therefore, is to generate more growth while at the same time dealing with inequality and reducing poverty. The challenge for the next government, therefore, is to generate more growth while at the same time dealing with inequality and reducing poverty.

Whoever wins the election should take two steps: First, since Nigeria is an oil-rich country, it should attempt to implement a proposal developed by Todd Moss and his colleagues at the Center for Global Development—using oil revenues to make direct cash transfers to the poor, counting such transfers as income, and subjecting them to taxation, a policy that would enhance accountability and reduce official corruption. Although the current government is running a cash transfer program of 5,000 naira (approximately $14) per month per household, this won’t bring relief  because fewer than 1 per cent of poor people are benefiting and the amount isn’t enough to boost the welfare of the poor in an economy currently experiencing inflation. Without an increase and an expansion of the number of beneficiaries it won’t do much to reduce poverty.


February 14, 2019

Letters to the editor (The Economist)

From the article:

We want a proper contest

You are right that Donald Trump could have picked a less-qualified American than David Malpass to lead the World Bank, but you are wrong in thinking that the rest of the world should sigh with relief, hold its nose and accept him (“A qualified pass”, February 9th). Nominations for the job are open for another month. Until then, the shareholders, and The Economist, should keep an open mind. When all the candidates are known, the bank’s board can assess them against the qualifications it has agreed on, which does not include being the candidate nominated by America.

In the 21st century the World Bank will have a useful future only if it can evolve into a club of countries with the resources and legitimacy to tackle a growing list of shared challenges such as climate change, financial instability, the refugee crisis, pandemics and boosting investment to build prosperity. The informal bargain that lets America decide who should lead the bank was an anachronism even when it was struck more than 70 years ago. It should now be consigned to history, especially as the bank no longer depends on American financing. The Europeans may worry that they will therefore lose the right to nominate the head of the imf: good. Both institutions deserve better.

Owen Barder Centre for Global Development London

February 14, 2019

No-deal Brexit, Europe's EBA & Bangladesh: Hitting home, fighting back (The Financial Express)

From the article:

Bangladesh stands to become the worst-hit less developed countries (LDCs) in a "no-deal" March 29 Brexit outcome. That calculation, made by the Centre for Global Development (CGD), is built upon the European Union's "everything-but-arms" (EBA) trading scheme evaporating for Britain: unless Britain recreates its own LDC trade agreements, with LDC concessions, LDC losses would be staggering. Yet building them involves lengthy negotiations.

Up to 49 LDC exporters to the European Union (EU) receive duty-free and quota-free privileges for almost every product shipped. Since almost two-thirds of Bangladesh's RMG (ready-made garments) exports go to Europe, without Great Britain's (GB's) EBA benefits, Bangladesh stands to lose $4.0 billion, according to the CGD forecast. For a country borrowing heavily and relying increasingly on exports and remittances to pay for its ambitious (but critically needed) infrastructural megaprojects, that matters. With a Brexit deal, Bangladesh would remain largely unaffected.

Click here to read the blog post

February 13, 2019

SDG Knowledge Weekly: Policy Coherence in the EU and Beyond (IISD)

From the article:

This week’s brief summarizes several reports and analyses on policy coherence and interlinkages across the SDG framework in Europe, Asia and Latin America. We also review thought leadership on other forms of means of implementation in Europe, focusing on the EU’s financial architecture and external investment.


The Center for Global Development published a policy paper titled, ‘The EU’s Financial Architecture for External Investment: Progress, Challenges, and Options.’ The authors describe the evolution of the European financial architecture, including blending strategies, guarantees, the External Investment Plan (EIP) launched in 2017, and a proposed investment framework. Noting that the EIP aims to increase the scale, impact and coherence of EU-supported external investment, the paper documents lessons learned during its first year of implementation. The authors call for “greater policy steer to investors;” increasing competition among institutions for investment support; setting clear guidance and fee structures; and standardizing contractual terms, among other recommendations.


February 13, 2019

Ivanka Trump Launches $50 Million Program To Empower Women In The Workplace (NPR)

From the article:

First daughter Ivanka Trump wants to help 50 million women around the world "realize their economic potential" by 2025.

Experts who work with women's issues in the global development community are hopeful about the new initiative – but raise questions about the timing of the announcement and the lack of specifics.


Nancy Lee, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former U.S. Treasury official, says the initiative could be truly transformative if it actually brings women's issues to the forefront of all development efforts – whether that means including women in the efforts of farmers to bring food to market or inviting them to be leaders in a peace-building efforts.