On June 30, 2020, CGD senior policy fellow Jeremy Konyndyk testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing titled "COVID-19 and U.S. International Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention, and Response: Additional Perspectives." Konyndyk's testimony highlighted key elements needed for an effective US approach to pandemic preparedness and response and examined the role of the critical role played by the World Health Organization in responding to global health crises.
The novel coronavirus outbreak that emerged in late 2019 has infected tens of thousands in China, community transmission is feared in other countries, and containment looks increasingly unlikely.
Meaningful progress on the goal of reducing global extreme poverty requires meeting the development needs of vulnerable populations in fragile contexts; but assistance in these contexts has traditionally been limited to short-term humanitarian aid, ill-equipped to address underlying development challenges.
To produce real systemic change, the aid system must move beyond technical and rhetorical approaches to accountability and begin reshaping the power and incentive structures that influence aid decision-making.
The world’s humanitarian aid architecture is growing outdated. Relief programs are most effective when they are integrated, locally owned, and demand driven. But humanitarian action in the 21st century remains constrained by a 20th-century aid model.
The proposed FY 2020 budget changes would be the most significant overhaul of USG humanitarian structures in decades. The proposal in its current form is unlikely to get much traction in Congress, where it is seen on both sides of the aisle as dramatically weakening US leadership on refugees. In light of other moves by the administration—like slashing refugee resettlement numbers and treating asylum seekers roughly—that is a legitimate and vital concern. There is ample reason to approach the proposal with caution, particularly the idea of stripping away the refugee bureau’s resources.