Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Frontiers in Development - USAID

An extract from the new publication forward...

Never before has the world experienced such significant progress in human development and at the same time seen such rapid and unpredictable changes in the forces that affect development. 700 million fewer people live in absolute poverty today than 20 years ago. The share of children dying before their first birthday is half of what it was in 1975. 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, democracy has swept across developing countries. And today more developing countries are experiencing sustained broad-based economic growth than ever before. We at USAID are proud to be a part of this great progress. Our investments in health and education, support for agriculture and food security, encouragement of democracy and good governance, and assistance to governments in building capacity and encouraging private investment has helped build greater prosperity and stability, both for our partner countries and for the United States. 

But the forces affecting development are changing rapidly. Private-sector capital flows are seven times larger than what they were a decade ago, and now dwarf development assistance. The Arab Spring has ushered in new possibilities for democracy and growth in the Middle East, but also led to new challenges and uncertainties. Conflict and extreme poverty are increasingly intertwined. The growing success of many emerging markets has lifted millions from poverty, but also has unleashed much greater demand for natural resources, energy, and food. Climate change threatens to slow and possibly even reverse development gains in many countries. USAID and others working in developing countries must both embrace these changes and evolve with them in order to continue to be effective in supporting and sustaining development. 

Creating space to evaluate and better understand key development trends is essential to adapt to the rapid transformations in the development landscape. Rather than chase the latest fad or jump between shifting priorities, we must seize pivotal opportunities that we know can leave behind generational legacies of success. To that end, USAID is engaging with the smartest, most innovative, and most experienced thought-leaders and practitioners from around the world to stimulate debate around key development challenges and opportunities. 

We call this effort Frontiers in Development. Designed to encourage forward-looking, provocative discussion and debate and to strengthen the analysis, design, and implementation of development programs, Frontiers in Development is aimed at cultivating innovative analysis and leadership to expand the Agency’s learning and to increase our effectiveness.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Millennium Development Goals 2.0

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are widely cited as the primary yardstick against which advances in international development efforts are to be judged. At the same time, the Goals will be met or missed by 2015. 

It's not too soon to consider what comes after the Millennium Development Goals, say Center for Global Development's Charles Kenny and Jonathan Karver. What should the MDGs 2.0 look like? 

Their paper (link here) builds on a discussion that has already begun to address potential approaches, goals, and target indicators to help inform the process of developing a second generation of MDGs or ‘MDGs 2.0.’ The paper outlines potential goal areas based on the original Millennium Declaration, and the timeframe for any MDGs 2.0.  

As well, it attempts to calculate some reasonable targets associated with those goal areas.

Potential Areas for Numerical Targets

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

data for aid transparency

Last month, the Global Humanitarian Assistance data access and transparency program at Development Initiatives released its new restructured data store, which presents the seven core data sets that drive our analysis and products, mapping and quantifying the world of financing flows to humanitarian crises.
aid transparency
The data sets cover where the money comes from and where it goes, the actors involved, the funding mechanisms used, and the countries and projects prioritized, as well as the levels of funding provided.

Their unique data set on the international humanitarian financing response to crises is published here for the first time. They believe this data set provides the most comprehensive assessment of humanitarian financing contributions from governments — both members of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and other governments outside of the DAC – and private donors.

The data set on humanitarian financing flows via pooled humanitarian funds compiles for the first time comprehensive information on these transactions from the perspective of both donor and recipient countries.

GHA’s data has been drawn from a variety of sources, including OECD-DAC, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Financial Tracking Service and field offices, the World Bank, and the European Commission. It has been streamlined to form the following sets:
  1. International humanitarian response — What countries in crisis receive from international governments and private contributions.
  2. Official development assistance — What countries give and receive in the form of OECD-defined “aid” for sectors such as governance and security, education or health.
  3. Financing mechanisms — What countries give and receive through the Central Emergency Response Fund, emergency response funds and common humanitarian funds.
  4. Funding channels — How humanitarian financing flows through the system, be it through the United Nations, government agencies or nongovernmental organizations.
  5. Needs, crisis, vulnerability — What countries give and receive through the U.N. consolidated appeals process and non-CAP appeals; what we know about need from the EU’s crisis and vulnerability index.
  6. Capacity — What resources governments have to respond to crises within their own countries; what investments have been made in risk reduction.
  7. Reference tables — Summary tables on various indicators and indices.

The data store provides a vital resource for those involved in humanitarian policy, programming and performance. Whether donors, implementing partners or field workers, anyone with a sharp interest in having reliable up-to-date data at their fingertips will find this of great value.

The data store is created in Google spreadsheets to improve accessibility for users, who can download the data in a variety of formats, including XLS and CSV. This will be updated on a rolling basis, beginning in June, to include the latest data that drives our forthcoming GHA Report 2012.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Are Conditional Cash Programs Worth It?

In a recent Council on Foreign Relations article, Shannon ONeil analyzes "conditional cash programs".  An extract is below (and full post here):
In the economic development world, one of Latin America’s claims to fame are its conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs), which provide direct money transfers to low-income families who send their children to school and/or get basic health care. A few of these programs, such as Bolsa Família in Brazil and Oportunidades in Mexico, reach millions of families (some 20 percent of the two countries’ households). 

Others are smaller and more targeted toward the extreme poor, such as Chile Solidario in Chile, Familias en Acción in Colombia, and Bono de Desarrollo Humano in Ecuador. Most now boast at least a decade in place, providing a track record to test their reach and effectiveness.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cash On Delivery Aid Pilots

The Center for Global Development is involved in several pilots testing the COD approach in education with the UK DfID.  The COD overview below is taken from a presentation by Desmond Bermingham linked here:

The Idea of Cash on Delivery Aid

  • An open ‘contract’ offered by one or more funders for recipients to sign on
  • Specific amount for specific progress, e.g. $200 per child taking a competency test in the final year of primary school
  •  Not meant to substitute for existing aid

The Problem: Accountability goes in wrong directions

  • In high-income countries, taxes finance service delivery and taxpayers monitor quality
  • In aid-dependent countries, citizens have weak incentives to monitor aid-financed programs
  • Absent local scrutiny and weak outcome measurement, funders seek to control inputs
  • Neither funder nor recipient knows real production function

COD Aid builds on but differs from other approaches

  • Macro level (not household or provider)
  • Program outcomes that are incremental (not pass/fail like many policy conditions)
  • Measurement and transparency makes recipient government accountable to citizens rather than funders
  • Funders are also more accountable – to their own legislators and taxpayers for outcomes

Key features of COD Aid

  • Funder pays for outcomes, not inputs
  • Recipient chooses how to achieve progress not the funder (“Hands-off”)
  • Independently verified by a third party 
  • Transparent to the public
  • Complements other aid modalities

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Defining Humanitarianism

In a recent Stratfor commentary, Robert Kaplan discusses the move from counter-insurgency to maritime strategy and the implications for humanitarian work.  An extract is below...
The United States has made a choice, one in favor of an Indo-Pacific maritime strategy as opposed to a Middle East counterinsurgency strategy. This is not just a matter of what the Obama administration wants but of what the mandarins in the defense community in Washington demand. In other words, for example, there will be more submarines moving about in the South China Sea and fewer Army sergeants helping villagers on the ground in Afghanistan. To continue to conduct ground wars in the Muslim world, even as the U.S. Navy and Air Force pivot to Asia, could mean a rise of the defense budget by as much as a third over time. And that is not going to happen. A war against Iran would be an air-sea campaign; forget army divisions.
This means that the role of humanitarians will be diminished. Humanitarians were front and center advising the Army on how to win over civilian hearts and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though they might have opposed those wars at the outset. Humanitarians prefer to reduce foreign and defense policy to a branch of relief work; patrolling the sea lines of communication for the benefit of world trade simply does not interest them, while saving citizens of Benghazi from the depredations of Moammar Gadhafi's troops does. Humanitarians now demand some sort of action on Syria, even as many of them are oblivious to the rise of Chinese naval power.
Read the full article here at Stratfor.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A faith-based aid revolution in the Muslim world

Photo: IRIN
Some for you: Muslims are required to donate 2.5 percent of their wealth and assets to the poor every year
DUBAI, 1 June 2012 (IRIN) - Every year, somewhere between US$200 billion and $1 trillion are spent in “mandatory” alms and voluntary charity across the Muslim world, Islamic financial analysts estimate.

At the low end of the estimate, this is 15 times more than
global humanitarian aid contributions* in 2011.

With aid from traditional Western donors decreasing in the wake of a global recession, and with about a quarter of the Muslim world living on less than $1.25 a day**, this represents a huge pool of potential in the world of aid funding.

But Islamic finance experts, researchers and development workers say much of the money spent in `zakat’ (mandatory alms) and `sadaqa’ (charity) is mismanaged, wasted or ineffective.
Read the full IRIN article linked here.

Photo: VladKol/Shutterstock
Aid from traditional Western donors has decreased in the wake of a global recession

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cheap, effective shelter for disaster relief

Michael McDaniel designed housing for disaster relief zones -- inexpensive, easy to transport, even beautiful – but found that no one was willing to build it. 

Persistent and obsessed, he decided to go it alone. At TEDxAustin, McDaniel show us his Exo Reaction Housing Solution and shares how he's dedicating his free time to working with suppliers and manufacturers to prepare for the next natural disaster. Michael McDaniel is a graphic designer using his skills to help people in meaningful ways.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Focus on safe water and sanitation

WaterAid and its partners use practical solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people. We also seek to influence policy at national and international levels.

This short, powerful film gives a compelling insight into WaterAid's work around the world.

Focusing on Tanzania, India and Burkina Faso, the film outlines how WaterAid is changing people's lives through the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.
The film highlights the importance of using community participation and low cost, appropriate technologies to ensure the sustainability of WaterAid's projects.