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USAID finally gives resources direct to beneficiaries February 5, 2010

Posted by jasonized in Uncategorized.
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Via AP:

US Puts Locals in Charge of AIDS Spending

U.S. and South African AIDS workers say putting more of the decision-making in local hands can help stretch donor money, amid concerns international giving will be limited because of the global recession.

…instead of channeling U.S. funds to South Africans, CRS would now serve as a partner for monitoring, clinical and other services, and would now be paid by the South Africans.

”The person in charge, who is the local partner now, they decide what they need and they pay for it,” Stark said in an interview Thursday.

This is great. While the motivation may not be pure, I am excited to see the US for the first time putting resources directly into the hands of beneficiary communities’ agents and letting them be buyers of services. Anyone know who at USAID okayed this one?

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India Shining? Technological progress and the poor November 17, 2009

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I recently visited my hometown, Delhi after a hiatus of two years and was awed by the increase in financially well off middle class. The growth in the number of people traveling in Toyotas and Hondas, owning large furnished apartments, working in large multinational companies was phenomenal. On the other end of the spectrum I still saw the country depicted in the movie “Slumdog Millionairre”, where thousands of people do not get a couple of meals a day. This has shown that though India has shown growth over the years, inequality between rich and poor has risen as well.

Technological advances have played an important role in development of a country. India has successfully used its skilled workforce in providing services in Information Technology, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical sciences. This has created a large number of jobs leading to the growth of the Indian middle class. Most of these sectors are based on providing services thereby the country is emerging as a service economy.

India would need investments in specific sectors to create jobs for the uneducated, low-income communities. Stronger government measures are needed to make people at the bottom of the pyramid self-sustainable. Finding its niche in agriculture and other product driven sectors would be important. The point I want to make is that economic development of communities at the bottom of the pyramid is equally important if not more as compared to investments in social programs. Employing people by generating jobs in manufacturing will be a key element to growth and reduce inequality.

Care should also be taken to design correct measures so that resources are not clustered in a particular city or town. Some examples are restricting the maximum number of industries in a particular city to allow moving businesses and manufacturing units to other towns and villages. Providing tax credits to foster new manufacturing units would be other policy instruments needed to build a product-based economy.

Establishing proper infrastructure would be an essential step in moving in this direction and is currently high on the government’s agenda. I believe that policy decisions to invest in both product and services sector would be important for economic development of the country.

Tania Dutta

I am statistically “Educated” November 5, 2009

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This summer while I was teaching at a government school in Pakistan, I asked a tenth grade student, “Which is your favorite country in the world besides Pakistan?” He answered “Karachi”. Karachi is the most populous city of Pakistan. In the 11 years of this students’ education, his teachers had forgot to tell him the difference between a city and a country.

In another encounter, while a student was talking with me about religion, another student said, “Sir! he will not go to paradise because he is a Shia.” I asked that student, “Who is a Shia?”. He had no answer but he remained adamant that his colleague being a Shia won’t be going to paradise anytime soon.

As Policy analysts, we are “designed” to worship statistics. We often forget, how little these statistics mean in the developing world. The students I was talking with were not the exceptions but the rule in the developing world. They were a part of 56% Pakistanis who are statistically “educated”. Policy analysts will feel good about themselves when they realize that this 56% is a rise from ten years ago when this figure was about 40%. But what does this number really mean? May I dare say, NOTHING!!

It is happening all over the developing world. Teaching quality everywhere is abysmal. For those of you who are interested in International education do watch this video on quality of education at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOImnAOkjWs and think how do we approach the question of literacy in the developing world.

Muhammad Azfar Nisar – MPP/MIAS 2010

Primer on Financial Crisis November 20, 2008

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For all those interested in understanding the financial crisis with a bit of historical background, this powerpoint is a great start.  Developed by the UK organization New Economics Foundation, the presentation covers the modern financial system from its birth to its… death?  and is presented in easy to understand layperson’s terms.  Enjoy!

Chat with Dan Hymowitz (MPP ’07) November 17, 2008

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ABOUT DAN

Dan Hymowitz (MPP ’07) is a Scott Family Liberia Fellow with the Center for Global Development and is currently working closely with the National Coordinator of the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Committee (LRDC), a donor coordination and policy planning unit in the Office of the President. (Think “senior advisor.”) Currently he is serving as the LRDC representative to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Technical Support Team. He is also working closely with several nontraditional donors who are developing projects in Liberia.

Dan completed a Masters of Public Policy at GSPP in 2007 where he focused on economics and global development. He also worked with a small research team on a project sponsored by UC Berkeley and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) which compared the market potential of three point-of-use water treatment technologies. In Summer 2006, he carried out a field trial in rural Bangladesh. Previously, Mr. Hymowitz worked for the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Textile Trade Affairs and also served as a policy analyst for the Slum Rehabilitation Society in Mumbai, India. Before graduate school, Mr. Hymowitz worked in Communications, primarily as a minor league sports broadcaster.

We talked to Dan in Liberia on November 6. Notes from our conversation follow–click the “More…” link.

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Good international map visualizations November 14, 2008

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All you mapping fans will like Show/World. I recommend it for good quick visualizations that compare nations of a variety of economic, political, and other factors.

Also, if you haven’t seen it before, check out the Many Eyes online tool. I’ve uploaded numerous data sets here for good, quick visualizations. Besides maps (like this one) they allow really cool visualizations with a lot of complexity (like this one).

Google.org speaker note October 28, 2008

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Below are notes from the talk of Alix Zwane and John Lyman of Google.org, given at GSPP on 10/28/08:

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New Group Advocating Modernization of American Aid October 21, 2008

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This is exciting – the prospect of USAID, PEPFAR, MCC and others actually becoming organizations that approach aid with none of that all-too-well-known American swagger and disregard for effectiveness?  The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) proposes just that.  MFAN is a network of progressive organizations that are putting forth a new model of American development assistance. (more…)

Rebuild Afghanistan Summit 2008 October 13, 2008

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On Sunday, October 12th, Dominican University hosted the fifth annual Rebuild Afghanistan Summit in San Rafael. In addition to keynote speaker Dr. Nake Kamrany, professor of economics at USC and author of over 20 books and articles on Afghanistan, about 15 Bay Area organizations gave presentations on their work in Afghanistan and what they’re doing to provide some form of relief to the population. The Summit served as a forum for nonprofit leaders, academics, and concerned citizens to come together and talk about the successes and failures of the country, and what can be done at this time of need.

Dr. Nake Kamrany gave a thought-provoking presentation about what he believes to be the four most compelling problems that Afghanistan is facing today:

  • Security–US/NATO casualties have increased while security has decreased
  • Poppy production–poppy interdiction tactics have alienated the population
  • Economic development–per capita income growth must be 20% per year over the next 5 years and 10% thereafter for Afghanistan to reach level of its neighbors
  • Social and legal issues–weak governance and policy implementation failures must be addressed

During the Summit, a few key points came to my attention. First, the Bay Area organizations founded by Afghan-Americans and non Afghan-Americans are absolutely essential in building a link between the United States and the Afghan population. At a time when policy in Washington has been haphazard at best, it is these groups that are making the grassroots effort to better the lives of Afghans. Second, not enough pressure has been put on policymakers to truly put Afghanistan back on the policy agenda. As an Afghan-American, I wholeheartedly place part of that blame on myself. And third, the issue of human rights does not hold as prominent a place in the rhetoric of Afghanistan as it should. Yes, food and clothing and shelter are essential human needs, but that does not preclude a child’s right to an education, or a woman’s right to health care. It is the responsibility of the Afghan government, the United States, and the international donor community to ensure that government has the capacity to provide these services to its citizens.

– Farhat

CGD’s response to Senate’s MCA slashing September 18, 2008

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The often spot-on analysis at CGD turns to look at the recent meager appropriation to the US Millennium Challenge Account.  Their direct responses to the three main justifications put forth by Senate for the amputation of funds follow. (more…)