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Why America Needs to Ramp Up Aid to Pakistan

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai, and first appeared on Foreign Policy's AfPak Channel.

"Heart-wrenching," said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Sunday upon surveying Pakistan's ongoing floods. The U.N. chief called the floods "the worst natural disaster" he said he had ever seen. The numbers explain why. More people have been affected by Pakistan's catastrophic floods than any other natural disaster on record -- over 20 million and counting. That's more than were affected by the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and this year's earthquake in Haiti combined. As millions of dislocated Pakistanis search for shelter and food and as health conditions deteriorate and disease spreads, the need for an immediate, large-scale humanitarian response is urgent. And this is just the beginning. Once the floodwaters subside from Pakistan's swollen rivers, the task of rebuilding will be staggering - with a price tag in the billions, and lasting for years to come. The effectiveness of the response to these relief and rebuilding challenges will have serious implications for the wellbeing of the country's citizens, for the peace and stability of Pakistan and the entire South Asian region, and for U.S. national security.

Ruth Levine on Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health

The Wonkcast is taking a brief summer vacation. We’ve selected this show from our archives- it was originally posted on November 9, 2009. Since the show first aired, Ruth Levine, formerly a Senior Fellow and Vice President here at CGD, has moved to USAID to serve as Director of Evaluation, Policy Analysis & Learning.

What are the benefits of focusing specifically on girls when we invest in development? My guest this week is Ruth Levine, an expert on health and education who for the past two years has focused much of her work on adolescent girls. She's the co-author of a recently released CGD report titled Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health. In our Wonkcast, she outlines the agenda and explains why it's so critical.

"Women and girls in many senses really hold the key not only for their own health but for the health of their children and their broader communities," Ruth tells me. Recognizing that fact and directing our investments accordingly, she says, can lead to better solutions for a wide range of problems—everything from economic development to HIV/AIDS.

USAID Staffer Tracker

Last week we said USAID administrator Raj Shah couldn’t captain his own ship without a crew of Senate-confirmed leaders.  Good news: the administration has since nominated a deputy administrator and assistant administrator for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance; so four of the eleven subsequent appointees have been named.  Bad news: zero have been confirmed.  Check out our USAID Staffer Tracker below for more detail.  We’ll keep it updated.

Connecting Citizens: Rakesh Rajani on Public Accountability in East Africa

The Wonkcast is taking a brief summer vacation. We've selected this show from our archives- it was originally posted on March 30, 2010.

Has technology boosted the ability of citizens in African countries to influence their governments? This week, I'm joined by Rakesh Rajani, founder and head of Twaweza, an initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in Tanzania and other countries in East Africa. His organization has made good use of both new and old technologies—cellphones, TV, and radio broadcasts—to expand the ability of citizens to access government information and hold their leaders accountable.

Rakesh tells me that cellphone use has exploded in the last decade in Tanzania, rising from perhaps 200,000 users to over 14 million today. Except for the most remote areas of the country, he says, just about everyone can access a mobile phone. That new connectivity, Rakesh explains, has opened new channels for reducing corruption in government.

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