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Global Health is Development: Why USAID Should Lead the GHI

This is a joint post with Connie Veillette. It is cross-posted on the Global Health Policy blog.

The QDDR pre-release consultation document says the Global Health Initiative will eventually be managed by USAID. For a number of reasons, it makes complete sense for USAID to lead the GHI.

Health is a core development mission. Consider that the FY2010 budget for health programs totals $7.8 billion, or more than 20% of the entire foreign assistance budget. We use development assistance dollars for global health as part of a broader development mission. President Obama’s Global Development Policy identifies the GHI as a key development initiative, so our premier development agency should surely be given the charge to lead the administration’s largest development initiative.

Health is more than just health. Health is about treating and preventing disease and improving health systems but it is also much more. It’s about improved nutrition and equitable access to food, clean water and sanitation, education, and investments in research and technology. These are sectors in which USAID has long worked, and they need to be integrated into a strategy that supports the GHI.

The GHI needs one leader, not three, for better decision-making and results (see related blog posts here and here). The administration points to the GHI as a new way of doing business and as a leading edge of aid reform efforts, but the current inter-agency consensus style leadership doesn’t seem to be working efficiently. While all U.S.G. staff at HQ and in-country are working fast and furiously, the lack of a leader at the top seems to be slowing decision-making at the highest levels. Some visible expressions of this lack of efficiency include the absence, a full year and seven months since the GHI was announced, of a final strategy, country strategies, or even a GHI website. For this new and ambitious approach to take off, the U.S. needs one leader that is able to tap the strengths of different government agencies that make unique contributions to the GHI.

Who Gets the Debt If Sudan Splits? Ben Leo

Ben LeoA 2011 referendum in Southern Sudan will determine the sub-nation’s independence – and it’s just one month away. Ahead of the South’s possible secession, Sudanese leaders are scrambling to find solutions to a host of questions, a critical one being: What should be done with Sudan’s crushing $35 billion external debt burden?

Event: The Global Implications of India’s Microcredit Crisis

An event this Thursday for those of you in Washington, DC....

Update: A video record of the event is here.

The Center for Global Development presents

The Global Implications of India’s Microcredit Crisis

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2:00 – 3:30 P.M.

The largest crisis in the history of microfinance is now unfolding in India. After five years of growth so fast it has been described as “indescribable,” and after a lucrative initial public offering (IPO) by the leading firm, the government of the state of Andhra Pradesh has cracked down. Amid reports of microcredit-linked suicides, the state has urged borrowers to stop repaying, and millions have heeded the call. Bankruptcies of some of the world’s largest microcreditors are now a realistic possibility.

What is the reality of microcredit in India? Is the backlash an engineered campaign to protect a government-run (and World Bank–financed) program from private-sector competition? Or has the fast growth in credit ensnared the poor in debt? Some of each?

And what lessons does the crisis hold for actors worldwide, including microfinance institutions and investors ranging from the World Bank to Kiva users? When is microcredit—and investment in it—too much of a good thing?

Congressionally Mandated Robbery on the High Seas

I just want to give a quick shout-out to Christopher Barrett and his Cornell University colleagues for their new study of the outdated and costly cargo preference requirements in U.S. food aid policy. This is a clear example of the importance (and unintended consequences) of the organization and implementation of U.S. foreign assistance programs.

Nearly One Year Later: Trade Is Still Key to Haiti’s Recovery

Earlier this week, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof commented on the dire situation in Haiti, nearly one year after the catastrophic earthquake.

In addition to noting the immediate needs of medical workers and cholera patients, Kristof aptly recognized that trade preference programs are a critical investment in Haiti’s long-term, sustainable development.

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