Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs


Engagement Amid Austerity - Or How the United States Stays in the Game Despite Budget Pressures

This is a joint post with John Norris of the Center for American Progress.

Budget concerns will almost certainly put downward pressure on federal spending across a host of government programs for a number of years. Although some think it is almost heretical to point out the obvious, the international affairs budget will not be immune from this dynamic. In fact, international spending could take a disproportionate hit compared to domestic spending – despite the fact that discretionary international spending is a very small part of the overall budget puzzle.

International affairs, and more specifically foreign assistance, have rarely been popular budget items among the public or on Capitol Hill – despite consistently comprising only about 1 percent of the total federal budget. Even so, foreign aid and international engagement make good political targets for elected officials out on the stump. It is far easier to demonize foreign aid than to explain how relatively modest programs to improve living standards in the developing world have consistently proven to be in the national interest over the long-term.

People and the Planet

Population issues have been conspicuously absent from the discussions on the environmental sustainability of our globalized economy in the run-up to the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, which will take place in Brazil on June 20-22 under the auspices of the United Nations.

A Warm Welcome to John May

This week we are pleased to announce a new arrival to the CGD global health policy team, John May. John joins us from his previous position as Lead Population Specialist at the World Bank and will be working on issues relating to population and development as a visiting fellow at CGD. John has 35 years of international experience in population, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS issues.

Africa’s Child Health Miracle: The Biggest, Best Story in Development

If you’re sick of the sad, hopeless stories coming out of Africa, here’s one that made my year. New statistics show that the rate of child death across sub-Saharan Africa is not just in decline—but that decline has massively accelerated, just in the last few years. From the middle to the end of the last decade, rates of child mortality across the continent plummeted much faster than they ever had before.

84,788 New Data Points on Financial Inclusion

If you follow microfinance blogs, you probably know that the World Bank has released a big database called Global Findex. With muscular funding from the Gates Foundation, the World Bank ran an ambitious polling project to learn about what financial services people use and how they use them---or why they don't. Some 150,000 people were interviewed in 148 countries. And that's just the first round: the surveys will be repeated, the grant lasting 10 years.

A Review of the U.S. Government's Review of Its Haiti Quake Response

This post is joint with Julie Walz.

Last week, USAID finally published an external review on its activities in Haiti: “Independent Review of the U.S. Government Response to the Haiti Earthquake”. The report is dated March 28, 2011. Yes, 2011. It took over a year to post the document on the USAID website. The review was conducted by MacFadden and Associates – which operates an $80M Indefinite Quantity Contract from USAID. There are some frank and enlightening assessments of USG response and coordination, but very little discussion of aid accountability.