In a recent blog post, Pakistani economist Anjum Altaf lambasted our recent report on the US development approach to Pakistan, “More Money, More Problems,” for not being sufficiently skeptical of the US development program, especially the US aid program, in Pakistan. Dr. Altaf criticized our 2011 report too. You can review last year’s discussion here.
CGD Policy Blogs
Africa Doesn't Need the Pentagon's Charity - Why I'm Grumpy About DOD's Development Programs in Africa
This blog was originally featured at AllAfrica.com.
In her recent Foreign Policy column, "The Pivot to Africa," Rosa Brooks made a plea for letting go of comfortable old assumptions about roles and missions between the civilian and non-civilian sides of the US government, particularly when it comes to US civil-military cooperation in Africa. My plea is for an evidence-based discussion of US development policy and its intersection with US national security.
US interests will be ill-served if we merely move from comfortable old (and false) assumptions about poverty and terrorism in Africa to comfortable new (and equally false) assumptions about "whole-of-government responses" to complex challenges. While the United States should of course think and work creatively, skepticism and, dare I say, opposition, from civilian agencies to AFRICOM taking on non-traditional military roles is not rooted in turf battles but in legitimate concerns about efficiency and results.
The death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi after twenty-one years in charge raises fresh questions about the future of US foreign aid to the country – including all three of President Obama’s development initiatives – and the conundrum of focusing aid in countries whose leaders hang on to power for more than a decade. Could a new rule banning foreign aid to long-serving heads of state help?
During a recent vacation in an African country (that shall remain nameless here), I found myself, entirely by accident, sharing a large bush camp dinner table with a delegation of local officials and the US ambassador to that country. Hmm, what would they talk about? Political intrigue? Business deals? The Olympics? Instead I cringed at the actual topic: “So, how are you integrating youth outreach into your conservation programs?”
The United States’ strategy towards Africa has shifted from “how much aid” to how to attract trade and investment, said White House Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman in a major speech at the Center for Global Development this week. The standing-room only crowd seemed to welcome the emphasis on aid-plus, or more than aid approaches in Sub-Saharan Africa. CGD President Nancy Birdsall praised the administration’s “excellent vision” around the tough issues of economic growth and equal opportunity.
We’re delighted to be hosting Michael Froman, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant for International Economics, tomorrow for a discussion of the Obama administration’s strategy for poverty alleviation and economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have added FY2009-FY2011 budget data to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. The dashboard aims to capture all US foreign aid spending from across twenty-some different US agencies. There's a long way to go before all the information is included, but the dashboard--and the latest updates from State and USAID plus previous contributions from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)--are important steps in the right direction. Can Congress or crowdsourcing help get to the finish line? The dashboard is designed to include all US foreign assistance data and break it down by country, sector, initiative and agency in a user-friendly format. While it's always a bit of a shock to realize this information doesn't already exist, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is a welcome tool to improve foreign aid transparency. And the Obama administration deserves applause for getting the tool out there early, even if it's not yet complete (and hats off to the unsung heros who designed the website and entered the data).
We returned last week from a brief trip to Afghanistan, where we met with people on all sides of Kabul’s enormous aid industry – representatives of several donor agencies, contractors, NGOs and current and former Afghan government officials – about the underlying strategy of the U.S. aid effort in Afghanistan, and how it must change during the upcoming transition. As we departed Afghanistan, President Karzai flew to Tokyo asking for at least $4 billion per year for the next four years, and he appears to have gotten it. Is this good news? Is $16 billion too much or too little? And does the mutual accountability framework agreed to by the Afghan government and the international community mark a real turning point in the aid strategy for Afghanistan, or is this just more of the same? Here are a few reasons that the results of the Tokyo conference are mostly good news.