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Getting to Normal in the Two Sudans – Kate Almquist Knopf

Ten years after the conflict in Darfur began, Sudan and the newly-sovereign South Sudan are still experiencing terrible violence and efforts to ensure lasting peace in the region are falling short. What can the United States do differently to help foster governance that works for both countries? My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Kate Almquist Knopf -- author of a newly-published CGD report that argues, surprisingly to me, that the United States should normalize diplomatic relations with both Sudan and South Sudan.

More Money, More Problems for US Development in Pakistan – Milan Vaishnav and Danny Cutherell

Despite an unprecedented increase in US civilian assistance to Pakistan, more money has led to more problems in achieving long-term development goals in the fractious and fragile state.  My guests on this week’s Wonkcast are Milan Vaishnav and Danny Cutherell, co-authors of a recent report written jointly with CGD president Nancy Birdsall. The new report--More Money, More Problems: A 2012 Assessment of the US Approach to Development in Pakistan--assigns letter grades to US government efforts in ten areas and provides recommendations for more effectiveengagement in Pakistan.

$16 Billion for Afghanistan: Why Less Money Might Be a Good Thing

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.

Postcard from Haiti: Life after the 2010 Quake

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

On January 12, 2010, at 16:53 hours, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the city of Port-au-Prince, killing over 200,000 people and leaving several million homeless. Foreign aid poured into Haiti, at the rate of almost a thousand dollars per Haitian. For the past two years, we have been putting together the various pieces of data we could find on aid flows and foreign involvement after the quake. We found that the big international NGOs and private contractors have been the primary recipients of billions of dollars in U.S. assistance have been not been required to report systematically on how they use the funds. There has been a lack of accountability to both the funders and recipients. Our preliminary impressions based on our visit to Haiti are that this lack of accountability is if anything worse on the ground: the NGOs are frequently not accountable to the Haitian government or to the people they aim to serve. We even learned something about earthquakes--for example, did you know that Haiti’s two major faults (the northern Sententrional fault and the southern Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault) are called slip-strike faults, and are similar to the San Andreas Fault in California? It was the southern fault that triggered the quake two and a half years ago.

Thunderstorm over Port-au-Prince

Credit: Vijaya Ramachandran

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.

Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone?

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act (H.R. 1016) was approved by a voice vote in the Senate this week, almost a year after it was passed by the House. The Act “directs the President to report to Congress on the status of post-earthquake humanitarian, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti” including progress of programs, alignment with the Haitian government priorities, and coordination among U.S. agencies and other donors.

Key Challenges for Jim Kim, New World Bank President—Nancy Birdsall

Nancy Birdsall

After an unprecedented competition, with three official nominees, the World Bank announced on Monday that the board had selected Jim Yong Kim, the Korean-born U.S. nominee, as the next president of the World Bank. My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is CGD president Nancy Birdsall, who discusses why it matters who leads the bank and sets out key challenges for the incoming president.

Why the World Bank and its President Matter

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