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103 posts categorized "Foreign Aid Reform"
On February 11, Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) treated his constituents yet again to his annual Opportunity: Africa Conference. The half-day conference looked at how Delaware’s businesses, faith communities, and individuals can engage in Africa amid the opportunities and challenges on the continent. The residents of Delaware had the opportunity to interract with some of the nation’s leading voices on sustainable development issues- food security and nutrition, child health and trade in Africa.
Africa today offers the promise for a return on investments. During the previous decade (2001-2010), six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in Africa. The continent has shown consistent growth, a trend that is expected to continue. A number of factors account for this growth, including technological innovations, political stability, trade, and investment. Robust growth rates, a new commitment to health and agriculture, and significant advances in science and technology are creating new investment opportunities. The United States has played a role in this progress. Senator Coons reminded participants that through life-changing assistance programs such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for example, HIV/AIDS infections have significantly declined in Africa.
But challenges remain. Today, half the population in sub-Saharan Africa (an estimated 400 million people) live on less than $1.25 a day. We know that the main driver of poverty reduction in the world is the hard work of poor people themselves. Given the opportunity to improve their communities and provide a better life for their children, they seize it. It is this recognition that makes Senator Coons a champion for foreign assistance. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, Coons echoes President Obama’s view that a strong foreign policy rooted in American values must aim to promote democracy and freedom, protect human rights, defend U.S. interests abroad, while also increasing U.S. investment and trade through mutual partnerships. He stresed that today more than ever, development assistance is critical in reducing poverty and bringing greater stability to our interconnected world.
This conference gave Bread for the World the opportunity to remind participants that moving the aid effectiveness agenda to achieve the MDGs is a complex task, but a necessary one. While more work lies ahead, efforts to achieve the MDGs have already saved lives, helped to lift millions of people out of poverty, and ensured that more children attend school. By investing in local capacity and building strong institutions and infrastructure, U.S. development assistance can help promote good governance, stability, and prosperity. Even as difficult fiscal choices are before Congress, Bread for the World maintains that U.S decision makers should lead the way by protecting and speaking out for investments that build resilience in communities. Making resources available through well-planned programs such as Feed the Future will enable African countries to develop their agricultural infrastructure in sustainable ways and diversify their economies. The 1,000 Days initiative takes advantage of a unique window of opportunity – the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday – to create a healthier future for an entire generation. This is because the right nutrition during this period is critical to a child’s ability to grow, learn, and ultimately rise out of poverty.
In his keynote address, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S, His Excellency Elkanah Odembo also urged that U.S. leadership and commitment to Africa’s development are necessary and that the recent gains on the continent be supported and sustained. The Ambassador stressed that at a time of intense debate over budget cuts, it is helpful to remember that not only do investments save lives, improve livelihoods and promote stability- they also save money in the long run and create markets for local communities as well as strong trading partners for the U.S market. Partnering for development, he noted- would help to identify common ground between different actors and to combine their skills, resources and expertise and engage in win–win relationships around development objectives such as food security, poverty reduction, health, education and access to opportunities.
Sustaining this commitment and others like it, is what will create the future we want for all—a future grounded in prosperity, dignity and mutual respect.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on February 22, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 12, President Obama reiterated his promise to address climate change in his second term. The president said:
“Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods -- all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late.”
The president is right to make climate change a priority for his second term. Climate change-- the long-term shifts in temperature now taking place, and the results of those shifts-- alongside persistent poverty and inadequate policies and institutions, are all placing serious pressure on scarce natural resources. Food security is now inextricably linked to developments in the water, energy, and land sectors.
It is increasingly clear that preparing to feed 9 billion people—the projected world population in 2050 – in a sustainable way requires our urgent attention now, not when all 9 billion of us are already here. Recent events—drought, scrambles to invest in farmland around the world, shifts in energy prices, and shocks in energy supplies— underline the scarcity of resources we depend on to produce the world’s food supply. The complex reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources. Eliminating wasteful practices and policies is essential.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2085, climate change could result in the loss of 11 percent of arable land in developing countries. For Africa, the FAO estimate is far higher since its rain-fed agriculture systems are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.
This is another perfect storm brewing for the world’s poorest people. Rising energy prices, for example, have recently been raising farmers’ costs for fuel and fertilizer, increasing the demand for biofuel crops at the expense of food crops, and raising the price of water use. Additionally, the already high food prices in many low-income countries are intensifying the risk of hunger and malnutrition -- especially among the poorest households, who spend two-thirds of their income on food.
Can today’s situation get a lot worse? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” The number of people at risk of hunger is projected to increase by 10 percent to 20 percent by 2050. According to projections by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the number of malnourished children is likely to increase by up to 21 percent by 2050.
Given the far-reaching nature of the impact of climate change on livelihoods, efforts to mitigate these adverse effects must be holistic.
Developing countries need financial as well as technical support for both adaptation and mitigation. For example, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require major improvements in data collection, dissemination, and analysis. These will help to promote community resilience and boost ongoing efforts such as Feed the Future and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Targeted investments in adaptation measures that include agricultural research and extension, rural infrastructure, and strengthened social protection programs are also critical. Within countries, extension programs can help farmers adapt through new technologies, build farmers’ knowledge and skills, and encourage them to form networks for sharing information and developing other community-based adaptation options.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on February 15, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
We’ve all heard the persistent myth among the U.S. public that the country spends about a quarter of its budget on foreign aid. I’ve never heard very much about why this is not only a majority view, but such a strongly-held view that some people don’t believe the facts when they hear them. These facts are -- as many of us can probably recite by rote anytime, anywhere -- that foreign aid is less than 1 percent of the budget, and, counting just poverty-focused development assistance, only 0.6 percent. Wherever that 25 percent "statistic" came from, it's been around for awhile, lending it credibility.
Of course, “the public” can be and is wrong about a lot of things. We all live in a complex world; individuals can’t help but have enormous gaps in their knowledge. But the repercussions of widespread belief in this particular myth are deadly because they hamper efforts to find and put into practice effective solutions to global hunger. This is a myth that costs lives.
For example, two years ago, as concern about the federal deficit and national debt began to rise sharply, a Bloomberg national poll found that more than 70 percent of Americans believed that Congress could find major savings in the federal budget by slashing foreign aid. As Tina Rosenberg wrote then, in The New York Times of March 11, 2011, "It's a new poll, but this is old news."
And it’s ironic, because Americans, regardless of party affilation, strongly support efforts to help hungry and poor people overseas. In a 2010 survey that got a lot of attention in the development community, the median response on the question of resources was the typical one, that 25 percent of the budget goes to foreign aid, but more importantly, respondents gave a median response of 10 percent as an appropriate amount. That would, of course, be more than a tenfold increase. Particularly in the polarized political climate we're still in, this support is a sign of hope.
The 2012 Chicago Council survey of Amerian foreign policy attitudes found that "Today, Americans seek a foreign policy characterized by extensive use of American diplomatic resources; by cooperation with other nations in the pursuit of common goals; and by selective, multilateral deployments of military force." That's another sign of hope.
Bread for the World Institute's new resource, Development Works: Myths and Realities, helps build support for development assistance among "the undecided" by showing, through stories and examples in clear, jargon-free language, what types of programs our tax dollars are paying for and why they work -- in addition to pointing out common misperceptions and facts that correct them. Dvelopment Works is available in .pdf format and in print as a compilation of seven short essays. Or download, for example, the first, "Development Assistance: Now Is the Time," with specific stories of farming in Ghana, or the second,"Americans Reaching Out," which includes a quick explanation of why development assistance supports common American values, not just the beliefs of one political party. Development Works illustrates some signs of hope and invites readers to act on them.
Photo: cover of Development Works #4: "Leadership and Teamwork: The U.S. Role in Development." Photo by Richard Lord for Bread for the World.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Climate change -- the long-term shifts in temperature now taking place, and the results of those shifts -- is expected to increase the frequency of shocks such as flooding and drought. The threat associated with climate change is both real and global. This infographic shows some of the evidence.
The 2012 U.S drought, which covered almost 62 percent of the land area of the 48 contiguous states, is said to be second in size only to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. A report from a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that 2012 was the warmest year ever documented in records that go back to 1895 for the 48 states. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. corn production fell 13 percent (to 272.4 million metric tons) in 2012-2013, while the soybean harvest fell 4 percent (to 80.9 million tons). As of January 1 of this year, parts of Iowa -- a state that produces almost twice as much corn as Argentina and almost as many soybeans as China-- was still in extreme drought.
Around the world, climate change is damaging food and water security in significant and highly unpredictable ways. There are strong indications that developing countries will continue to bear the brunt of the consequences -- largely because they have high poverty rates and weak capacity to adapt to the changes. In sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture — the mainstay of rural livelihoods — is already under threat because the adaptive capacity of poor rural smallholders is extremely low. The agriculture sector is, of course, particularly vulnerable to climate change. The success of farming has always depended heavily on weather conditions, and African farming is still primarily reliant on rainfall -- not irrigation.
All of these factors and more make climate change an urgent problem. Responding effectively demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels -- local, regional, national, and international. Investments in strengthening local capacity to create and implement informed, effective adaptation measures will help poor communities build the resilience they need to cope with climate shocks. It's difficult to imagine any of this happening, however, as long as local capacity remains limited and communities are perpetually in crisis mode.
One sign of hope is President Obama's promise, in the inauguration address for his second term, to “respond to the threat of climate change” lest we “betray our children and grandchildren.” This year’s State of the Union address, to take place February 12, would be a great platform to turn this ambition into action.
In London this week, a coalition of more than 100 U.K. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) launched the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign. Its mission is to urge the U.K. government to use its 2013 presidency of the G-8 to push for more action on food security and nutrition in the developing world. Events will be held between now and the G-8 summit in June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, and the campaign will reportedly extend into the autumn with work around the U.N. General Assembly in September and World Food Day in October.
Here is how the IF campaign describes its primary goals:
The ‘IF’ movement challenges the leaders of the G-8 countries to tackle 4 big IFs to provide everyone in the world with access to food:
- IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
- IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.
- IF governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
- IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.
It is encouraging that such a broad coalition in the United Kingdom has seized this opportunity and rallied around specific “asks” that ensure that the next G-8 summit advances progress on global hunger. The call for member countries to honor their previous commitments to increase development assistance, particularly those made at the 2008 G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy is important both to continued progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and to the G-8’s credibility.
The Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report stresses the need for such national and international coordination, reminding us of the kind of progress the world is capable of under globally shared initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Posted by Bread on January 25, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Posted by Bread on January 09, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Hunger and poverty are cumbersome, tangled, and unruly concepts—that much is clear on the surface. The hundreds of millions of people who struggle to disentangle themselves for the sake of daily survival know this in their bodies, minds, and souls. And those of us who work on hunger and poverty each day share just a portion of their frustration. Whether you labor at a food bank to meet the endless lines of need, confront deadly international phenomena like food insecurity and malnutrition, or even brave the policy front to sort out the root causes—you understand the moments of disappointment. And if you are honest, you’ll admit that they can at times bring you to the troughs of exhaustion and despair, where you doubt the utility of your work and even the basic truths that inspired it.
Last week, I was in a trough—around the same time that I attended the Society for International Development’s annual Gala Dinner here in Washington, DC, an event held to honor the dedicated work of development superstars who live out the basic truths that we sometimes doubt. This year the spotlight rested on the person of the State Department’s Maria Otero (Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights) and with her, on the concept of human dignity. Webster defines dignity as “the quality of being worthy…” We say every human being is worthy because every human being possesses an innate capacity to flourish—to live a robust, productive, and fulfilling life—and to contribute to the greater flourishing of all humanity.
Every human being.
If you accept, really accept, this concept, then an assessment of things as they are can and should outrage you. The injustice—that the place and time of one’s birth are the most important factors in determining how life will unfold—seems to stand in direct defiance of human dignity. But, as Otero reminded us, we can’t ever settle for this injustice. She is a person who fully understood the ongoing conflict between reality and our ideals—but creatively worked to coerce the former into submission to latter. As president of ACCION International, she introduced the world to microfinance, now considered a fundamental poverty-fighting tool that empowers people with few material resources with loans to build their own productive businesses. She says it’s an idea she was once considered crazy for, because it rests entirely on human dignity. It says that a loan to a materially poor person can work, because that person is worthy of it—capable, creative, and dedicated.
Today, more than 70 million of the world’s poorest families have access to microcredit, and that number has been growing by more than 35 percent each year. The story of microfinance is a story of human dignity. Otero and people like her have bet their lives on it. We must too, if we are to meet the problems of hunger and poverty with the seriousness, determination, and hope that they demand.
So thank you, Maria Otero, for pulling me out of the trough.
Posted by Bread on December 20, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sometimes the best way to communicate information is through pictures instead of text. And our new 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, offers a good balance for the eyes. Enjoy this colorful gallery of photos that tells the graphical tale of hunger and the ongoing struggle to end it across the world (I fully endorse viewing it full screen). Then maybe dive deeper into the Report to encounter the incredible stories and struggles waiting just behind the faces. Maybe download it to your e-reader?
On Twitter? Follow @BreadInstitute and stay current on hourly hunger-fighting news, data, stories, and solutions.
Posted by Bread on December 14, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Human potential is an asset that we are losing each day. It’s there, ready and waiting in the unique mind and personality of each human being. And with it, not so far out of reach, lies the reality of a better life for all of us. Solutions to problems like hunger and poverty are part of that awaiting reality, wrapped up in the opportunity of human potential.
Potential is often hard to quantify. Then there are cases when it isn’t. Stunting is one of those cases. The evidence of stunting is literally standing in front of you: a child, shorter than she should be. When children don’t get the right nutrients; they lose—not only in physical size, but in mental and social capacity, and in ability to lead a successful, productive life. And we lose. We lose the mental energy that could have brought a family out of poverty, helped build a national economy, or even flagged the end of hunger.
Bread for the World Institute is calling world leaders to take stunting more seriously. When one in four children in the world is stunted—the lifelong losses are too great to ignore. Our new stunting infographic (below) tells the story. Read more about the often overlooked threats of stunting and severe acute malnutrition in the 2013 Hunger Report.
Posted by Bread on December 10, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In our world of acronyms, chances are that like myself, you have found yourself in that awkward situation -– when you stumble across a mysterious acronym, and with a good degree of embarasssment you recite it, still wondering what it means. You all know how that goes. Fortunately, this blog post is virtually an
acronym-free zone, so that you dont leave still wondering whether you missed something. It is about a critical concept in development --resilience.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) defines resilience as the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth. Resilience should be about preventing repeated humanitarian interventions by bringing humanitarian and development goals closer and making people much less vulnerable.
This week- in Washington D.C, USAID launched its first-ever policy guidance on building resilience to recurrent crisis. The new Resiliency Policy seeks to act on the root causes of people’s vulnerability -- not just make people better able to bear the effects. The policy also comes at a critical time, when it could help to make resilience a part of the post-2015 development framework. According to Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, the world has made great progress in reducing hunger and poverty. But food price volatility, increasing demographic pressures, resource scarcity, and other shocks remind us of how fleeting those gains are.
From left to right: His Excellency Elkanah Odembo, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S; Neal
Keny-Guyer, CEO- Mercy Corps; Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator- Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID; David Beckmann, President- Bread for the World; and Carolyn Woo, President & CEO - Catholic Relief Services at the launch. Photo/Alex Loken- Bread for the World
Amid drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Southeast Asia, and the current crisis in the Sahel, the importance of an integrated approach to sustainable development cannot be overemphasized. The ongoing drought in the Sahel and the famine in the Horn of Africa both reinforce the role of social safety net programs in providing a broad package of support for the most vulnerable — from specialized nutrition products to protect the minds and bodies of young children, to investments in sustainable land management that help communities build resilience to drought and other shocks.
Evidence shows that such investments are cost-effective, and they save millions of lives. For example, when food prices rose in 2008, hasty responses such as some countries' bans on exporting food contributed to driving 100 million people into poverty — the first increase in decades. When food prices rose again in 2011, however, the world avoided poor policy responses and invested instead in long-term food security. During the world’s worst drought in 60 years, this approach was validated by Kenya's and Ethiopia’s ability to avoid famine, thanks in part to President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative and its emphasis on building resilience through agricultural development.
Moving forward, the new resilience policy could help to ensure that the process of reaching agreement on post-2015 global development goals is open and includes a wide range of development actors, including emerging donors, civil society, the private sector, and most importantly-- the vulnerable communities themselves.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on December 07, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Malnutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)