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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2010
Press Office: 202-712-4320
Public Information: 202-712-4810
www.usaid.gov


WASHINGTON, DC The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has embarked on an ambitious reform effort, USAID FORWARD, to change the way the Agency does business-with new partnerships, an emphasis on innovation and a relentless focus on results. It gives USAID the opportunity to transform its agency and unleash its full potential to achieve high-impact development.

Announced by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID FORWARD is critical to achieving President Obama’s vision of the United States as the global leader in international development. This initiative is an early outcome of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and will help modernize and strengthen USAID so that it can meet the most pressing development challenges and work more efficiently towards its ultimate goal-creating the conditions where its work is no longer needed.

USAID FORWARD is a comprehensive package of reforms in seven key areas:

1. Implementation and Procurement Reform: USAID will change its business processes-contracting with and providing grants to more and varied local partners, and creating true partnerships to create the conditions where aid is no longer necessary in the countries where the Agency works. To achieve this, USAID is streamlining its processes, increasing the use of small businesses, building metrics into its implementation agreements to achieve capacity building objectives and using host country systems where it makes sense.

2. Talent Management: USAID will explore ways to leverage the enormous talent that lies within the broader USAID family of foreign and civil service officers, and Foreign Service Nationals. To solve the world’s biggest development challenges, it will improve and streamline processes so it can quickly align its resources to support the Agency’s strategic initiatives, with better hiring and training tools as well as incentives. USAID must attract and retain the best people who reflect global diversity and who share the ability to be innovative problem-solvers.

3. Rebuilding Policy Capacity: To make smart, informed decisions, USAID has created a new Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) that will serve as the intellectual nerve center for the Agency. PPL will promulgate cutting-edge creative and evidence-based development policies-leveraging USAID’s relationships with other donors, utilizing its strength in science and technology, and reintroducing a culture of research, knowledge-sharing and evaluation.

4. Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation: Learning by measuring progress is critical for high impact, sustainable development and therefore must be an integral part of USAID’s thought process from the onset of its activities. That requires USAID to do a much better job of systematically monitoring its performance and evaluating its impact. USAID will be introducing an improved monitoring and evaluation process as part of these reform efforts, and it will link those efforts to its program design, budgeting and strategy work.

5. Rebuilding Budget Management: USAID is rebuilding our budget capacity to allow for increased responsibilities and capacity to manage constrained budget resources and ensure the Agency will be able to align resources against country strategies, make difficult trade-offs, and re-deploy resources toward programs that are demonstrating meaningful results. In consultation with the Department of State, USAID has created an Office of Budget and Resource Management in the Office of the Administrator that will provide increased responsibilities over execution of its budget. With these increased responsibilities, USAID will have to propose difficult funding tradeoffs in order to continue robust funding of key operational and program priorities.

6. Science and Technology: USAID has a proud history of transforming development through science & technology (S&T), from the successful use of oral rehydration therapies to the green revolution. As part of these reform efforts, USAID will upgrade its internal S&T capabilities, supporting the expansion of technical expertise and improving access to analytical tools like Geospatial Information Systems. It will also develop a set of Grand Challenges for Development, a framework to focus the Agency and development community on key scientific and technical barriers that limit breakthrough development progress. Finally, USAID will build S&T capacity in developing countries through cooperative research grants, improved access to scientific knowledge, and higher education and training opportunities.

7. Innovation: USAID is putting into place a structure for fostering innovative development solutions that have a broad impact on people, wherever they may arise. As part of these reform efforts, USAID is creating opportunities to connect its staff to leading innovators in the private sector and academia, and it has created the Development Innovation Ventures Fund-where creative solutions can be funded, piloted and brought to scale.

For more information about USAID’s programs, please visit: usaid.gov.

The Development, US MDG and Foreign Aid community has been waiting on Sec. Clinton’s much touted Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) for months now, and got a taste of it yesterday when a draft was made available. Easily explore it online here courtesy the Washington Post document reader.

The QDDR serves as a “scheduled review of development aid — and how to integrate it with U.S. diplomatic efforts”, in an effort to keep development projects relevant and “fresh” (WaPo, 2010)

Policy and administration folk who are keen to see increased accountability and a greater awareness of need-based/locally-owned development will be anxious to see how the final decisions regarding USAID’s operation and goals play out. We’ll keep you posted on this.

The QDDR will hopefully serve as a key map in navigating Congressional discussions on US development commitments and new spending priorities. Here at AIDemocracy, we will be monitoring this story closely, with help from our friends at MFAN and USGLC— Look for action moments from our side soon!

The G20 meetings are publicly recognized for being the arena of two repeating themes: citizen protest against unfair trade policies that affect communities across the world, and world leaders flexing their muscles to see who walks away as top dog.

The G20 meeting in Seoul, South Korea was burdened with a third theme– that of finding solutions to the ongoing global economic crisis and the fast approaching threat of protectionism. Why is protectionism an issue? In the context of the US economy, it could mean lower foreign investment, which would lower the value of the dollar. In the context of social justice, this could have far-reaching adverse effects on local and international unemployment and worker rights as well as on US government spending on social services.

The US came under pressure for the Quantitative Easing (QE2) decision taken by the Federal Reserve Board. What’s all the noise about, and did the rest of the G20’s argument against the US decision make any sense? Nice analysis of the situation (and some groovy Economics 101!) here.

But really, the only thing we’re asking each other right now is, why should we care about what is discussed or decided on at the G20?

Simple answer? International Aid Reform. The G20 meetings are a significant platform for world leaders to discuss global approaches to the issue of misdirected foreign aid and unmet aid targets.

Read the rest of this entry »

33 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide – 2.1 million die each year and 2.7 million more are infected.

What will you do this World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day began on December 1, 1988 and has since been recognized around the world each year. It has become a key opportunity to increase awareness, fight against prejudice, commemorate the lives lost to the disease, and celebrate the victories in increased access to services and treatment.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights,’ which offers the opportunity to recognize that despite the strides, the most marginalized and vulnerable populations still do not have access to the care and services they need – that access is their human right. The review of the Millennium Development Goals this past September reminded us of the goal to achieve universal access and World AIDS Day is another moment to remind policymakers, parents, teachers, and friends alike that we have lots to do to achieve universal access and protect human rights.


Do something this World AIDS Day. Whether you have a lot or a little time, we have just the way for you to get involved:

I care about the issue but don’t think I have time to plan an event.

I can whip up something quick, send me a free kit!

Bring it on! I’ll organize a film screening for World AIDS Day, send me a free kit!

I care about the issue but don’t think I have time to plan an event.

1 ) Read the rest of this entry »

By Michaela Maynard, Global Health Issue Analyst

Nicholas Kristof coined the phrase in his article, published in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday: “Do-It-Yourself” Foreign Aid; it’s a shift from the usual ‘wealthy country’ gives to ‘poor country’ to improve health and development. Mr. Kristof introduces readers to several of these D.I.Y. individuals: a woman working to manufacture sanitary pads in Rwanda, so that females will not have to miss work or school because they are menstruating; a 23-year old who developed a children’s shelter in Nepal, a mission that started with the $5,000 she had saved from babysitting jobs during high school.

The dedication and commitment that these and other D.I.Y. individuals demonstrate is inspiring. This kind of altruism reminds me that despite all the hardships in the world, there is hope. Today, the delivery of foreign aid does not depend on presidents, United Nations officials or even multi-millionaires. It is the workings of passionate but ordinary individuals with great ideas who are chipping away at huge global challenges. And, that’s the problem I guess, we are only chipping away at the issues.

The article made me question the long-term effects of foreign aid and the sustainability of these projects. If the goal is to make long-lasting changes, shouldn’t we be working towards more systematic development? Shouldn’t we be trying to help countries, economies, and governments help themselves? Read the rest of this entry »

By Catherine Bugayong, Global Development Issue Analyst

The United States’ complaints about China have only progressively increased in volume since the economy crashed in 2008. At issue here is the exchange rate, which China holds “fixed” at 6.65 yuan to US$1.

Unlike the Chinese yuan, the US dollar and (other major trading currencies such as the euro and the Japanese yen) are on a “floating exchange rate regime:” the value of the US dollar automatically changes in reaction to demand and supply in markets. For China to place the yuan on a “fixed exchange rate regime,” it must continuously buy and hold in reserve trillions of US dollars.

These actions have the United States grumbling that China is a “currency manipulator” and that the yuan is “undervalued.” The United States argues that keeping the yuan artificially low gives Chinese exports an unfair advantage. Pressured further by the US economy’s slow recovery, the House of Representatives passed a bill that permits the US government to set up tariffs against countries that undervalue their currencies. The bill awaits approval from the Senate and a signature from the President, but what the world is really waiting for is China’s reaction. Read the rest of this entry »

By Sara Hooker, Global Development Issue Analyst

There is a joke in Southern Africa that vegetarians don’t exist, at least not by choice. There is even a Zimbabwean rap group dedicated solely to eulogizing chicken in their songs. Another inside joke is that you can tell who a government worker is by the girth of their waist, as people tend to literally show their power in kilos. While this may tend towards hyperbole, meat has always been an indicator of wealth in Africa. Unfortunately this may no longer be the case. Grain, long a diet staple, is taking over as a luxury.

Last week in Rome, from October 11th to the 16th, some of the world’s most accomplished academics on food security convened for the annual committee on World Food Security. While the verdict is still out on their performance (the CFS chairperson described it as a ‘rich and lively session’ which in UN speak means there were probably not any sweeping reforms) it is clear it is a necessary dialogue to maintain.
Read the rest of this entry »

By Binta Diallo, Global Health Issue Analyst

Recently, the Obama Administration announced that they were going to be allocating $4 billion to the Global Fund.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Global Fund, it is an international “bank” that distributes funds and appropriate resources to the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.  The Global Fund is currently contributing to about 144 countries around the world.  During a recent meeting with the donors in New York, it was announced that countries will be contributing a total of $11.7 billion USD for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years. Note that this is less than what they previously said would be the worst case scenario of $13 billion. $4 billion of the total amount comes from the U.S, which the biggest contribution from any country, and would be a 38 percent increase of US contributions from the last three years. Although the pledge of $4 billion from the US increased from previous years, it is still not enough. Since the Global Fund works to fight against the spread of AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis throughout the world, the financial need is extremely high. Based on the projected needs ($13 billion to keep treatment at current levels) and failed commitments by other nations, the US pledge ends up being very small.

Questions about the management and accountability of the Global Fund seem to have affected the magnitude of countries’ monetary commitments. An U.S official said that the US pledge could potentially increase if the Global Fund and participating countries “improve their management of grants, work to avoid duplication of efforts, improve accountability and monitoring.”

This brings up the question: why should the administration pledge more funds if their money is not being used efficiently?  Read the rest of this entry »

By Marshall Kirby.

Marshall is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Marshall below or take a look at the Student Issue Analysts.

The author with John Perkins

On Thursday October 14th, 2010 I had the honor of attending a speech given by John Perkins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Perkins is the author of the bestselling books: Confessions of an Economic Hitman, The Secret History of the American Empire, and Hoodwinked. As you might expect, the talk was very interesting and inspiring at the same time.

Perkins’ main points of discussion were about the history of the economic collapse, what brought us there, and where we can go from here to build a more sustainable and just global economic system. All of these I will discuss below.

How did we get here?

Perkins gives us his take on a much longer journey back through history. Prior to the rise of modern states, global power derived out of religious empires. With the rise of modern nation states, the religious structure in which global power was concentrated was displaced. Then, he said, something changed – power started shifting from sovereign states towards global corporations. Through lobbying, the power of money, and corruption, some corporations have been able to thwart democratic practices in certain thriving democracies. This has produced the economic system of today and the current crisis. Perkins’ explains that this was no fluke – it was inevitable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Every fall as the trees shed their colorful leaves I get a little nostalgic. When I see the children in my neighborhood setting pumpkins on their doorsteps and frolicking in leaves, I feel a pang of jealousy. With all the stresses of ‘adult life’ and grad school, I miss the carefree days of my childhood. Then I think about how lucky I was to have that experience, when so many children across the globe have their childhood cut short because of poverty, cultural expectations, and shockingly, as they are forced into marriage.

Think of a young girl in your life.  Think of your sibling, niece, cousin, neighbor, daughter or even a memory of yourself as a child. Now think of 60 million girls just like her married across the globe. Imagine them pressured by families and communities to enter into adulthood at the age of 16, 12 or even 7. Imagine them being forced to marry, often a much older man, and assume the role of a wife and mother.

The emotional, social, and health consequences of this are enormous. These girls are often forced to move far away from their families to be with their husbands. Once they are married they can no longer pursue their education. Since they are so young, they have no say within the family. They are expected to immediately fulfill their roles as wives by becoming sexually active. Most have no sexual and reproductive health education, and no idea of how to protect themselves from STIs or unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, the girls face pressure to prove their fertility as soon as they are married.

Sexual activity and pregnancy at a young age both bear dangerous health consequences. A young, undeveloped body is often not ready for the physical strain of pregnancy and childbirth. In many of the countries in which child marriage is prevalent, Read the rest of this entry »

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