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Foreign Aid

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.


2014 Human Development Report - Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience
UNDP
As successive Human Development Reports (HDRs) have shown, most people in most countries have been doing steadily better in human development. Advances in technology, education and incomes hold ever-greater promise for longer, healthier, more secure lives. But there is also a widespread sense of precariousness in the world today—in livelihoods, in personal security, in the environment and in global politics. High achievements on critical aspects of human development, such as health and nutrition, can quickly be undermined by a natural disaster or economic slump. Theft and assault can leave people physically and psychologically impoverished. Corruption and unresponsive state institutions can leave those in need of assistance without recourse.
 

The State of the State
Foreign Affairs
The state is the most precious of human possessions,” the economist Alfred Marshall remarked in 1919, toward the end of his life, “and no care can be too great to be spent on enabling it to do its work in the best way.” For Marshall, one of the founders of modern economics and a mentor to John Maynard Keynes, this truth was self-evident. Marshall believed that the best way to solve the central paradox of capitalism -- the existence of poverty among plenty -- was to improve the quality of the state. And the best way to improve the quality of the state was to produce the best ideas. That is why Marshall read political theorists as well as economists, John Locke as well as Adam Smith, confident that studying politics might lead not only to a fuller understanding of the state but also to practical steps to improve governance.

 

The ever changing landscape of aid

Zahid Hussain's picture

How has foreign aid changed over the past seven decades?Foreign aid in its modern form originated in the early 1940s. Following the Second World War, Europe faced a critical shortage of capital for physical reconstruction. The response was the commonly known Marshall Plan under which the USA transferred some 2-3% of its national income during the peak years to help reconstruct Europe. The achievements under the Marshall Plan spawned hope about the effectiveness of foreign aid in other contexts. The attention of rich nations turned to the emerging independent developing nations in the 1960s. The multilateralism of aid at the time was seen as more efficient and less political than bilateral aid leading to considerable expansion of the activities of the UN, World Bank, and other multilateral agencies.
 
Historically there have been many who claim that not enough aid is given. The immediate post-War period witnessed large-scale funding through the Marshall Plan and growing aid to developing countries, focusing on technical assistance. In 1951 a UN commission recommended an increase of aid, to about $5 billion a year, to help countries increase economic growth to 2%. The most commonly quoted Partners in Development report argued for an increase in aid to 0.7% percent of Gross National Income of donors and to increase the efficiency of aid.
 
Conditions changed abruptly towards the end of the 1970s with the second oil shock, leading to the international debt crisis. Macroeconomic imbalances became widespread among developing countries. Focus in development strategy and policy shifted to internal policy failure. Achieving external and internal balance was widely perceived as an essential prerequisite for renewed development. Trade, not aid, became the dominant slogan among many leaders and economists. The optimism around 1970 was followed by ‘structural adjustment’ and stabilization of economies, and ‘aid fatigue’. Nevertheless, throughout the 1980s there were calls for increasing aid. The 1990s witnessed sharp reductions in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) with the end of Cold War and tightening budget constraints in donor countries.
 
A major convergence of economic and political factors around the early 1990s led to a widespread feeling of there being a problem in the field of aid-promoted development policy. Policymakers at a global level faced a new set of problems in the context of a shift arising from the end of the Cold War. Aid could move away from being regarded largely as a geopolitical strategic tool. In addition, the Asian economic crisis and the lackluster performance of sub-Saharan Africa posed serious challenges.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

One
The Promising Game-Changers in Global Development: Social Innovators

“Turning on a light, warming a house, and using an appliance are activities that most of us take for granted. But in many parts of the developing world, access to electricity is scarce. Enter “sOccket,” a soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy of play to generate electricity. When kicked, it creates energy that can be stored and then used later to charge a battery, sterilize water or light a room.

SOccket has received a lot of attention recently – from the likes of Aneesh Chopra, the first White House chief technology officer, to former President Bill Clinton, who called sOccket “quite extraordinary.” The attention isn’t surprising – the invention is clever, it’s creative, it’s relatively cheap, and it takes on one of the biggest challenges in the developing world.”  READ MORE

Mentoring Local Organizations - Here’s How!

Jennifer Lentfer's picture

Mentoring has become a very important means for social entrepreneurs to gain skills from an experienced entrepreneur. It has become one of the most effective ways to build an organization's capacity. Mentor's can give advice, encouragement and leverage their contacts to help an organization grow. Jennifer Lentfer offers some practical guidelines for developing an effective mentor relationship.


Stronger, more sustainable community-based organizations can contribute to a more effective and participatory civil society response to the needs of vulnerable people in the developing world.

Donors can support organizations even at the beginning stages of organizational development with an intent to leave groups stronger than when they first entered into partnership. Different types of capacity building activities such as mentoring relationships and exchange visits between organizations can offer the most relevant and supportive technical assistance through sharing on-the-ground experience among organizations at all levels of organizational development.

More Effective Aid: Don’t Just Develop Capacity – Unleash It

Tom Grubisich's picture

Photo credit: OECDThe authors of this post, Tom Grubisich and Jennifer Lentfer, will be co-moderating the session “Winds of Change: Will They Bring a New Paradigm to Development Assistance?” at the Civil Society Forum of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. Here is the full schedule of sessions with the Civil Society Forum. The session will be held on Friday, April 15, at 2 p.m. in the C1 Level of the Main Complex of the World Bank (room 100). A livestream of the roundtable will be available and you can also follow the discussion that day on Twitter via #windsofchange.

The Arab awakening in North Africa and the Middle East is shaking up what has been a slow-moving effort to reform the effectiveness of development aid. The awakening and aid reform share common goals – affirming human rights, social justice and transparency. As events in the Middle East continue to fundamentally reshape society, we must ask: How can development assistance also be reshaped to put more power in the hands of the people?

The Revolution Will Not Be Donor-Harmonized

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

It's hard not to be inspired by Nick Kristof's article on "The D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution" in the New York Times. His detail-rich story of energetic, socially conscious people routing around the bureaucracy of large aid organizations to tangibly and directly improve people's lives in the developing world is both important and thought-provoking. And it helps reframe the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of development assistance from one of "nothing works" to "there are so many ways to make this work."

Results’ Agenda and Economists

Eliana Cardoso's picture

In the book, The Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen motivates the discussion on the importance of processes and responsibilities by relying on an example. In the Gita (part of the Mahabharata), on the eve of the crucial battle episode in the epic, Arjuna expresses his doubts about leading the fight which will result in so much killing. Lord Krishna, tells him that he, Arjuna, must perform his duty, that is, to fight. And to fight, irrespective of the consequences.

Krishna’s blessing of the demands of duty is meant to win the argument from a religious perspective. But most of us would share Arjuna’s concerns about the fact that, if the war were to occur, with him leading the charge on the side of justice and propriety, many people would get killed. He himself would be doing a lot of the killing, often of people for whom he had affection.

Infant mortality rates in Africa will increase by 30,000-50,000 - Girls will fare worse

Norbert Schady's picture

The impact of the global financial crisis on infant mortality is a topic of great policy importance. However, estimates of the likely impacts of the crisis, cited by international institutions and in the popular press, differ wildly.

This blogpost summarizes the main conclusions from some of my own recent research on this topic, jointly with various colleagues.

These conclusions include:

Education and Finance in Africa

Shanta Devarajan's picture

At a recent conference that brought together African Finance and Education ministers, the keynote speaker, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, finance minister (and former education minister) of Singapore gave a beautiful speech about Singapore's experience that contained some potentially difficult and controversial messages for Africa.


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