Noteworthy News – 1.29

This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

News on Haiti:

  • Agreement on Effort to Help Haiti Rebuild (The New York Times, January 26) Concerned about corruption and wobbly Haitian leadership, international donors agreed Monday during a meeting in Montreal on a 10-year rebuilding effort for earthquake-damaged Haiti, one that would create an even better capital city and that the government said would cost $3 billion.  [Clinton]: “Sometimes people have pledging conferences and pledge money, and they don’t have any idea what they’re going to do with it. We actually think it’s a novel idea to do the needs assessment first and then the planning and then the pledging.”
  • Clinton: Critics of US Haiti Relief Misguided (AP, January 26) ”Some of the international press either misunderstood or deliberately misconstrued what was a civilian and military response, both of them necessary in order to be able to deliver aid to the Haitians who desperately needed it,” Clinton told a gathering of State Department employees.
  • MFAN-related: A Better Week for Haiti – And With These Reforms, a Far Better Future (Huffington Post-Charles MacCormack, January 29) Drawing on Save the Children’s recent study Insights from the Field: Haiti, I believe four key reforms are needed to fulfill the promises of the Montreal commitment to rebuild Haiti:  1) Invest in Haitian institutions. Rebuilding infrastructure matters, but promoting human development matters even more. 2) Encourage the private sector’s role in development. 3) Empower one U.S. agency to oversee all development work in Haiti. 4) Increase accountability through transparency.

Other News:

  • Congress weighs in on foreign-aid reform (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, January 29) Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, introduced a State Department policy bill for both fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 today.  “This is the first time in eight years that the Foreign Relations Committee will pass a State Department authorization bill, and we do so at a critical moment,” Kerry said in a statement. “This is precisely the moment when our investment in diplomacy is most needed and this bill provides our diplomatic corps with essential tools, authorities and resources to succeed in the tough jobs we continually require of them.”
  • Audit deems Pakistan aid program a failure (FP Blog-Colum Lynch, January 28) The two year-old development program for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was designed to help improve living standards in one of Pakistan’s poorest and most politically unstable territories. So far, only $15.5 million has been spent on the initiative.  “It has not achieved the goal of improving the capacity of FATA governmental institutions to govern,” according to the audit, which was produced by the inspector general’s office in Manila, the Philippines. And it “did not increase the capacities of [local] NGOs to promote good governance, although some progress was made.”

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