Noteworthy News – 2.12

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

  • One Month Later, Haiti’s Humanitarian Crisis Remains (Huffington Post-Rajiv Shah, February 12) Despite the human challenges, we are working with the Haitian people and their leaders to focus on tomorrow, even as we face enormous challenges.  With this sense of urgency, the United States will continue to work tirelessly with Haiti and our international partners to identify where each country can best contribute, in order to alleviate this humanitarian crisis and lay the foundation for future Haitian development that reduces the impact such disasters have on Haiti’s population.
  • MFAN-related: Aid groups fear Haitian relief diverts funds from other needs (The Washington Post, February 12) Samuel A. Worthington, the president of InterAction, a coalition of more than 150 humanitarian groups, wrote Thursday to top officials at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that he was “deeply concerned about the impact” that reductions would have in other regions.  “We’re working very hard to make sure all our programs can continue full speed ahead,” said Susan Reichle, a top USAID official. She said agency officials had started prioritizing projects in different parts of the world in case the congressional funds are slow to arrive or are less than anticipated.
  • Only Haitians Can Save Haiti ( French, February 11) The well-educated diaspora could lead a remake of the educational system, providing a much-needed model for the rollout of other vital services, from public health to justice to agricultural extension and a new fiscal infrastructure. With international support, such a program could fund the presence of returnees from abroad in small towns and villages across the country for fixed terms of perhaps two or three years, during which time they would staff local schools and train indigenous teachers. This training and hiring of locals would spread opportunity through society while it built capacity for future years.
  • Good Intentions Gone Wrong (The Globe & Mail, February 9) The problems stem from a combination of the overwhelming number of aid groups operating in Haiti and the lack of government capabilities. Haiti has relied on a patchwork of outside assistance organizations for so long that the government has never learned how to deliver services to the country in the best of times. Add to that a massive disaster and a swarm of hands trying to help, and the abundance of good intentions overwhelmed the scarce capacities of the country and the organizations.
  • Rapid city growth threat to Africa’s development: UN (Reuters Africa, February 8) Rapid and chaotic urbanisation is threatening sustainable development in Africa, the head of the U.N. housing agency said on Monday, but taking steps to mitigate climate change could help tackle some of the problems of cities. “After HIV and Aids, the biggest threat to sustainable development in Africa is rapid and chaotic urbanisation, because it is a recipe for disaster for increased tensions and pressure.”

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