This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.
News on Haiti
- Renewal, not restoration, should be the goal for Haiti (The Washington Post-Ban Ki-moon, March 29) On Wednesday, world leaders gather at U.N. headquarters in New York for a critical donors conference — a tangible expression of solidarity with the Haitian government and its people. Haitian President René Préval calls it a “rendezvous with history,” a compact to build what he calls “a new Haiti,” a Haiti transformed. It is a mission to offer (and deliver) hope. That is our challenge in New York — not to rebuild but to “build back better,” to create a new Haiti. As we move from emergency aid to longer-term reconstruction, let us recognize that we cannot accept business as usual. What we envision today is nothing less than a wholesale national renewal.
- In blueprint for Haiti, U.S. takes new approach to aid (The Washington Post, March 30) “We are completely focused on how to build the capacity of the Haitian government effectively,” said Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. “That is something everyone has recognized as being one of the failures of aid in the past.” In contrast, the new U.S. plan focuses on four areas: health; agriculture; governance and security; and infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on energy. In each one, “we anticipate making investments that would strengthen the ministries,” Mills said.
- $5.3 billion pledged over 2 years at U.N. conference for Haiti reconstruction (The Washington Post, March 31) The plan calls for an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission — co-chaired by Haiti’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, and former president Bill Clinton — to oversee the reconstruction with the assistance of scores of foreign technocrats, including officials seconded by the U.S. government. It will also have a watchdog office to discourage corruption. The commission, which is to be in place for 18 months, will provide a sort of scaffolding for the creation of a senior Haitian bureaucracy, officials said.
- Control That Capital (ForeignPolicy.com-Kevin Gallagher, March 29) Capital flows — basically, investment from one country into another — can help developing countries grow. Many developing economies lack the savings and financial institutions to help finance and kick-start business activity. Money and investment from abroad can help fill that gap. The new IMF study finds that such capital controls helped buffer against some of the worst effects of the financial crisis in some developing countries, such as Colombia, Brazil, India, Thailand, and China. It thus endorses capital controls as part of the macroeconomic policy tool kit.
- Foreign aid: Women’s progress is human progress, and human progress is women’s progress (The Globe and Mail-Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, March 30) Women are central to our effort to elevate development as a pillar of our foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defence. As those who grow the world’s food, collect the water, gather the firewood and wash the clothes – and, increasingly, as those who work in the factories, run the shops, launch new businesses and create jobs – women are powerful forces for economic growth and social progress.