Noteworthy News – 3.19

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

  • Haiti’s Do-It-Yourself Recovery (The New York Times-Lawrence Downes, March 15) There is a new group of Haitians in Port-au-Prince that calls itself the Civil Society Watchdog Group ( They did their own survey of nine refugee settlements and issued a report on March 8 citing troubling lapses in security, sanitation and water distribution. Their big concern is the hundreds of millions of dollars outside groups are raising and spending on behalf of Haitians. They want transparency and accountability. They want groups to put the money trail online. I hope their plea is not ignored.
  • Worst in Aid: the Grand Prize (Aid Watch-William Easterly & Laura Freschi, March 15) But it’s too late. Sacrificing long term development aims for short term military and diplomatic objectives is what the US already does, and the 3Ds is making it worse. That’s why the Grand Prize for the Worst in Aid goes to…the 3D approach, nominated by an anonymous reader.
  • U.S Aid for Foreign Development Crucial to our Future (Miami Herald-Will Bennett, March 16) Having served in the combat zone, I have seen firsthand the importance of foreign aid to our national security. I have seen how relatively small investments now can pay huge dividends down the road and save us money in the long run by helping avoid future conflict. U.S. development efforts that are saving lives, building opportunity and adding to our security should not be cut. They need to be maintained and strengthened.
  • The ‘Mullen Doctrine’ Takes Shape (Washington Independent-Spencer Ackerman, March 16) Mullen’s major proposal is that the military should be deployed for future counterinsurgencies or other unconventional conflicts “only if and when the other instruments of national power are ready to engage as well,” such as governance advisers, development experts, and other civilians. “We ought to make it a precondition of committing our troops,” Mullen said, warning that “we aren’t moving fast enough” to strengthen the institutional capacity of the State Department and USAID in order to lift the greatest burdens of national security off the shoulders of the military.
  • MFAN-related: Our Money in Pakistan ( Traub, March 17) The AfPak strategy constitutes a recognition that U.S. national security now depends upon producing internal change in states — the kind of change development assistance (as opposed to, say, regime change) is designed to bring about. The Pakistan policy requires no such short-term miracle; indeed, the five-year time frame of Kerry-Lugar-Berman is meant to signal to Pakistanis that the U.S. commitment will not be episodic, as it has been in the past.  The money will start flowing in the next few months, and when it does, it will look very different from the aid program of recent years.
  • Crumbs from the BRICs-man’s table (The Economist, March 18) But a new study* by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a British think-tank, says the emerging countries (such as the BRICs) increasingly affect the growth prospects of poorer ones. In other words, after decades of talk about the importance of “south-south” ties, those links have finally started to mean something.

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