The third essay in the series, Development Works, is about US leadership in the area of global development. The US has long been a super power, and this essay explores how creating, strengthening, and sustaining global partnerships for development can help the United States make a wider, deeper, and more long-term impact on a problem most Americans care about: global hunger and extreme poverty.
Here are the key points in the third essay:
Strengthening global partnerships for development can help
the United States make a deeper impact on hunger and extreme
poverty around the world. These issues require collective action;
no one country has enough power or resources to solve the
Multilateral cooperation enables the global community to
pool resources, share knowledge of what is working well, and
identify and fill funding gaps in the most promising programs. In
international development, the whole is greater than the sum of
U.S. leadership is essential to global action on food security—
it persuades others to act. A 2009 U.S. proposal to invest
significantly more resources in agriculture won support from
donors in the “Group of 8” (G-8) developed nations, who
committed to providing $22 billion to improve agricultural
productivity over three years. In contrast, when the United States
reduced its support for agricultural development in the late 1980s,
the efforts of most other developed countries waned as well.
Here are a few more important tidbits:
Since 2008, when sudden steep increases in the cost of
basic foods resulted in tens of millions of newly hungry
people, the G-8 has focused on enabling developing countries
to build food security. In May 2012, just before the United States hosted the most recent G-8 summit, President Obama gave the first speech on global hunger ever given by an American president while in office. He announced a new partnership to speed efforts to end hunger and improve child nutrition, particularly in the 1,000-day “window of opportunity” between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.
The “donor-led” model of development has important disadvantages. Development programs may be less effective, since they were often not part of a well-thought-out plan and the people who were supposed to benefit were rarely
consulted. The governments of developing countries missed opportunities to develop the skills and experience needed
to reach their national development goals independently. In addition, governments had to devote significant staff time and resources to fulfilling the varied requirements of a host of donors. Two examples of this: Vietnam received 752 missions from donors in 2007, while a study in Tanzania found that some
district health officials spent 25 working days each quarter (100 working days every year) writing reports for donors—time that could have been spent delivering services.
The “aid recipient” approach is being replaced with more collaborative forms of development assistance, often called the “countryled” approach. Since the goal of development assistance is ultimately to help countries reach the point where they no longer need outside assistance, country-led programs make perfect sense. When countries are in charge of their own development plans, they can also take advantage of opportunities to work with emerging economies and other
developing countries toward development goals.
Myth: The United States provides more than its fair share of development assistance. Reality: Multilateral programs are supported financially by a variety of donors. For example, the
L’Aquila global agriculture initiative includes not only pledges of $3.5 billion over three years from the United States and $3 billion each from Germany and Japan, but also $2 billion from the Netherlands (population 16.7 million) and $1 billion from Canada (population 34.7 million).
The United States saves millions of lives every year with programs like child immunizations, PEPFAR, and food aid. There is no doubt that our efforts make a big difference. But the amount the United States gives per person is less than average for donors and far less than Scandinavian countries. Preliminary data for 2011 indicate that Sweden and Denmark devoted
more than 1 percent of their national incomes to development assistance. The U.K. gave 0.56 percent, the average for 23 donor countries was 0.46 percent, and the United States was near the bottom of the list at 0.2 percent.
Myth: U.S. leadership on development assistance isn’t really essential.
Reality: U.S. leadership leverages additional funding from other donors. Recently, USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah told members of Congress that the agency is increasing its contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria “to make sure that we’re investing in those multilateral
vehicles that allow us to leverage our dollars with the dollars of other donors and generate $2 or $3 or $4 of investment for very $1 we put in.”
Conversely, U.S. withdrawal from development initiatives sends a signal that often leads to a decrease in support from other onors as well. For example, when the United States cut back on its support for agricultural development at the end of the 1980s, the efforts of most other developed countries waned as well.
Agriculture remained a relatively neglected area until as recently as 2008, when the global food price crisis and other factors, such as new information on the damage caused by early childhood malnutrition, brought leaders’ attention back to the necessity of improving farming if we are to reduce hunger.
I am very thankful for the educational materials and the leadership pf Bread for the World.
- TidBits to Follow Effective Development Post (tbolto.wordpress.com)
- Effective Development Assistance Works (tbolto.wordpress.com)
- Development Assistance for Health (DAH) – Challenges and Fault Lines (globalinasia.net)