Democrats and Republicans on Foreign Aid

A useful article on the differences between the platforms on US foreign aid. Especially interesting for my field is the debate on where to park Obama's signature Global Health Initiative. This year a decision was made to maintain its diplomacy focus by parking it in the State Department (versus transferring it to USAID, the USG's development agency). The discussion is an interesting one because it explores the nature of US foreign aid, which is managed by multiple USG agencies. … [Read more...]

Cambodia Opens China-Funded Hydro-Electric Dam

I'm remembering the floods in 2009 when the cause was hush-hush (it wasn't the rains)... The dam in Kampot begins operations today. From the comment stream, on Chinese-style development: seems everything China does is bad and should be criticised by the west.lol it is same in my home country(Cameroon), however most of us Africans know this is just geopolitics and the fact that china threatens the west hegemony and power. Anyway I op the U.S will see reason and accommodate the rise of China, since there is nothing much they can do about this( as the bible says: Kingdom rise, kingdom fall) no matter what u do, u cant change this fact. the earlier the U, S understand this the better. I like and respect the U.S its one of my best … [Read more...]

Budget cuts by hatchet or scalpel?

The excerpt below is from PBS's Need to Know. Read the entire piece, Budget Cuts by Hatchet or Scalpel, written by Joshua Foust. Follow him on Google+. This weekend’s “debt deal” in Congress, which raised the debt ceiling and agreed to some cuts in the future, contains a change in how the international affairs budget is calculated within the federal budget. In Section 102 of the bill, Function 150 budgets are reclassified as “security.” This means foreign assistance and development programs — USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and lots of State Department programs — are now in the same budget category as the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and the National Nuclear Safety Administration. It might seem like a … [Read more...]

Review: Wrike (web-based project management tool)

The context of this review is at the end of this post. Other useful reviews I've found, some which echo a few points below, are here (reviewed against LiquidPlanner, 2010), here (reviewed against BaseCamp, 2007), here (comments from 2009), and here (2007). My main complaint is the inconsistency problem in user experience: between users, within each user's experience in using the same function, and then our team's experience conflicts directly with what Wrike says its platform can do. What could this be from? The caching? The firewalls? We already all use the same version of Chrome. Basic functionalities I expect from a project management platform: 1. Buffering between dependencies is unreliable – sometimes the buffer periods stick, … [Read more...]

how China sees Africa: We get commodities, you get infrastructure. Cool?

H/T Paul Kedrosky! On the shopping list for my next civilisation run is the latest bestseller "The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World" of Niall Ferguson, a Scottish intellectual gifted with breaking down history, finance and politics into simple understandable language. Here he talks about China and Africa in an interview: Q Is China’s rise to power a bad thing? A It is not a bad thing that the most populous country in the world is emerging from grinding poverty and hundreds of thousands of people who were in subsistence agriculture now have better paying jobs. That can’t be a bad thing. The problem is that in the realm of politics, China’s [position] is not necessarily benign. They [do not] remotely share our … [Read more...]

the good news on maternal mortality, and the politics of aid

A good discussion in the Columbia Journalism Review on science versus advocacy, on the heels of The Lancet's piece on declining Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) worldwide (using new, more rigorous modeling on countries with estimates available): On Wednesday, The New York Times gave its lead front-page slot to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, where, “For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980 … The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more … [Read more...]

crisis innovations

One of the frustrations of working on a development project with a focus on policy work is that the impact on very urgent needs is years away. There is certainly value to shaping the legal environment to pave the way for changes to set roots. But as I mentioned in an earlier post about why I use twitter, I'm interested in how social issues are tackled now, across different continents. So check out the practical ideas borne out of  crises around the world. One of them hit the NY Times lately, Africa's Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis. @Ushahidi suggests a new paradigm in humanitarian work. The old paradigm was one-to-many: foreign journalists and aid workers jet in, report on a calamity and dispense aid with whatever … [Read more...]

…since we’re on the topic of Development!

What happens when well meaning aid and development 'experts' find a hungry man?Bought this gem of illustrations from the author years ago in Cambodia. It's a riot read for anyone in the field (and managers sitting in headquarters). Available online here.. … [Read more...]