Policy News Roundup – May 6

compiled by Eugenia Ho, Global Washington volunteer

New Timing for Strategic Reviews

The interim findings of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) were expected to be released in January.  After months of delay, it is likely that they will not be released at all.  However, the QDDR still expects to release its findings in September, which is when the discussion on the progress of the Millennium Department Goals will be held at the UN General Assembly meeting.

Discussion with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah

 “Our time to change is now” according to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, at an event hosted by U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in Washington DC.  He rolled out the four overarching themes that will guide USAID reform:  recommitting to the Millennium Development Goals; investing more in country-led plans for growth; increasing the focus on science and technology to assist development; and improving implementation of development programs in conflict areas.  Shah also stressed a new commitment to transparency.  To watch the video of the event, please click here.

Despite billions wasted, more foreign aid needed: Oxfam

Oxfam International released a report coinciding with the gathering of international development ministers from the G8 nations last week, suggesting that foreign aid dollars have been wasted on corrupt and ineffective foreign-aid programs over the past several decades.  The report recommends that governments and donor agencies such as the UN should make aid funding more predictable, so recipient countries can plan better. The report also recommends strict transparency and accountability conditions for aid funding, requiring the money to be used to pay for public services.

Foreign Aid Reform: Spaghetti, Leaks and Hope

The National Security Council (NSC) has leaked a document which calls for the elevation of development as a central pillar of U.S. national security; it calls for a strengthened development agency (USAID) and independent development voice at the table when relevant policy is debated; and it calls for greater coherence in U.S. development policy through the framework of a quadrennial U.S. Global Development Strategy.  Although there are still many important issues to be debated and discussed, the vision outlined for the future has a lot to cheer for.  Click here  to view the full draft of the leaked NSC document.  Also see the Global Washington blog post about this document.

Hearing on Human Rights and Democracy Assistance:  Increasing the Effectiveness of U.S. Foreign Aid

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Human Rights and Democracy Assistance:  Increasing the Effectiveness of U.S. Foreign Aid, on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 9:30am.  For more information (and to see the live webcast), please click here .

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill‏

While the disaster is continuing to materialize and the cause is still under investigation, the recent event of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the subsequent oil spill has led to discussions on its impact on U.S. energy policy, especially efforts to increase leasing acreage and oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  Governors of California and Florida have already withdrawn their support for the idea of expanding offshore drilling, and some congressmen have warned that they can no longer support energy reform legislation if it includes such provisions.  In this article, Frank A. Verrastro, senior VP and Director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. answers critical questions relating to the impact on U.S. energy policy.  Policy changes as a result of this oil spill may have direct and indirect implications for developing countries.

Book Review: Development and its Discontents

In her new book, “Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits,” Kenyan newspaper columnist Rasna Warah explores the root causes of poverty and inequality in Africa and the value of development.  She concludes that by treating poverty as a “problem” to be solved with technical expertise and outside assistance, “development” in the form of donor-inspired policies ignores, and even contributes to, the very issues that are at the heart of Africa’s underdevelopment.  This book is reminiscent of Dambisa Moyo’s popular book “Dead Aid,” and is critical of World Bank officials and global development activists alike.

Nigerian President Yar’Adua dies after long illness

Nigeria is one of the top 10 recipients of US Foreign Aid, according to 2008 USAID figures.  Although the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, has now sworn in as President, following the death of President Yar’Adua, there will not be an election in 2011.  Will instability in Nigeria change the level of US foreign aid to the country in the next couple of years?