Thursday, March 29, 2007

A New Framework for Development

Event Title: A New Framework for Development
Sponsor: Society for International Development
Location: Academy for Educational Development
Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Time: 2:00 – 3:00
Approximate Number of Attendees: 125
Intern Attending: Blake Dublin

Speaker: Dirk Dijkerman

Randall L. Tobias, Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, asks the question “what can make foreign assistance more effective?” Present US foreign assistance has been in a fractured state and too sector-driven, rendering its goals scattered and unclear. The goal should be to maximize country progress; so what is a country’s aid doing to achieve progress? Currently, much aid is being invested for regional prosperity and stability. The aim is mutually beneficial for regional development and US interests. But in order to attain regional success, significant funds must be allocated to specific countries in order to increase their resources. The 2008 fiscal year saw aid requests increase by 12%. While many countries request aid, those who have shown prior commitment to progress were more likely to receive it.

USAID worked with the state department to allocate funds for the 2008 fiscal year budget. At least 68% of funds are geared toward large and very large scale programs, an increase from 55% in 2006. Among “rebuilding nations” the biggest budget changes were seen in an increase from 12% to 18% allocated to governing justly and democratically. This is an effort to increase stability. For “developing countries,” investment in people (focusing on HIV/AIDS programs, for example), witnessed an increase from 30% to 44%. And in “transforming countries” the most significant change was in economic growth aid, which increased to 40% from 19%. The region which saw the biggest change is Africa, with a 54% increase and large amounts for HIV/AIDS programs. Conversely, the Europe/Eurasia region experienced a decrease in aid.

A breakdown of the highlights are as follows: Near East - a 6% increase for vital investments in winning the Global War on Terror and empowering the people of this key region; Western Hemisphere - with this request, aid to the region has doubled under this administration, from $862 million to $1.6 billion, and is focused on continued economic growth and strengthening democratic institutions; Peace and Security - $6.88 billion for counterterrorism and counter-narcotics activities and programs to secure necessary conditions for further political, economic, and social progress; Governing Justly and Democratically - $1.45 billion to promote effective, accountable, democratic governance; Investing in People - $6.95 billion to support human capacity development and address poverty and disease, including, $4.5 billion to meet the treatment and prevention goals of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, $388 million for the President's Malaria Initiative, and $535 million to support equitable access and improved quality of basic education; Economic Growth - $2.37 billion to support economic progress and poverty reduction; and Humanitarian Assistance - $2.12 billion to alleviate human suffering and respond to destabilizing humanitarian disasters.

Compared to other branches of the US government, the foreign aid budget experienced the largest increase, demonstrating the recognition of America’s role in the world. “Recognizing one’s place in the world community is key to long term progress,” said Dijkerman. And as always, of central concern to the budget is that “the security of the American people depends on global stability and prosperity.”

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