Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Smart Development Methods Discussed on Capitol Hill

Yesterday, on Capitol Hill, in an event sponsored by Oxfam America, Jeremy Konyndyk of Mercy Corps, Carla Levine of Care International, and Dr. Michael Carter of the University of Wisconsin discussed successful approaches “smart development.” Each speaker shared a unique perspective on past experiences and projects in international development that proved tremendously successful.

Dr. Carter discussed a program called “HSNP+”, used in the arid and semi-arid regions of Northern Kenya. This program aims to keep people above the key threshold which requires them to receive cash payouts for survival by insuring livestock. Asset protection is possible because of technologies that are able to predict 80% of livestock mortality. Dr Carter referred to this technique of smart development as “preemptive food aid.”

Jeremy Konyndyk focused on a successful method used on a project in Kosovo, entitled the MISI Project. The MISI operated over a five year period in sixteen municipalities in Kosovo with a total budget of $7.8 million. The project aimed to foster engagement between minority communities and the government and between majority and minority communities, also called “vertical and horizontal engagement.” The MISI project also sought to engage the sizeable youth population in community development initiatives. Results from Mercy Corp’s work in the area included improved “inter-ethnic relations and cooperation”, infrastructure planning, and efforts to address “minority return issues.”

Finally, Carla Levine described the efforts of her organization, Care International, along with Catholic Relief Services, to institute savings-led financial services as a mechanism for good development. The goals of the projects described were to “improve short and long-term household food security in vulnerable areas, replenish vulnerable households’ productive assets, and improve vulnerable households’ resiliency to future shocks.” Local participants in these efforts thought they fostered “improved social cohesion”, increased status of women, better household food security, “replenished productive assets.”

All participants on the panel agreed that a lack of extended, committed funding to projects was a major, concrete hindrance on the application of smart development methods in general.

Sponsor: Oxfam America
Date: September 8, 2008
Time: 2-3pm
Representative Attending: Sarah Shebby

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