USAID

Constructivist Cartography

The development blogosphere recently lit up with news of South Sudan’s plan to rebuild some of its urban centers in the shape of various animals.

Africans do not want or need Britain’s development aid

Editor’s note: This letter was published in the Telegraph (UK) on 22 Aug 2010 with the title given above for this post.

SIR – The parlous state of the public finances in Britain provides the perfect opportunity for British taxpayers to end their half-century-long experiment with “development aid”, which has, since its inception, stunted growth and subsidised bad governance in Africa.

The Battle for the Dream

 
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream today!

Pete Boettke: economist extraordinaire

The WSJ has a well-deserved, laudatory profile of Peter Boettke of George Mason University. The Journal stresses mainly his role in the Hayek vs. Keynes debate. I have learned from him in the area of Hayek vs. central planning, the subject more relevant to my own interests in long-run development. He is also a generous colleague and friend. Congrats, Pete!

Transparency International clarifies the debate, deplores attacks on Till Bruckner

Editor’s note: Transparency International Georgia submitted this contribution to the debate originally sparked by Till Bruckner’s post The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test.
We at TI Georgia have closely followed this debate about whether and to what extent USAID and its NGO contractors should make their budgets public. Till Bruckner began his quest for answers while he was working with us in 2008-09, although his pursuit of the NGO budgets via FOIA requests to USAID was not conducted under the auspices of TI Georgia.

I have a dream: the Powerpoint aid jargon version

Recycled this on Huffington Post for tomorrow’s 47th anniversary of MLK’s greatest speech of all time.

This just in: there was a flood in Pakistan

We have chronicled here on Aid Watch how media coverage of disasters influences disasters, and how late the US media has been to the story of the disastrous flood in Pakistan, with apparently anemic donor response as a result.
Puzzlement deepened this morning at 7:30 am when I picked up my NYT off my doorstep and saw the four column front-page headline: Much of Pakistan’s Progress is Lost in Its Floodwaters.  The NYT devotes not only the huge front-page space to the flood, but also two prime pages inside of the first section. Could somebody please explain the mysterious alchemy by which a tragedy going on for a month already finally become a huge story?

NGO Transparency: Counterpart International to release budget

Editor’s note: Aid Watch received the following statement from Counterpart International in response to a request for comment on Till Bruckner’s post The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test.

Laura in NYT debate on Can Aid Buy Taliban’s Love?

NYT DEBATE: Can Flood Aid Weaken the Taliban in Pakistan?
Or is it more likely that extremist groups will capitalize on the chaos created by the disaster?
Laura Freschi’s answer: aid doesn’t help with the Taliban, but give anyway.

The idea that flood aid will change Pakistani perceptions about the U.S. in a lasting and meaningful way is both unproven and based on simplistic, even condescending assumptions about the beneficiaries of America’s aid.
….

From Russia With Color, 1909

This amazing collection of color photographs taken in Russia in 1909-1912 is really unmissable (H/T Mari Kuraishi).
The picture is of an autocrat in Uzbekistan. Since then, there has been much progress, in the form of cheap polyester suits for today’s autocrats in Uzbekistan.

Our internal foreign aid program

The US Recovery Act (aka “stimulus package”) has put out this great map of where the money is being spent by Congressional District.

David Rieff takes on Hillary’s “new approach” to Global Health

In a blog post for The New Republic, author David Rieff calls Hillary Clinton’s approach to development naïve, contradictory, and muddled. His post is a response to Clinton’s speech, delivered last week at SAIS, about the administration’s six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative.
Rieff’s critique rests on three main arguments, all of which will be familiar to Aid Watch readers.

Response from Mercy Corps on Transparency

Editor’s note: Aid Watch received the following from Mercy Corps in response to a request for comment on Till Bruckner’s post The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test. We have reproduced the Mercy Corps response here in full:

USAID and NGO transparency: When in doubt, hide the data

by Till Bruckner, PhD candidate at the University of Bristol and former Transparency International Georgia aid monitoring coordinator
In my last blog post on this website, I claimed that some NGOs had instructed USAID to hide part or all of their project budgets in a FOIA response, and praised others for their openness. Aid Watch subsequently contacted all NGOs mentioned in the piece for comments.
In its response, World Vision denied ever having asked USAID to withhold budgetary information:

Superstition and Development

By Peter T. Leeson, BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at George Mason University.
Gypsies believe that the lower half of the human body is invisibly polluted, that supernatural defilement is supernaturally contagious, and that non-Gypsies are spiritually toxic.
Far from irrational, these superstitions are central to Gypsies’ system of social order. Gypsies can’t rely on government-created legal institutions to support cooperation between them. Many of their economic and social relationships are unrecognized or illegal according to state law. Yet Gypsies’ need for law and order is as strong as anyone else’s.

Aid Watch addresses an unexpected embarrassing problem

We’ve noticed a strange phenomenon on Aid Watch: our April 10, 2010 post Famine Africa stereotype porn shows no letup has also shown the least letup of any of our posts, showing up with traffic day after day. It is now the fourth most popular post of all time on Aid Watch. I was rather slow to figure out what was going on, which just shows what being raised as a Methodist in squeaky-clean rural Ohio can do to you.

The Ground Zero mosque and cognitive biases

Among the many other things involved in this controversy, stereotypes of Muslims are not exactly helping.

World Vision responds on transparency

Editor’s note: we are posting the following note received in its entirety from World Vision.
World Vision Statement
In response to the Aid Watch post: The Accidental NGO and USAID Transparency Test

NGO Response: CNFA Reaffirms Commitment to Transparency

Editor’s note: We emailed every organization mentioned in Till Bruckner’s recent blog post, The accidental NGO and USAID Transparency Test to ask for their comment. CNFA sent us a response (also posted on their website) this afternoon, which we are reproducing here in full:

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