Tuesday, August 3, 2010


We're 18 months into the administration and among the things that have been put on the back burner (something has to be, after all) is development. CGD worries that USAID has a director ... and all other appointments are still empty.

Also 18 months into the administration, USAID has announced its grand strategic plan (which will be difficult to carry out without its leadership) to accomplish the MDGs ... with 5 years left. Freschi over at Aid Watch is confused:
But a curious feature of the new US strategy is its failure to mention the goals by name, or to strategize progress specifically towards any of the agreed-on indicators. From the critics’ point of view, this is certainly better than the UN Millennium Project’s strategy, which created a 449-step comprehensive strategy to reach the 8 goals and 18 targets. But with no concreteness on goals or indicators at all, one wonders what exactly was the point of the new US strategy
She wonders if this is nothing more than PR: Could it b that "... the MDGs are a politically costless way for any given aid donor to create a positive image of benevolence towards the world’s poor, which is sadly unrelated to whether the goals are actually achieved?"

Aid Thoughts has a different take that could readily be worked up into a proper game theory model. The USAID announcement acts as if we were the only donor out there. After discussing why the conslidation of donor groups is unpopular with national governments and their electorates and why coordination is scarcely more popular, we get this delightful comparison to Monty Python's Life of Brian:
By announcing “this is what we are going to do regardless of what anyone else is doing,” USAID might be allowing more flexible, more thoughtful donors to pursue complementary strategies. In essence, by declaring openly that they are going to kidnap Pilate’s wife [You can watch the scene here (fast-forward to 5:00)], they nudge other groups to focus their efforts elsewhere. Let’s hope they respond to that nudge.

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