In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, FP staff writer Josh Rogin lists foreign aid as one of “the top eight foreign-policy items currently held up by the do-nothing 112th Congress.” According to Rogin, “Everyone agrees that the foreign aid system is broken. Over-outsourcing, poor monitoring, and a lack of cohesion and accountability have plagued the U.S. aid system for decades. However, nobody in Congress agrees on exactly how to fix it. â€¦ The result is a nasty stalemate â€“ a familiar feature in Congress as the country heads into the 2012 presidential season” (8/4).
“In recent years, nearly every demographic study has painted a dire picture of the world’s changing demographics. Yet when the U.N. issued its latest report this past May, it seemed almost sunny,” Jonathan Last, senior writer at the Weekly Standard, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He says that “[t]he catch is that it may not be true” because “the U.N. has had to make one very big assumption: Starting tomorrow, every country in the world with fertility below the replacement rate of 2.10 will increase its fertility. And this rise will continue unabated, year after year, until every First World country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) near replacement.”
A case in Uganda of a woman bleeding to death while giving birth “underscores an unintended consequence of global health aid,” a Globe and Mail editorial writes, adding that “in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, a reverse trend is under way; for every $1 of development assistance for health, governments have reduced their spending,” according to a study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
“The Obama administration deserves credit for acting in advance to ameliorate the effects” of drought in East Africa, a New York Times editorial states, noting that USAID has been working since last summer, when the crisis was predicted, to “plac[e] food and other supplies in Kenya, Djibouti and South Africa” and “working on programs to help Somalia and other countries improve food production to avert future crises.”
“This week the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launches a global campaign â€“ ‘It’s a matter of life and death’ â€“ which aims to improve security and delivery of effective and impartial health care in situations of armed conflict and other contexts of widespread violence,” Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the British Medical Association, writes in a BMJ editorial.
“Outside of immediate crisis relief,” such as the administration of measles vaccinations or oral rehydration therapy for children affected by diarrheal diseases, the U.S. government’s “past investments clearly are paying off” in the fight against drought and famine the Horn of Africa, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “U.S.-supported early-warning networks identified the famine threat a year ago,” the government is working with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. to lessen the risk of corruption and looting of food aid, and “the multi-year, multi-agency Feed the Future program [is] stimulat[ing] research into making plants more nutritious and crops more drought-resistant,” he notes.
Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) write in a USA Today opinion piece about their visit last week to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, stating, “Amid the devastation, we saw the impact of [U.S. and international] aid. We saw inexpensive oral rehydration packs bring listless babies back to life. We saw children getting vitamins and vaccines that will stop the spread of deadly diseases throughout the camps.”
In the wake of the agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, and “[w]ith 20 percent cuts already on the table, the international affairs budget is in for a tough fight throughout the fall,” Richard Parker, director of communications for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, writes in a post on Devex’s “Obama’s Foreign Aid Reform” blog, stating, “It is more critical than ever for the development community to demonstrate how strategic and effective its programs are for U.S. national security, for our own economy, and as a demonstration of our leadership in the world.”
“We were deeply perturbed to learn that the negotiations for the Outcomes Document of the U.N. High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), a mere month or so away, had stalled because member states failed to reach consensus,” Nalini Saligram, CEO of Arogya World, and Sandeep Kishore, an MD/PhD candidate at the Cornell/ Rockefeller/ Sloan-Kettering Institute, write in a Huffington Post opinion piece.
August 19 is recognized worldwide as World Humanitarian Day, when “[w]e honor â€¦ those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions,” a Manila Bulletin editorial states. “World Humanitarian Day is a collaborative global celebration of humanitarian aid work joining the United Nations and over 500 national and international non-governmental organizations aimed at engaging and inspiring the general public to get involved,” the editorial notes.