In this post in the ONE blog, Brooks Keene, policy adviser for CARE’s water team, “makes the argument that foreign aid should benefit the poor first and foremost,” noting, “As we approach World Water Day on March 22, CARE, [the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)] and WaterAid have published a report card [.pdf] on how well” the Water for the Poor Act, passed by Congress in 2005, “has been implemented seven years down the line.” She writes, “In the absence of a strategy, USAID has gone ahead with water, sanitation and hygiene programs, but much of the effort and dollars have not gone to benefit the poor.” She concludes by recommending several steps USAID could take “to spur concerted targeting” (2/9).
Programs, Funding & Financing
Donor Fatigue, Funding Cutbacks Could Mean Another 50 Years Of AIDS Epidemic, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Says
“With enough money spent in the right way, the world could soon reduce new HIV infections to zero, but global apathy and the financial crisis mean it might take another 50 years to stop the AIDS epidemic, a U.N. expert has said,” AlertNet reports. “At a time when HIV/AIDS efforts face an unprecedented decline in funding, Paul De Lay, deputy executive director of UNAIDS …, called on developing states to take more responsibility for tackling HIV in their own countries rather than relying on international assistance,” the news service notes.
“Grand Challenges Canada [on Thursday] announced 15 grants valued in total at more than $1.5 million awarded to some of Canada’s most creative innovators from across the country in support of their work to improve global health conditions,” according to a press release from the Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health, which hosts Grand Challenges (2/9). “The grants are meant to fund ideas such as a simply designed, inexpensive prosthetic leg and a test for pneumonia that can be done on a cellphone in poor countries with few resources,” CBC News notes (Dakin, 2/9). The press release lists the grantees, briefly describes their innovations and provides a link to access two-minute videos created by each grantee to explain his or her proposal (2/9).
In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at CGD, and Denizhan Duran, a research assistant in global health policy at CGD, describe a paper they wrote in which they try to determine “[w]hich donor provides the ‘best’ health aid, and why [this is] a relevant question.” They write, “To be honest, one working paper later, we still do not have a definite answer to either question,” but “we do know … that health aid is relevant: effective health aid has saved lives, and technologies like oral rehydration salts and vaccination are among the most efficient development interventions money can buy.” The authors say they “rank donors across four dimensions of aid effectiveness: maximizing efficiency, fostering institutions, reducing burden and transparency and learning,” and invite readers to explore their data.
In this study published in Health Affairs this month, researchers investigated the concept known as “additionality,” where donor nations and philanthropic organizations “require that funds provided for a specific health priority such as HIV should supplement domestic spending on that priority.” Using data from Honduras, Rwanda, and Thailand, the authors found that “the three countries increased funding for HIV in response to increased donor funding” and “suggest that it would be preferable for donors and countries to agree on how best to use available domestic and external funds to improve population health, and to develop better means of tracking outcomes, than to try to develop more sophisticated methods to track additionality” (February 2012).
The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “warned [Wednesday] that millions of people in South Sudan are facing worsening hunger and called for urgent action to improve food security through adequate food aid and projects to boost agricultural production,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/8). “[C]onflict, population displacement and high food prices” are threatening food security for 4.7 million in the new nation this year, up from 3.3 million in 2011, according to a report (.pdf) from the agencies, Reuters notes. “Of those, about one million people are severely food insecure, and that number could double if fighting continues and prices keep rising, the report said,” the news agency writes (2/8).
A new report by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) “says Arab countries face a serious food security challenge and that poverty rates are much higher than official numbers suggest,” VOA News reports, adding, “It blames the situation on vulnerability to volatile food prices, natural disasters and water scarcity” (DeCapua, 2/6). The report, titled “Beyond the Arab Awakening: Policies and Investments for Poverty Reduction and Food Security,” offers three key policy recommendations: to “improve data and capacity for evidence-based decision-making,” to “foster growth that enhances food security,” and to “revisit the allocation and efficiency of public spending,” an IFPRI press release states (2/6).
“India’s plan to roll out an ambitious food security program to give cheap foodgrains to the poor and malnourished won’t succeed unless the government revamps a creaky distribution network and boosts other infrastructure such as storage and transport, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar said Wednesday,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“An expanding network of eye clinics has found an innovative way of providing quality, affordable treatment to millions of blind and visually impaired poor people in India,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog reports. The LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a not-for-profit organization that runs a chain of 82 eye care centers and a research institute in India, uses tiered pricing to charge wealthier patients for treatment, allowing the group to provide free treatment to poorer patients.
Matt Fisher, a research assistant at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, summarizes the ongoing debate in Congress over needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs) in this post on the SmartGlobalHealth.org blog. He presents a history of NSEPs and notes, “President Obama recently signed the FY12 omnibus spending bill that, among other things, reinstated the ban on the use of federal funds for needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs); this step reversed the 111th Congress’ 2009 decision to allow federal funds to be used for these programs.” He concludes that despite scientific evidence that NSEPs are an effective public health intervention, “ideological and moral opposition remains,” and therefore, “the issue of federal funding will continue to be actively debated” (2/6).