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Opinions: U.S. Food Aid; MDGs; Contraceptive Access, Technology; U.S. AIDS Funding; Foreign Assistance Reform

Food Aid Hindered Progress Of Democracy In Africa

“The best way to help the millions of hungry people in countries that receive food aid get rid of their corrupt and incompetent rulers – and to ensure that their children will never go hungry in future — is to starve them now. That will turn them into raging, unstoppable anti-government regime changers,” writes Nation Media Group Executive Editor Charles Onyango-Obbo in an East African opinion piece.

Though leaders can ignore potholes and other issues, “[t]here is nothing African governments fear like hungry masses … as soon as people take to the streets to protest increases in food prices, as we saw a few days ago in Mozambique, the state will quickly back down. Few strongman regimes in Africa have survived hunger-fuelled upheavals. It stands to reason, then, that the biggest problem is not that food aid creates dependence. Rather, that it has delayed – even undermined – the progress of democracy,” the author writes. The article also looks at the success of governments with strong agricultural policies and President Barack Obama’s “new approach” to empower countries to “meet their own food needs” (9/27).

Denver Post Examines Progress, Gaps To Meeting MDGs

A Denver Post opinion piece, written by University of Denver Professor Ved Nanda, examines “considerable progress, but sizeable gaps” that persist in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “Trends show that the numbers of the world’s desperately poor will be cut to 17 percent from 35 percent,” and progress has also been made in combating hunger. Maternal and infant mortality rates have also dropped globally but both still fall “well short of the goals set,” the author writes.

Nanda also addresses funding for the MDGs: “The G8 group had committed to spend 0.7 percent of GDP on overseas development assistance, but the actual aid given is 0.31 percent. The U.S. level is only 0.2 percent.” She concludes: “Success in reaching the Millennium Development Goals depends upon poor countries’ giving priority to education, medical care, and empowerment of women. As Obama said, ‘Progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including . . . Americans'” (9/25).

Make Access To Contraceptives A ‘Priority’ Around The World

“Over the next decade, some astonishing new technologies will spread to fight global poverty. They’re called contraceptives,” writes Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times opinion piece. Kristof discusses the history of contraception and the “particularly dire” situation “in poor countries, where some 215 million women don’t want to get pregnant yet can’t get their hands on modern contraceptives, according to United Nations figures.”

The article examines new contraceptive technologies, including a vaginal ring that lasts for one year and is “likely to be cheap,” and technologies targeted toward men. “Family planning has long been a missing – and underfunded – link in the effort to overcome global poverty. Half a century after the pill, it’s time to make it a priority and treat it as a basic human right for men and women alike around the world,” Kristof concludes (9/25).

Obama Administration Needs To Boost HIV/AIDS Funding

“Unless the United States switches course and dramatically increases its funding for the global fight against AIDS, we could lose millions of lives and a generation of progress. Many AIDS advocates and I have a sinking feeling the HIV/AIDS strategy in the Obama White House is not getting significant senior-level attention,” Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, writes in a NJToday.net opinion piece.

The article examines President Obama’s pledges to increase funding for PEPFAR and the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “As it now stands, PEPFAR likely will receive only a nominal increase next year,” and “since Obama came into office, U.S. donations to the Global Fund have flat-lined,” the author writes. Zeitz calls on Obama to “prove to his allies, detractors and the world community that AIDS funding is still a priority in America” and “revise the White House’s position” on support for AIDS’ initiatives (9/23).

Foreign Assistance Reform ‘Easier Said Than Done’

In response to President Obama’s announcement of a “long-delayed review of America’s global development policy” at the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit, John Norris, the executive director of the Center for American Progress’ Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative, writes in a Foreign Policy Argument piece: “The good news is that Obama gets it. The bad news is that all of this is much easier said than done.” The author writes that “there is little to argue with” Obama’s plan, “except for the fact that it will need some luck – and a lot of vigilance – to actually work.”

The article examines “five main points of tension that could make the bright ideas in the new strategy highly difficult to realize”: “Rhetoric versus Reality,” division of labor, PEPFAR being “at odds” with Obama’s global health strategy, economic growth and “Solving the Crisis du Jour.” The author concludes: “Obama is to be congratulated for taking on the tricky business of global development in a credible and thoughtful manner. But after the policy review begins the hard part” (9/23).

Obama’s Global Poverty Strategy Shows ‘Leadership In Lifting Up The World’s Poor’

A Christian Science Monitor editorial looks at “Obama’s new tack on global poverty,” writing that his recent U.N. speeches and new global development plan “show a strong pitch for leadership in lifting up the world’s poor.”

Obama “smartly ties support of entrepreneurs to human rights, citing the empowerment of the individual to keep governments in check” and “often cited the role of entrepreneurs and a need for government to support opportunities for business,” the authors write. The editorial concludes, “Partnering with poor nations to boost trade and investment – and thus reduce hunger and poverty – is the best security that the U.S. can buy” (9/23).