Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti tests foreign aid and development policy

Less than a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major policy speech (January 6th) promising to elevate "development as a central pillar of American foreign policy" and the swearing in of the new administrator the US Agency for International Development, Dr. Rajiv Shah (January 7th), that policy is being tested in Haiti. They both spoke of creating a new model of "partnership and not patronage" for American development assistance.

US aid and development policy is still under review. Two important reviews of American development policy are now underway. The first is the inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review by officials from USAID and the State Department (co-led by Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter and Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, with assistance from then-acting USAID coordinator Alonzo Fulgham). And the second, the Presidential Study Directive on US Global Development Policy (cannot find the announcement on the White House website) led by the White House (formally co-led by National Security Advisor General Jim Jones and chairman of the National Economic Council Larry Summers) and includes representatives from more than 15 agencies that contribute to the US global development mission.
For China and Taiwan, aid to Haiti remains one of patronage. Haiti is one of the few countries that still recognizes Taipei as the official China. Both Taipei and Beijing have sent rescue and medical teams for disaster relief. Taipei has pledged $5 million in aid, while Beijing $4.4 million. Eight Chinese UN police officers were killed in the earthquake. As APP member and Taiwan scholar Shelley Rigger of North Carolina's Davidson College observed, "What's really interesting here is that China apparently is providing Haiti with assistance without making any demands regarding Haiti's relationship with Taiwan."

President Ma Ying-jeou is scheduled to depart Taipei January 25th for Honduras via San Francisco to attend the January 27th inauguration of Honduran President-elect Portfirio Lobo Sosa. Following his Honduras visit, he will travel to the Dominican Republic for a brief stopover, during which he will deliver a speech expressing Taiwan's condolences for the Haitian quake victims and announcing the country's aid programs for Haiti.

One of the new intellectual trends driving the reevaluation of aid are efforts at "metrics" or measures of success. Dara in the United Kingdom publishes annually its Humanitarian Response Index. Created in 2007, the HRI is measures the individual performance of the top humanitarian donors. The index ranks the performance of the 22 donor countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee plus the European Commission in funding and supporting humanitarian action. For 2009, Norway was ranked number 1, the US 14, Australia 10, New Zealand 11, and Japan 19.

The Center for Global Development sponsors the Commitment to Development Index. The index rates 22 rich countries on how much they help poor countries build prosperity, good government, and security. For 2009, Sweden had the highest score of 7, the United States 4.9, Australia 5.6, New Zealand 5.8, South Korea 2.8, and Japan 3.1.

For further research on the reevaluation of American foreign aid see these organizations: Modernizing Foreign Assistance, Center for Global Development, and Brookings' Wolfensohn Center for Development.

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