Friday, July 31st, 2009

USAID Assistant Administrator Testifies before the Senate on Sudan

On Thursday, Earl Gast, the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Africa, reported on the status of humanitarian development in Sudan.  Chief among the topics discussed was the effects of the recent expulsion of 13 international NGO’s from Sudan.  Mr. Gast testified that over half of the USAID funded programs in Darfur closed as a result of the expulsion, though he states that they have since been able to temporarily close many of the gaps in aid.  He mentioned successes in the establishment of the Government of Southern Sudan, but noted that it still had issues of state capacity and potential problems with democratic legitimacy.

Rural Philanthropy Comes into Focus

The Wall Street Journal published an article discussing the need for a charitable focus on alleviating rural poverty.  The Council on Foundations held a three day conference on rural philanthropy earlier this month, and its president, Steve Gunderson, praised Obama’s understanding of philanthropic culture and decision to fund rural initiatives through the bailout package.  Currently, only 6.8% of grants from the top 1000 foundations go to rural America, where 28% of the population lives in poverty.

Study Says UN Children’s Program Did Not Work

A recent study of the UN’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Program, as implemented in Bangladesh, showed that the project had little effect on the health of poor children.  The study found that the program did improve the skill level of health care workers through training and increased breast feeding rates, which reduced instances of stunted growth.  In areas of the country that did not use the program, however, more children were vaccinated against measles , resulting in similar death rates between regions with and without the UN aid.  The program is now under criticism given its multimillion dollar budget and apparent lack of success.