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Opinions: MDGs; Obama’s Development Policy; PEPFAR In Uganda

MDGs Help And Hurt

In a SciDev.Net editorial, David Dickson, director of SciDev.Net, examines progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, highlighting their usefulness as well as their shortcomings. “The value of the MDGs lies in the way they have acted as both a carrot and a stick to focus the efforts of both development agencies and governments of developing countries,” according to Dickson, who writes that “the curse of the MDGs is that they focus on relatively short-term, concrete objectives, and lack sufficient ‘buy-in’ from the very countries they are intended to help. As a result, they can undermine the type of long-term commitment to capacity building –particularly in advanced education and research.”

“They can also threaten commitments to strengthening the multidisciplinary skills and research strategies required to prevent the fragmentation of effort. This includes building up a capacity in science communication as a channel for interaction between researchers and policymakers,” he writes before calling for U.N. member states to “sufficiently” account for the MDG shortcomings (10/1).

Implementing Obama’s ‘Bold’ Development Policy

“The most important part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s bold enunciation of a new global development policy at the U.N. last week was his promise to measure the effectiveness of aid by outputs, not inputs,” writes Robert Rotberg in a Global Post opinion piece. Though Obama did not detail how outputs would be calculated, Rotberg writes, “he said firmly, in a first for world leadership, that aid alone is not development.” Rotberg also addresses the new plan’s focus on working with countries that prioritize good governance: “If that means that Washington will now aid only those nations with honest, minimally corrupt, governments who put all of their own people (not just favored ethnic groups) ahead of themselves and their families, the aid business will be revolutionized. But what then happens to American assistance to heavy-handed regimes like Egypt, or to needy countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda with questionable elections? Can Washington really afford to ignore strategic priorities and support only beneficent nations?”

The author also notes that Obama is “keeping USAID under the Department of State, with its director reporting to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” Rotberg calls this “a mistake,” writing that “[w]hen USAID was independent, it functioned robustly. It could project soft power for the United States in ways that were not easily available to ambassadors and embassies” (9/29).

U.S. ‘Cannot’ Be Only Source Of Funding For HIV/AIDS Uganda

“The dramatic growth in the delivery of healthcare services throughout Uganda in recent years is a remarkable accomplishment, one in which the United States, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), plays a key role,” U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier writes in a Daily Monitor commentary. Lanier details the “enormous contribution” PEPFAR makes to Uganda, totaling $280 million per year with the amount set to increase. Lanier also addresses how the need for HIV/AIDS treatment is “rapidly outpacing the ability to deliver them,” adding that “the solution to this crisis requires both short-term and long-term solutions.”

“The U.S. government is not – and cannot – be the only source of funding for Uganda’s HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment efforts. U.S. aid programmes never seek to lead another nation’s response, but to work with host governments to identify opportunities where U.S. support can make a needed contribution. This is an ongoing process,” he writes. Lanier adds that he is “optimistic about Uganda’s potential to address its long-term needs in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” which will include “a renewed commitment from the people of Uganda, the government of Uganda, the Global Fund and other donors” (9/30).

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