Sunday, 30 August 2015


President Edgar Lungu has declared Kalumbila area in Solwezi west as a district in view of the massive economic and social development taking place there.

President Lungu said government would like to make Kalumbila a model district that would have high standards of cleanliness and hygiene.

“This is the kind of investment one is looking for, for the people of Zambia and as it were we have already made a decision that this place, which is configured as Solwezi west, becomes a district and be a model town.

“ So from now on this will become Kalumbila district,” President Lungu told journalists after touring Kalumbila mine and visiting the new Kalumbila town in Solwezi west today.

He said government would want to use Kalumbila as a model of planned development which Zambians crave for.

The President said the new Kalumbila District should have its own council through which people will set their own rules and standards.

The Kalumbila town is clean as there is no littering and President Lungu has since warned people that would want to go and live in that area not to take ‘ their bad habits ‘ of throwing litre anyhow.

“You can see that everything is orderly. For me this is going to be a model town, Kalumbila district,” he declared as the local people that included former UPND Vice President Richard Kapita, applauded in affirmative.

President Lungu has further declared Mushindamo area in Solwezi east as a district also saying the people of this area should emulate Kalumbila in terms of development.

And President Liungu said he will ‘walk the talk’ by doing what he promises the people of Zambia and investors.

He said he would not politick but implement what he promises the citizens of Zambia.

“Yes they can count on me. As long as I remain in this seat I want do the right thing instead of just politicking,” he said.

The Head of State said he wants to be one of the few people would in future show to the Zambian people that, “this is what I told you and I have done it”.

Meanwhile, President Lungu has pledged to do his best in keeping the country’s economic stability buoyant despite the challenges faced in the world.

“Right now we are grappling with the global meltdown from China, the poor prices of copper and so forth but we have to face the challenge, 'bite the bullet’, and move on,” he said.

The President said he would not blame anyone for the challenges which Zambia is facing but will face the problems head one.

Earlier, President Lungu officially opened the new US$2.1 billion Sentinel Copper Mine at Trident Project at Kalumbila mine in North-western province.

The President first unveiled a copper plaque to indicate the official opening of the Sentinel Copper Mine and then pressed a ‘start control button’ to roll the Train 2 SAG mill at the milling platform.

A SAG mill crashed the copper ore into smaller segments.

The Sentinel Copper mine has been constructed by First Quantum Mine since 2012 and once fully operational next year, the company will employ over 3,000 people.
Of the 3,064 jobs that will be created, 1,788 will be direct jobs while 1,276 will be locally based contractor personnel.

And First Quantum Mine Assistant General Manager Tristan Pascall said that his company would remain committed to developing the country and creating opportunities for Zambians.

President Lungu was accompanied by Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Justice Ngosa Simbyakula, Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Joseph Katema, Minister of Education Michael Kiangu and Patriotic Front Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri.

The President, who will have a night stop in Solwezi, will tomorrow travel to Zambezi for the Likumbi Lya Mize traditional ceremony of the Luvale people and then return to Lusaka.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


Schoolgirls in West Bengal, India. Positioning girls to realize their
land rights as women could hold the key to eradicating child marriage.
When I was 17 years old and getting ready to go to university, the majority of Indian girls my age were preparing for an entirely different event — their marriages. Even now, three decades later, most girls in rural India are pulled out of school and married, quite often against their wishes, before they are old enough to vote.

Such early marriages are a tragedy not just for these girls but for society as a whole. They are a stumbling block in India’s development. It is widely accepted that child marriage has a negative impact on young mothers and their children, leaves girls financially and socially disempowered, and vulnerable to child labor, trafficking and other forms of exploitation. In fact child marriages and low education levels perpetuate generational cycles of ill health, illiteracy and poverty.
Too often child marriage has been dismissed as intractable. Too often governments around the world have limited their role to merely outlawing the practice without addressing the attitudes that underlie it. And too often, the development community has dealt with this issue by focusing solely on girls’ short-term vulnerabilities.
Legal sanctions are not adequate to deal with what is essentially a socially endorsed act of discrimination against the girl child. Eradicating child marriage needs solutions that address the immediate needs and vulnerabilities of girls and also have the potential of influencing their lives in the long term.
My state, West Bengal, has two promising programs I’m eager to share: the first is Kanyashree Prakalpa, an initiative of the state, and the other is a scheme for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, which is commonly referred to as SABLA.
In October 2013, the government of West Bengal launched Kanyashree Prakalpa, a conditional cash transfer scheme that provides every indigent female student between the ages of 13 and 18 with an annual scholarship, and a one-time grant of 25,000 rupees ($400) on her 18th birthday. The stipulation being, of course, that she be unmarried at the time of receiving the benefits.
So far almost 3 million girls have enrolled in Kanyashree Prakalpa. They feel enormously enabled — it is not just the prospect of receiving money that excites them, but that they receive it in bank accounts that are opened in their names. It has put on hold their parents’ quest for a suitable groom. Most important, it has given them the opportunity to start a new dialogue with their parents, a dialogue in which they dare to speak of their future identities forged through continued education and professional training, identities which may — or may not — include marriage.
SABLA, on the other hand, is implemented in Cooch Behar, a district in West Bengal, in partnership with the nonprofit land rights organization Landesa, is designed with the immediate imperative of meeting adolescent girls’ nutritional needs and ensuring that they stay in school, with an eye on the long-term objectives of ensuring that they know and experience their rights — especially their rights to land.
Why land rights?
Because we know that like educating girls, strengthening women’s right to land has a strong ripple effect. It can help us meet a host of developmental challenges, from nutrition (children whose mothers have secure rights to land are less likely to be malnourished) to poverty (women with secure rights to land have higher savings rates). Positioning these girls to enjoy land rights when they are adults will give them a resource they need to better care for their families over the long term.
Under the project, workers in West Bengal Anganwadis — government-sponsored centers providing maternal and child care — handle groups of girls who learn about their right to attend school, to not be married before 18 and to assets, such as land. The girls also learn how to use their parents’ small homestead plots to grow vegetables, some of which they sell and some of which are used to supplement the family’s meals. By demonstrating their capabilities beyond what their parents expect of them, they gain some leverage within the family at a critical time in their lives.
Thus far, more than 40,000 girls in 1,000 rural villages of Cooch Behar have participated in the project and the impact has been remarkable. A rigorous evaluation has found that participating girls are more likely to stay in school, more likely to have an asset in their own name and less likely to be a child bride. The project is being scaled to reach 1 million girls over the next three years.
I was fortunate to meet one of these girls. Monika Barman, the subject of a documentary film about this project, told me about how she was making use of every free space in her home, growing mushrooms under her bed, gourds on the rooftop and leafy greens on a couple of small plots beside the house. Her garden was providing her family with nutritious vegetables and she sells the excess produce to pay for tuition. The 17 year old, who dropped out of school when she was 14, wants to enroll again and finish her studies — with some help from Kanyashree Prakalpa, of course.
Here are five guiding principles we see running these two programs that work to change girls’ lives.
1. Look for scalable solutions. We can’t address child marriage one child at a time. There are vehicles for addressing this issue community by community. Consider existing structural levers, including laws and policies, which can be co-opted to deliver information and benefits to girls and their families.
2. Look to build on existing government programs. There is no partner that has a better reach than the government.
3. Address both short-term vulnerabilities and long-term needs. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to shepherd the girls through this vulnerable period not just to leave them to marry on the other side at a higher age, but to ensure they are better positioned when they do marry.
4. This is a cross-cutting problem. Focus on developing cross-cutting solutions. In doing so, you’ll ensure a ripple effect.
5. Last and most important, education is key. I mean education in two ways: educating girls about their rights and about their abilities, and ensuring girls stay in school to complete their formal education.

Evidence shows that educating a girl brings better benefits not only to her, but also to her children, her family, community and society. We can and must keep girls in school, bring out-of-school girls back into the classroom and build a better future for them and for India.

Friday, 14 August 2015


The Federal Council is strengthening Switzerland's commitment to UN Women, the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, and to IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The aim is to contribute even more effectively in future to improving both the situation of disadvantaged women and girls, and global food security. To this end, Switzerland is raising its general annual contributions to UN Women to CHF 16 million for 2015-2017, and to IFAD to CHF 15 million for the 2016-2018 period.

UN Women champions gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls around the world, and is committed to eliminating discrimination. Meanwhile, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) supports poor rural populations in improving food security and the quality of their food, raising their incomes, and strengthening their resilience. Both institutions work with other United Nations organisations, governments, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector. They are both also priority partner organisations for Swiss development cooperation at the multilateral level. Their fields of activity are consistent with the concerns and priorities of Swiss development cooperation, as set out in the Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation for 2013–2016. These concerns and priorities remain in place for the coming 2017–2020 dispatch period.

UN Women's priorities include the economic empowerment of disadvantaged women, giving women a greater voice, putting gender equality into practice in programme and budget planning, preventing and ending violence against women and girls especially in conflict situations, and further advancing standards, policies and laws on gender equality. IFAD's focus is on integrating poor rural communities into value chains on the basis of integrative business models and strategic partnerships with major private-sector investors, on improving agricultural production methods and improving service efficiency, and on adaptation to climate change and combating its causes.

Following today's decision, the Federal Council will grant UN Women CHF 16 million annually between 2015 and 2017, and IFAD CHF 15 million a year for the 2016–2018 period. The corresponding figure for UN Women was CHF 14 million in 2014, and CHF 12 million in each of 2013 and 2012. IFAD received CHF 38.5 million in support for the full 2013–2015 period. With this commitment, Switzerland is helping to address global challenges, while at the same time defending its own economic and foreign policy interests, by reducing injustices and poverty, and thus conflict. Furthermore, these contributions allow Switzerland to continue to have a significant say in the policies and strategies of the two organisations.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Africa has achieved a year without any new cases of wild polio for the first time, but experts warn that violent insurgencies could yet prove their “achilles heel” in finally eradicating the disease.
A health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Nigeria
The poliomyelitis virus attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. No cases have been identified in Africa since 11 August last year in the Hobyo district of Mudug province in Somalia, meaning that the continent is two years away from being certified polio-free.
But both Somalia and Nigeria, which also saw its last polio case in 2014, are battling Islamist militant groups – al-Shabaab and Boko Haram respectively – raising fears that vaccines will not reach children displaced by conflict.
“I just hope Boko Haram will not be the achilles heel of our work,” said Oyewale Tomori, professor of virology at the Nigerian Academy of Science, who has dedicated four decades of his life to polio research. “Unless we get rid of the insurgency, we cannot be sure we will eradicate polio.”
In Nigeria there is a target cohort of 5 million to 6 million children each year, he added, and vaccines must reach 90%-95% of them to prevent polio recurring. “Getting vaccines to displaced people will be crucial,” said Tomori.
Boko Haram’s bid to carve out an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria has cost tens of thousands of lives. The group lost territory this year but showed its sustained ability to carry out bombings and targeted killings. Similarly, al-Shabaab, while suffering military setbacks, continues to strike in Somalia.
Despite the turmoil, Nigeria could soon be removed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) from the list of countries where polio is endemic. As recently as 2012 the country had more than half of all the world’s cases, but numbers fell by 92% between 2013 and 2014. Somalia suffered 194 cases of polio in 2013, most of them children, but this was cut to just five in 2014, all in the north-east region of Puntland.
Africa’s progress intensifies pressure for action in the only two other polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there have been 28 and six cases respectively so far this year. Global health experts hope that by 2018 polio will become the second human infectious disease, after smallpox, to be wiped out.
The Gates Foundation and Rotary International are among the biggest donors to polio eradication. Carol Pandak, director of Rotary’s global PolioPlus programme, which has contributed $688.5m in Africa, said: “Africa’s milestone of one year without a case of paralysis caused by wild poliovirus is an unprecedented and important advancement in the 30-year, worldwide effort to end polio.
 “However, it is too soon to celebrate. We need to keep polio eradication a high priority – immunisation campaigns and high quality surveillance activities must continue throughout Africa, as does improvement in routine immunisation, to ensure that the virus does not return.”
Nigeria had struggled to contain polio since some northern states imposed a year-long boycott of the vaccine in 2003. Some state governors and religious leaders in the predominantly Islamic north alleged that the vaccines were contaminated by western powers to spread sterility and HIV and Aids among Muslims.
But in 2009 traditional leaders across the country agreed to back immunisation campaigns and encourage parents to have their children vaccinated. The government also set up emergency operations centres to coordinate vaccination campaigns and reach children in previously inaccessible areas.
Tomori reflected: “We finally got our act together after so many years. We had many obstacles at leadership level and at community level. We realised we couldn’t reach the community with vaccines without the traditional leaders. Nigeria used to be the main problem. Now there is hope for Africa. We have to make sure polio does not come back.”

Polio often spreads among young children and in areas with poor sanitation, but since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988, there has been a reduction in cases worldwide of more than 99%. At that time the disease was endemic in 125 countries and caused paralysis in nearly 1,000 children a day.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Staff, patients and visitors at Pokhara Regional Hospital, Nepa
Recent crises from the earthquake in Nepal to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa have been wake-up calls: too many primary health care systems are under-resourced and fragmented, leaving countries unprepared to reach everyone with needed health services. This is true when disasters strike, and it’s also true in times of relative calm.
Without functional primary health care systems that people trust, critical health services including prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, management of chronic conditions and access to family planning are often inadequate or non-existent. This fuels a daily crisis that is for the most part avoidable: In 2013, of the approximately 17,000 children under 5 who died every day, most died from causes that could have been treated and prevented through a strong primary health care system.
A number of countries are making progress building high-performing primary health care systems and providing instructive models. For instance, Rwanda has integrated services for a range of community health needs including malaria, pneumonia, family planning, and HIV and AIDS into its primary health care system as a core part of the country’s health reforms. This approach has helped Rwanda come close to universal health coverage for its citizens.
Still, a major stumbling block to improving primary health care is the availability of specific and relevant information to guide improvements. Countries that want to improve their primary health care systems often do not know in what ways their systems are getting better or worse and most importantly, why.
One of the most basic indicators of the health of primary care systems is whether providers are present and appropriately trained. Yet systematic data on provider absence rates and the accuracy of their diagnoses are available for only a handful of low- and middle-income countries and where available, they are often not comparable. From the data we do have, it is clear that in many countries, provider absence rates are high and, when present, diagnostic accuracy rates are low factors contributing to far too many preventable deaths.
Through better measurement of what drives strong primary health care systems, there is tremendous opportunity to have a major impact on health. The recent Millennium Development Goals report made clear that the effective collection, dissemination and use of data was key to achieving global health targets. In Mexico, for example, data on the number of births attended by health professionals revealed stark inequalities between indigenous and nonindigenous populations, which led to new efforts to reduce inequities and save lives.
This fall, the United Nations is expected to ratify a bold new agenda for sustainable development for the next 15 years. For global health, the success or failure of this important agenda will depend in large part on measuring and improving primary health care. It is very difficult for countries to make sustainable gains in health including reaching global goals such as universal health coverage without strengthening access to and delivery of essential care in communities.

Tracking and measuring what’s working with primary health care systems will guide decisions about meaningful improvements at all levels of the health system from doctor-patient interactions to district planning to national health strategies. And when countries know how to improve care, they can ensure that giving a mother and her child a healthier future isn’t a guess, but a guarantee.

Saturday, 8 August 2015


A nurse reviews a patient’s chart at a hospital in Preah Vihear, Cambodia. 
With the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development now set in stone, one question has come to the fore among the ranks of the global development community: What will be the impact on human development and rights issues of the so-called new financing mechanisms — blended, nongrant and private sector financing — promoted in the Addis agenda?

With the recent launch of the Global Financing Facility in support of the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child initiative as the flagship instrument for the implementation of the #FFD3 action agenda, it is not surprising that stakeholders such as Countdown 2015 Europe — a consortium of 15 nongovernmental organizations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, led by the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Network — are taking a closer look, by conducting in-depth research to assess the impact of these mechanisms on women’s health and rights.
On the sidelines of the recent third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Devex spoke to a number of luminaries to identify ways in which the development community can make private sector and nongrant financing work for health.

1. Only take up a loan for what you plan to own.

“Why would you take up a loan for a house you do not live in?” asked Munyaradzi T. Nkomo, information and communications officer at the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development — known asAfrodad — in an interview with Devex.
Nkomo referred here to the danger of pushing for the use of loans and public-private partnerships without taking into account countries’ — often insufficient — financial management capacities.
But let’s take this thought one step further: If you are given credit for renting a house you will only live in for four or five years, who is going to pay back the loan when it is due in 10 or 20 years’ time?
“Governments often think in terms of election cycles — without looking at the long-term debt sustainability and financial consequences of taking up loans,” explained Bodo Ellmers, senior policy and advocacy officer at the European Network on Debt and Development, or Eurodad.
This is perhaps especially true for sectors such as health and SRHR.
“When deciding on the type of financing to use, it is important to differentiate both by country capacity and sector,” affirmed Degol Mendes, secretary of state at Guinea-Bissau’s Ministry of Finance, who spoke exclusively to Devex. “Social sectors cannot be financed through loans they do not produce sufficient economic returns.”
This argument was nuanced by one representative from the banking and financial services sector, who asserted that while the health sector was perhaps seen as being weak when it came to short-term results and was therefore “de-prioritized for investments by governments and the private sector,” investing in health and education was, in the long run, the “best thing you can do to harness the highest yields for sustained economic growth.”  
That is, of course, provided that reimbursement for related loans is appropriately sequenced to allow for gradual payback.
How can the Global Financing Facility Trust Fund bring down the cost of engaging the private sector in global health? Mark Suzman, president of global policy, advocacy and country programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explains in this exclusive interview.
As argued by Mark Suzman, president of global policy, advocacy and country programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, loans could potentially even increase ownership as they “allow for long-term investments and looking at outcomes instead of two-to-three year outputs.”
However, according to Richard Willis, press officer at the European Investment Bank, this has to be done “in a gradual and appropriate way and in close collaboration with relevant development institutions.”
In conclusion, the aid effectiveness principle of “country ownership,” which has guided the development rhetoric for a number of years, ultimately also needs to be applied to the “new” financing mechanisms: “Own your house and manage your debts” could be an appropriate apothegm — something that can, however, be done by engaging in helpful partnerships.

2. Join forces to minimize risks.

According to the Nigerian proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Indeed, joining forces is essential for investing in women’s and children’s development.
“Take our experience in the agriculture sector,” EIB’s Willis explained. “Agriculture is a challenging sector for long-term investments, but we can work with partners to overcome these challenges — and through adequate partnerships, certain sectors may become bankable that have not been bankable before.”
Speaking exclusively to Devex, Tim Evans, senior director for health, nutrition and population at the World Bank, explained how GFF aims at doing just that by challenging what he sees as a misperception of health being a “nonproductive” or “noninvestable” sector.
“GFF will attract new external support by developing a robust investment case that provides confidence to investors — it will highlight evidence-based, high-impact and cost-effective interventions,” he said.
What is crucial here, Evans said, is the instrument’s openness and flexibility to a wide range of innovative partnerships to seek the most suitable combination for each partner country. The World Bank’s AAA credit rating, for example, could be used to issue a bond that would attract private investors toward contributing to large-scale health investments. Supporting mHealth PPPs would be another option, especially those applications targeting women’s and children’s health.
Although GFF has only just launched, some organizations are already thinking of how to best complement it through other innovative instruments.
The Health Credit Exchange, an innovative financing tool launched during #FFD3 by GBCHealth, Total Impact Advisers and the MDG Health Alliance, aims at doing exactly that. Established as a performance-based pooled funding mechanism, HCX aims to attract private capital toward financing high-impact health projects, such as those targeted by GFF.
As explained by Gary Cohen, acting CEO at GBCHealth, HCX could potentially help buy down the repayment obligations of governments that take up a GFF loan. In this way the fund could contribute to mitigating the risks associated with taking up loans for social sectors.
In essence, according to Eurodad’s Ellmers, it is about smart and appropriate risk-sharing between the private and public sectors.
“It can’t be that the public sector starts bearing all the risks of private operations when working with corporations that are perfectly able to bear these risks themselves,” he said.

3. Prioritize win-win PPPs.

Many in the global development community are talking about using official development assistance to leverage private sector finance — but how do we avoid “wasting” scarce ODA resources to invest in the for-profit sector?
A number of #FFD3 participants told Devex that the most cost-effective scenario is to prioritize those initiatives that have a natural “win-win” outcome for both sides, where no major additional ODA injections are needed.
GBCHealth studies show that for companies with a large female customer base, which employ a largely female workforce or operate in areas where the status of women is the underlying cause of poor health and maternal deaths, investments in women’s empowerment and reproductive and maternal health can have a significant impact.
This was confirmed by an Ethiopian woman entrepreneur visited by Devex on the fringes of the #FFD3 conference in Addis: With a high number of female employees, Genet Kebede, founder of small textile company Paradise Fashion, quickly recognized that caring for her employees’ sexual and reproductive health and education needs was key to avoiding multiple long-term absences due to maternity leave and child care. She made family planning education part of the work-related training given to her staff and is now looking into the possibility of providing family planning supplies for free within the premises of her company.
And what is the role of ODA here? It could simply be about helping these women-run SMEs connect with the right partners to ease their access to both domestic as well as international finance and markets.
This is what the International Trade Center has been doing in close collaboration with the Ethiopian government for local businesswomen, explained Arancha Gonz├ílez, ITC’s executive director. Amelza Yazew, founder of baby garments company Little Gabies and an ITC beneficiary told Devex that ITC had enabled her to connect with Mongolian entrepreneurs, a collaboration which resulted in a high-quality, blended cotton-Kashmir product that is proving to be very popular on the U.S. market.
And as highlighted by a number of other Devex interviewees, it is also possible to find win-win scenarios in other types of industries too — although it may require thinking outside the box.
The innovative aspect of the Health Credit Exchange, for example, is the cost-effective way it plans to work with the private sector. Selected high-impact health interventions will be assigned a certain number of “exchange credits” based on the specific characteristics of the health interventions. Companies invest by purchasing credits and directing them towards interventions that align with their areas of interest.
“The intent is to establish these credits as a private sector social financing instrument that will be well recognized by governments and international agencies overseeing the implementation of health goals, as reflected in the SDGs,” said GBCHealth’s Cohen, adding that organizations involved in the initiative are exploring potential methods to incentivize the credits purchased by companies — in areas such as regulatory or tax benefits — to provide further motivation for companies to invest in HCX.

4. Set clear rules for healthy investments.

“What is often forgotten when it comes to PPPs, is the word ‘public,’” Afrodad’s Nkomo told Devex.
Indeed, the primary role a government must take in the context of PPPs is that of a regulator. Even the private sector itself is asking for that in the name of investment security.
“In any sector there needs to be clarity about the rules for investing,” said one private sector representative during an #FFD3 side event on impact investments. “Otherwise, the project may be deemed too risky.”
As highlighted by nonprofit organizations, such as Eurodad and Afrodad, a number of international frameworks and principles have already been established to help regulate the so-called new financing methods for development. Among others, these include the U.N. principles on responsible sovereign lending and borrowing, the U.N. principles on responsible investments, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development principles for public governance of public-private partnerships.
The next step is to make these frameworks binding, translating them into national laws and policies. Establishing an open, transparent and participatory U.N.led process for oversight, monitoring and review of international PPPs is another recommendation coming from CSO platforms such as the FFD women’s group.

5. Involve communities and civil society for local buy-in.

Not only governments, but also communities need to be won over to make a project work.
According to Afrodad’s Nkomo, there are numerous examples of private sector initiatives in Africa, especially in the extractives industry, which have failed due to a rejection and blockage from local communities. In other cases, communities successfully pushed for certain conditions to be attached to companies’ activities, for example the building of local technical capacities.
One key ask of the CSO community represented in Addis was that community-level impact assessments should be carried out prior to engaging in any major PPPs. Prior and informed consent by affected communities should be sought, they said, especially for those PPPs aimed at delivering or affecting what is considered to be a public good, such as health, for example.

6. Identify high-impact innovations.

What products and services benefiting women’s health are worth investing in? And which are likely to reach the markets, are scalable and will have the highest impact?
Showing value for money is particularly important when it comes to investing in social sectors.
“The problem is not so much on the supply side, but on the demand side,” said one private sector participant at a #FFD3 side event on impact financing. “How can we find investable social projects?”
One possible answer to this question was provided by the recent Reimagining Global Health report, launched by the newly created Innovation Countdown 2030 initiative. It highlights 30 lifesaving health innovations selected by external health experts for their potential to transform global health by 2030. Accessibility, affordability and scalability were key criteria for selecting the best innovations from more than 500 entries submitted.
Striking examples included a low-cost uterine balloon tamponade kit, suitable for use in remote areas that could reduce deaths due to postpartum hemorrhage by 11 percent and thus potentially save 169,000 maternal lives by 2030; and in the area of reproductive health, a number of long-lasting, low-cost and easy-to-use contraceptives were presented that may be self-administered by women, outside health care settings.

Now that the dust has settled in Addis and the global development community knows who should set the rules of the game, who are its key players, as well as how much and and what to bet on going forward, there is one logical next step: to put the pieces of the puzzle together to make markets work for health and health work for markets.

Friday, 7 August 2015


In the same week U.S. presidential candidates take aim at each other for the first time on the debate stage, negotiators from 193 U.N. member states reached consensus on the sustainable development agenda that world leaders will meet to adopt at September’s U.N. General Assembly in New York.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. President Barack Obama
meet on Aug. 4 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C
After more than two years of negotiation and deliberation, the post-2015 agenda — covering 17 sustainable development goals and 169 individual indicators — is unabashedly ambitious. The first goal, for example, is “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” The second? “End hunger.”
The sustainable development agenda is something else too: universal. It is meant to apply to developing and developed countries alike. And with so much ambition on the table, the post-2015 agenda could raise some tricky questions about living standards, environmental sustainability, and what exactly rich countries like the United States are agreeing to do over the next 15 years.
Any discussion of global goals, especially those determined and championed by the United Nations, risks raising hackles within America’s polarized political atmosphere. It’s worth wondering whether anxieties about global governance and national sovereignty might throw a wrench in the gears of U.S. support for the SDG launch and implementation process.
Indicators associated with goal 10, which deals with reducing inequality, venture into territory that is full of political minefields in the U.S. and other rich countries. Target 10.7, for example, directs signatories to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”
One of the education targets is to “ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.” According to the Council on Foreign Relations, preschool enrollment rates in the United States have dropped to around 69 percent, and vary widely according to socio-economic status.
At the International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, U.S. Treasury Sec. Jack Lew responded to a question from Devex about whether the United States would commit to implementing the SDGs at home.
“I think that there’s no comparison between the standard of living in the United States and the standard of living in many developing countries. So I think to treat them as if they’re comparable doesn’t reflect reality,” Lew told Devex at a small news briefing on the sidelines of the conference.
The secretary listed a number of areas where the administration has championed programs to lift Americans out of poverty and expand the middle class: raising the minimum wage, and jobs and skills training programs, for example.
“We’re seeing incomes rise again, and we have a safety net in place that protects people from the worst ravages of poverty, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare the United States to a developing country,” Lew said.
A U.S. government official, who wished to remain anonymous to avoid a lengthy clearance process, told Devex the SDGs are meant to be aspirational for all countries, and that it is unlikely any country, after a thorough evaluation of national performance against the indicators, will meet all of the goals, including the United States.
In response to a question about whether the U.S. would put in place a plan to achieve the SDGs, the official said the administration would likely do an assessment when the goals are finalized, but that poverty in developing countries and poverty in the United States do not present a fair comparison.
Extreme poverty is notoriously difficult — and contentious — to measure, especially when you venture beyond a set of developing countries with relatively harmonized data. Some have attempted to measure the prevalence of extreme poverty in rich countries though, including the United States. An article in Stanford University’s Pathways magazine, “The Rise of Extreme Poverty in the United States,” concluded that, among other things, “1.17 million children were in extreme poverty in mid-2011 under our most conservative measure.”
Subsequent findings from the Brookings Institution challenged that report, noting that “if we used the exact same criteria to measure poverty in the U.S. as is used by the World Bank to obtain official poverty estimates for the developing world, we would conclude that no one in the U.S. falls under the $2 threshold,” according to the paper’s co-authors, Laurence Chandy and Cory Smith. One main reason being that extreme poverty in the U.S. is often a temporary condition, “accounted for by life events such as moving between jobs that are not necessarily indications of diminished welfare,” they write.
It is likely more indices will emerge that do harmonize poverty rates and other standard of living measures across developed and developing countries as the post-2015 process unfolds. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative is leading an effort to do exactly that with its Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, a data set that expands standard of living measures beyond gross domestic product to include things like education, health and “lived environment” indicators.
This year OPHI expanded its index to include 101 countries, or 75 percent of the world’s population. It may be that soon poverty in the United States and poverty in developing countries will, quite literally, be comparable.
For the most part, the SDGs haven’t attracted much political vitriol from those who question U.S. involvement in a globally convened development agenda. In fact, supporters have been fighting to get them noticed at all by the general public. But with a U.S. presidential campaign gearing up and candidates grasping for ways to separate themselves from a historically crowded field, what one Fox News pundit described as the U.N.’s “multitrillion-dollar ... bid to reshape the planet along largely socialist or progressive lines” could present easy prey for skeptics of multilateralism, eager to land a political punch against the Obama administration.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with U.S. President Barack Obama a day after the latter’s clean power announcement, and told him: “This is a top priority now as we have successfully agreed on a sustainable development agenda with a set of 17 sustainable development goals. This is hugely ambitious and encouraging news. … On all these matters, we really count on your strong support.”
Some experts advocate for a more nuanced understanding of what it means for an agenda to be “universal” in the 21st century, and Obama’s action on climate change is illustrative of what they have in mind. While each country might face unique challenges in aspiring to achieve the goals at home, “universality” implies a recognition that the SDGs provide a framework for tackling problems that require global cooperation.
Issues of poverty, environmental change, migration and health are globally interdependent. Solving them requires attention to systemic challenges that are beyond any single country’s capacity to solve, Nancy Birdsall, founding president at the Center for Global Development, told Devex.
“The fact that the Treasury secretary [attended the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa] … suggests a little bit more emphasis on seeing the SDGs as part of a global system,” Birdsall said, noting that it was not the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator leading the delegation, but a high-ranking cabinet official with domestic policy clout.
“On the other hand, at the sort of working level in the U.S. government the SDGs are still thought of as mostly about where can we find more money for aid,” she added. “It’s not something that’s about money. It’s about the U.S. taking leadership on fixing the global system in the direction of development and shared prosperity and sustainable growth.”
Birdsall pointed to global public goods like clean energy technology, where research, development and market building by the U.S. could have a profound impact on the availability of new technologies in the developing world.
“The U.S. has huge assets … and domestic investment in clean energy is really very low, and it’s an area where domestic investment ... could generate new technologies or speed up the rate at which existing renewables become affordable … in other countries,” Birdsall said.
CGD has produced a new series of policy recommendations for the next administration to consider, but the think tank chief remains skeptical that questions about universality — and what it implies about U.S. obligations toward a global agenda — will feature prominently on any of the debate stages this year.
“I think it would be really healthy if issues of global governance came up,” Birdsall told Devex.
The rise of new actors like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank, both of them convened and created as alternatives to the Western-led Bretton Woods institutions, lend a sense of urgency to discussions about the role the United States is — or should be — playing in helping to finance and to achieve the SDGs.

But for now — for better or for worse — most U.S. candidates appear content to grapple with each other, not yet with the implications of a global sustainable development agenda they might be expected to implement.