Monthly Archives: December 2014

Week Seven: Moyo on Aid


Dambisa Moyo “is a Zambian-born author and international economist who analyses the macroeconomy, foreign aid impact, and global affairs” (Wikpedia) who wrote the book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa. In her book, Moyo “argues that foreign aid has harmed Africa and that it should be phased out” and “offers proposals for developing countries to finance development, instead of relying on foreign aid” (Wikipedia).

Dambisa Moyo

She suggested four alternative sources of funding for Africa that included using international bond markets, spreading microfinance institutions, having a large-scale direct investment in infrastructure policy (similar to China), and encouraging free trade for agricultural products.

As Moyo argues in her book, aid is simply not working. Moyo says on page 27, “Western donors are increasingly looking to anyone for guidance on how best to tackle Africa’s predicament” which refers to the fact that Bono spoke to President George W. Bush about the aid crisis in Africa. She quotes a critic of an aid model as saying, “my voice can’t compete with an electric guitar” meaning that people are more likely to listen to someone famous who they recognize over someone who might have more knowledge and a better understanding of the issue.

Moyo also talks about the vicious cycle of aid. On page 49, she says:

“Foreign aid props up corrupt governments- providing them with freely usable cash. These corrupt governments interfere with the rule of the law, the establishment of transparent civil institutions and the protection of civil liberties, making both domestic and foreign investment in poor countries attractive. Greater opacity and fewer investments reduce economic growth, which leads to fewer job opportunities and increasing poverty levels. In response to growing poverty, donors give more aid, which continues the downward spiral of poverty”.

Below is a video from 2009 where Moyo talks about Dead Aid and talks about if aid is killing Africa.

The Washington Consensus is a term “coined in 1989 by English economist John Williamson to refer to a set of 10 relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the “standard” reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington, D.C.–based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the US Treasury Department” (Wikipedia). There a ten policies that are considered necessary for “first stage policy reform” (WHO).

10 Policies

  • Fiscal discipline – strict criteria for limiting budget deficits
  • Public expenditure priorities – moving them away from subsidies and administration towards previously neglected fields with high economic returns
  • Tax reform – broadening the tax base and cutting marginal tax rates
  • Financial liberalization – interest rates should ideally be market-determined
  • Exchange rates – should be managed to induce rapid growth in non-traditional exports
  • Trade liberalization
  • Increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) – by reducing barriers
  • Privatization – state enterprises should be privatized
  • Deregulation – abolition of regulations that impede the entry of new firms or restrict competition (except in the areas of safety, environment and finance)
  • Secure intellectual property rights (IPR) – without excessive costs and available to the informal sector
  • Reduced role for the state.

Sources: Wikipedia, Youtube, Wikipedia, WHO


Week Six: Exploring the Abbreviations of Aid


This week, I noticed how many abbreviations are used in the discussion about foreign aid, loans, and other types of foreign policies. I wanted to start out by learning what each one stood for and what they meant.


CAP (Consolidated Appeals Process): “an advocacy tool for humanitarian financing” where the target is long-term development

CHAP (Common Humanitarian Action Plan): “outlines humanitarian action in a given country or region. It provides: – Analysis of the context in which humanitarian takes place; – Best, worst, and most likely scenarios; – Analysis of need and a statement of priorities; – Roles and responsibilities, i.e. who does what and where; and – A clear link to longer-term objectives and goals; – A framework for monitoring the strategy and revising it if necessary”

GNI (Gross national income): “the total domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country”

ODA (Official development assistance): “flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients and to multilateral institutions which are:

i.  provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies; and

ii.  each transaction of which:

a)  is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective; and
b)  is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25 per cent (calculated at a rate of discount of 10 per cent)”

USAID (United States Agency for International Development): “the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid”

PCD (Policy Coherence for Development): “an approach and policy tool for integrating the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions of sustainable development at all stages of domestic and international policy making”

MDG (Millennium Development Goals): “eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration”

Liberia and Namibia

In 2007, there was a CHAP for Liberia. It was estimated that a total of $117 million dollars would be needed for humanitarian support in Liberia to help fund “healthcare, safe water and appropriate sanitation, shelter and education” (UNOCH) because these basic rights were still not available to most Liberians.

The images below show the GNI in Liberia, Namibia, and the United States (all graphs from Google).

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Liberia received $571 million in ODA in 2012, with a major portion of the aid coming from the United States and Japan.

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Liberia ODA

In comparison, Namibia received less than half of the net ODA that Liberia received in 2012. Again, a major portion of the aid came from the United States as well as Germany.

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Namibia ODA

According to the USAID government website,  USAID has aid plans in Liberia that focus on Agriculture and Food Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, Economic Growth and Trade, Education, Environment, Global Health, and Working in Crisis and Conflict. For example, the website says, “Liberia’s war years, 1989 to 2003, decimated basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation, electricity, roads, education, and health services – factors that contribute to the spread of disease and premature mortality. GDP per capita is among the lowest in Africa, so people’s ability to pay for health care is extremely limited”. This shows the importance of why improving the health care  in Liberia is so important, especially now with the ebola epidemic.

Namibia has similar plans and goals in place, with the addition of improving water conditions. The USAID Namibia website says:

Namibia and its neighbours, Botswana and Angola, suffer from frequent floods and devastating droughts, and too many people live in abject poverty and have limited access to adequate water and sanitation services.

USAID through its Southern African Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) is addressing these issues by improving the water supply and sanitation services, as well as conserving biodiversity within the Okavango River Basin. This basin supports the livelihoods of more than 880,000 people in Namibia, Angola and Botswana.


Sources: CAP, CHAP, GNI, ODA, USAID, PCD, MDG, UNOCH, Liberia ODA, Namibia ODA, USAID: Liberia,

Week Thirteen: A Safe Environment for Women


Part A

During this class, I always look forward to the times when I can apply the readings from the week’s assignment to my major and future professional goals. That is why I found the article “Why Are So Many Women Dying From Ebola?” by Lauren Wolfe so interesting. Ebola has been a hot topic in the news recently, with new stories being published each day during the peak of its media thunderstorm. The ebola outbreak got serious coverage in the media when the disease reached the United States in late September of this year, causing concern for the possibility that it could spread outside of Africa. Shortly after the first case of ebola came to the United States, links to articles talking about the disease began popping up all over social media. Some of the articles included titles like “Why We Should All Be Afraid of Ebola – A Nurse’s Perspective” or “Ebola- Just a Matter of Time Before It Becomes Airborne”. These articles frustrated me to no end. It seemed like Americans were turning a real epidemic that was happening in Africa into a new epidemic: “fear-bola”.

Fear-bola refers to the irrational fear of Ebola that has rapidly spread across the United States. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, nearly two thirds of Americans are concerned about an epidemic outbreak in the U.S. Another recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that 45% of people are afraid that they or a family member will contract Ebola.

Although there have only been nine documented cases of Ebola in the United States in 2014, resulting in one death, the fear of an Ebola pandemic in this country is widespread. For comparison, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, on average, over 26,000 people died annually in the United States from seasonal influenza, the flu, from 1976 to 2007 (A Place of Hope).

One journalist even described the fear that Americans have for ebola being equivalent to the fear that spread during the height of the HIV/AIDS outbreak in the 1980s (Washington Post Fear-bola). Except there is one major difference: the HIV epidemic was at its highest in the 1980s, where numbers of incidences reached 130,000 but the ebola epidemic has only three known cases in the United States, where only one resulted in death (History of HIV/AIDS in US).

In this clip below from Late Night with Seth Meyers, Meyers jokes about the “fearbola” epidemic”.

What we should be focusing on and worrying about is the fact that most people who are dying from ebola in Africa are mainly women. According to Wolfe, up to 75% of ebola victims are women. Ebola spreads through contact of either bodily fluids or blood of a person who is showing symptoms of the disease. Because women are the primary caregivers in African countries like Liberia, women are usually in the first wave of people to come into contact with the sick. Many epidemics have a gender role, with some disease affecting one sex more than the other. Sometimes men are affected more as seen in the dengue fever epidemic, Wolfe points out but it is hard to predict on a biological level what gender will be affected more by certain diseases because not enough resources are being put into researching gender roles in epidemic and disease outbreaks. If more time and energy was spent on acknowledging that women are being affected by diseases such as ebola because of their role in society, then I think we could come up with a way to stop the disease from spreading.

Part B

In many African societies, it is hard to break the old way of thinking that women cannot be a head-of-household and get an education and work in an office like men do. IEEWEP (Initiative for the Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs Project) is trying to break that mold.

In the video, it explains how funds are being provided by ExxonMobil for women to increase their income and involvement in local businesses. Projects like this are important because they provide a way for women to become self-sufficient. The example of the widowed mother in the video is the perfect testimony as to why it is important for women to be able to provide for themselves and their families and not be solely dependent on men or others in the community.

Sources: A Place of Hope “Fear-bola”, Washington Post Fear-bola, History of HIV/AIDS in US,

Week Twelve: Girl Power


Knowledge is power

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says “Women hold up half the sky”. This was the inspiration for the book turned documentary Half the Sky, which talks about women across the world and how we can turn oppression into opportunity. The movement “focuses on sex trafficking, maternal mortality, sexual violence, microfinance and girls’ education” (Wikipedia) across the world to raise awareness for these issues.  Many of the countries discussed in the book and documentary we have also talked about in class. The video below highlights the documentary and gives the viewer an idea about the purpose of the book.

The documentary features influential women, including Hillary Clinton, Mary Robinson, Dr. Helene Gayle, and celebrities like Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, and America Ferrera.


They all talk about the same thing: the importance of empowering women. Hillary Clinton says, “How we treat women and girls is absolutely essential to who we are as a people” (Youtube) and Dr. Helene Gayle expands by saying empowering women and helping them succeed is “the way that we can bring greater peace and balance in this world” (Youtube).

One of my favorite images from the documentary comes from when Eva Mendes travelled to Sierra Leone and wrote this on the blackboard:

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“Girl power” by Eva Mendes

I feel like this images captures the goal of the Half the Sky movement and highlights the importance of focusing on women as a way to build a brighter future.

The country I was assigned this semester was Liberia so I wanted to focus on that country and explore any policies they had to empower or protect women. In the video below, both women and men discuss the issue of domestic violence in Liberia.

According to this article from, women across the board agreed that a national law was needed “that would criminalize domestic violence and spell out sanctions, including imprisonment” ( Liberia Domestic Violence) and urged President Sirleaf to pass a bill that would criminalize domestic violence because “at present, there is no law in Liberia that explicitly forbids domestic violence or that prescribes any punishment for perpetrators” ( (Shortly into her term as president, President Sirleaf enacted a national law against rape).

In a later article from VOAnews, it says how “Liberia has become the latest nation to sign a pledge to end violence against women and girls” and shared some statistics about domestic violence in the country, such as how “the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show 33 percent of married women in Liberia have reported experiencing domestic violence.  Up to 77 percent of Liberian women say they have been the victim of sexual violence” (VOAnews). In February of 2013, “President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took a step forward in addressing the issue when she signed a U.N. pledge to end violence against women and girls.  She is only the 19th head of state to do so” (VOAnews), which is definitely a step in the right direction for the women of Liberia.

Bring Back Our Girls

Earlier this year in April of 2014, the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement swept the world. According to the website, “on April 15th, 273 School girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram Terrorists in Nigeria. Approximately 230 are still missing”. Much like how celebrities became involved with the Half the Sky movement, many celebrities began showing their support for the missing girls with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

This social media movement was an effort to try to spread awareness for the missing girls and get not only the Nigerian government to put more resources into finding the girls, but also the United States and United Nations into helping bring these girls home (NYTimes Bring Back Our Girls). (As an interesting side note, the author of this NY Times article is also the author of the book Half the Sky and was also featured in the documentary).


Sources: Wikipedia, Youtube Half the Sky, Youtube Liberia Domestic Violence, Liberia, Bring Back Our Girls, NYTimes


Exploring the foundation: poverty, government sponsors and the MDGs


Wednesday, September 3, 2014


In a TED talk with Jacqueline Novogratz, she outlines the definition of poverty and gives us an important message: we should not consider our progress for aid, and the increase in aid as an end goal.
She says we should see it as ‘Chapter One.’ We should celebrate what we has been accomplished but know that it is just the beginning of progress; that we have to build sustainable programs; that the people who are impoverished can do this and should run this themselves. Poverty, Novogratz said, is the faces of farmers, factory offices, government workers, and many millions of others that work for under a few dollars every day.
Of the many things interesting about Novogratz, I found she has led many TED talks and have shared just a few of them below:

 In this TED talk, Novogratz talks about people who have “immersed themselves in a cause, a community, a passion for justice.”

This TED talk also focuses on something Novogratz pegs as “patient capitol.”

This TED talk is the one we watched regarding critiques of foreign aid. She prefers entrepreneurial innovation as a method of development.

The Millennium Development Goals is based on eight separate but essential goals and, according to the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGS, they are as folllows:
•Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
•Achieve universal primary education
•Promote gender equality and empower women
•Reduce child mortality
•Improve maternal health
•Combat HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases
•Ensure environmental sustainability
•Develop a global partnership for development
There are many effects of neo-liberalism to consider when discussing aid. Cutting government spending can increase the opportunity for emerging social movements, such as economic equality while decreasing the living standards of those within both the public and private sector. With businesses cutting benefits and maximizing profit, adverse effects impact the workers and livelihood of the community.
John McArthur also discusses the “key players” contributing to aid in his essay, Own the Goals. Some of the mentioned players are George W. Bush and the State Department. He criticizes the Unites States’ early decisions not to support the Millennium Development Goals because it acted as a key player in developing them. Later administrations have been more vocal of their support for the MDGs. McArthur criticizes the World Bank for similar reasons.
In the article, “How to Help Poor Countries” the authors suggests more involvement of the poor countries because true development, they argue, can only be determined by the country being affected. The authors suggest that we should not ignore other important measures at expense of these aid projects because wealthy countries can only play a limited role with the rest being the poor country in question.
Since we have studied the authors of the others so in-depth, I decided to also look in to the three authors that wrote this article:
Photo by the Center for Global Development

Photo by the Center for Global Development

Nancy Birdsall is the President of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. According the Center for Global Development, her areas of focus is: development economics, globalism and inequality, the aid system, international financial institutions, education, Latin America as well as climate financing. She has worked for many years at the World Bank, Economic Reform Project and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Photo by the Institute for Advanced Study School of Social Science

Photo by the Institute for Advanced Study School of Social Science

Dani Rodrik is the Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. According to the Institute for Advanced Study, Rodrik is an economist researching globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy. He has taught at Harvard and Columbia.
Photo by the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Photo by the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Arvind Subramanian is the Division Chief in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, he is currently the Chief Economic Advisor for India and has published in numerous publications regarding economics, policy, international development and more.

Women take micro-loans and work towards self-sufficiency


My opinion is that yes, of course women deserve micro-loans and they can do incredible things with that small amount of money but micro-loans can also be limiting if that is the only option. Women want to be able to move forward and if the solution is “solved” merely by providing micro-loans, women will never be able treated equally.

This video highlights the struggles of women in Ghana and how micro loans have helped women create small businesses. Some reasons the narrator says micro loans have been successful in Ghana is because it is peaceful and safe as well as a democracy.

She says that micro loans were first developed in the 1970s. I liked the example of the woman who opened a preschool when she saw women working all day, in the hot sun with children on her back. I saw confidence in the way she presented her business proudly and said it was her initiative but she wants more.

After they gain these rights, the women start to want more. They started to demand other rights like access to health for themselves and their children and that includes getting health care insurance.

This video specifically looks at KIVA and some of its projects with micro loans. KIVA works in 84 different countries with nearly 300 different field partners and 450 volunteers. I was really impressed with the results of KIVA. They have had $641.5 million in loans since 2005 have an impressive 98.81 percent repayment rate.

After looking at their map, it appears more than 500 loans are in Kenya.

Above is a video I found about entrepreneurial efforts in Rwanda. The loans in the video ranged from buying flour for a woman’s inventory, trees to be cut into fire world and pig food for a pig farm. All the funds are supposed to go to business ventures that will be able to be paid back and, as previously said, they have a very good repayment rate.


Hallward-Driemeier, M. Hasan, T., and Rusu, A.B. Women’s Legal Rights over 50 years 

Kabeer Conflicts over Credit: Re-Evaluating the Empowerment Potential of Loans in Women in Rural Bangladesh 

Mayoux, L. Tackling the down side: Social Capital, Women’s Empowerment and Micro-Finance in Cameroon

Chen, M., Sebstad, J. and O’Connell, L. Counting the invisible workforce: The case of homebased workers. – 8 pages–en/index.htm