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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Congress to USAID: Stonewalling is SO over

Yesterday from a deliriously happy press release of Publish What You Fund:

Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, today introduced the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (HR 2139), a bipartisan bill designed to increase accountability and improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid

The bill:

instructs federal agencies to make aid information on a detailed country-by-country and program-by-program basis in a comprehensive, timely, comparable, and

Posted in Accountability and transparency | Tagged | 6 Comments

Bono and Foreigner


The long and remarkable reign of the celebrities in foreign aid shows no sign of abating. On a May 1 CNN special on TIME magazine’s new selection of the world’s 100 most influential people, according to a press release, “George Clooney — a four-time honoree — will sit down with U2 frontman and activist Bono to chat about fame and politics.”

In a desperate attempt to give some balanced perspective, let me be fair…

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs | 4 Comments

Response to “Can Starbucks Buy A ‘Saving Africa’ Image for a Nickel?”

We sent our blog post on the Starbucks RED campaign to Starbucks last week and offered them space to publish a response. Here is their answer from Vivek Varma, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs:

I suppose I should begin by thanking you for the opportunity to comment. It would have been nice to receive a call first so that the confusion in the Professor’s blog could have been addressed.

But let me layout…

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs | 11 Comments

We can make bad news look worse…and for Africa, we can make even good news look bad

Lost in the confusion of the Spring Meetings this weekend in Washington was the release of the IMF/World Bank Global Monitoring Report (GMR) 2009, the annual song of woe about lack of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. You would think the current supply of bad news was adequate for our needs, but the GMR has long made a specialty of portraying the poor nations as bleakly as possible and this year’s report was…

Posted in Cognitive biases | 3 Comments

Kenyans seek to prosecute manufacturer of wedding dresses made out of malaria nets

A report in the Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation:

Mosquito net manufactures are teaming up with the provincial administration and village elders in several parts of Kenya in an effort to apprehend and prosecute people who use the products for purposes other than covering beds.

According to Dr Elizabeth Juma, who is the head of malaria control under the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, there has been evidence of people turning the nets

Posted in Global health, In the news | 4 Comments

Peter Sellers makes unexpected appearance at G-7 meetings


In today’s NYT:

Headline: World Finance Leaders Meet, and Cautiously Glimpse ‘Green Shoots’ of Recovery

“American and European officials embraced a hopeful new buzz phrase — the “green shoots” of recovery.”

My wife immediately noticed the exact parallel to the classic 1979 movie “Being There.” A mentally-challenged gardener played by Sellers winds up by accident in Washington elite circles and is quickly embraced as a sage as he mumbles gardening platitudes about spring-time growth,…

Posted in In the news | Comments Off

Random Snippets and Miscellany

The FT has a great special section on malaria today (tomorrow is World Malaria Day). Their very sensible editorial says: “…malaria is becoming an industry in its own right. That brings responsibilities, including rigorous evaluation to ensure money is well spent.” There are plenty of other grounds for hope, let’s hope also that somebody will step up to hold this industry accountable.

In another article, FT writer Andrew Jack quotes activist Louis da…

Posted in In the news | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Can Starbucks Buy a “Saving Africa” Image for a Nickel?


I was curious about what the going rate is these days for attracting customers who want to save Africa. Five cents was a little lower than I expected.

How much money is flowing to Africa from this? Aid Watch’s exclusive investigation consisted of asking about seven Starbucks cashiers around Greenwich Village how often they processed the Starbucks Red card, with its payoff of five cents for Africa per use. All except one cashier said…

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Self-Esteem in Africa

by Moussa P. Blimpo (the author is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at NYU from Togo.)

A prominent university professor in the US goes back to his home country in Africa with his American Master’s student who wanted to get some field experience. The professor is unable to schedule a meeting with a key political leader whereas the student does get a meeting with the African leader.

Last summer, in a heated discussion with some…

Posted in Cognitive biases | 9 Comments

USAID Responds to ‘Life in the Aid World’

Kudos to the USAID press office for replying to us quickly when we sent them our post on the USAID Inspector General’s report of misuse of funds in Afghanistan. They replied with this statement:

The USAID IG severely criticizes the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for their management of the Quick Response Program in Afghanistan, conducted between 2003-2006. We recognize that Afghanistan is a difficult place…

Posted in Accountability and transparency, Organizational behavior | Comments Off