Aid agencies announce they will be accountable to independent evaluators; This blog to permanently close

IRINA News, April 1, 2010 Geneva, Switzerland—A coalition of aid agencies meeting in Geneva today announced a historic agreement to reform the international aid system. In signing the agreement, heads of aid agencies formally committed to accept the verdicts of independent evaluators of the programs and projects in their portfolios.

The new measures require the 39 multilateral and bilateral aid agencies to scale up only those programs with a proven track record of success. Programs shown by independent evaluation to have no impact—or a negative impact—on their intended beneficiaries will not be funded.

“An international agreement of this type is long past due,” said Mr. Poshtoff Van der Peet, the spokesperson for the coalition. “We believe this is a major step towards making sure our aid monies are spent in such a way that they actually reach the poor. Some of use may even have to go out of business, but this is a price well worth paying to make sure aid reaches the poor.”

We were very glad to see this story on the wires today. Because of this breakthrough, Aid Watch blog will discontinue operations itself effective immediately. Laura Freschi and William Easterly will shift to doing research on the fundamental determinants of long run prosperity, leaving the commentary on aid in the safe hands of independent evaluators.

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The Development Satire Industry Reaches New Lows: Why?

I just found out about another contribution to the exploding development satire field. It's in EXTREMELY bad taste, is often disgusting, and always features  lacerating and offensive  satire  ... therefore, some of you will LOVE it. It's based around a blog called HR International (to keep our blog's PG-13 rating, I will not at this time spell out what HR stands for).  I found out about it because I am one of the 3 people that @hreliefint is now following on Twitter, along with @jeffdsachs and @talesfromthehood (the latter tipped me off).

A sample of of the HRI blog (from the small part that is printable in a family blog):

Ed and I know a thing or two about emergency coordination as we go back to the days in Aceh, where I’ve hired him to develop HRIs fishing-boat distribution strategy, a program that is currently being monitored and evaluated by HRIs M&E wing: initial findings indicate that this program will become yet another world’s best practice. The 800,000 or so USD that have remained unspent in that program will come in handy as HRI is preparing a dignified launch of the findings report in Bali, with a mass distribution component aimed at making one M&E report available to each family in Aceh and beyond.

What accounts for the explosion in development satire? Of course,  I am as guilty as anyone.  Based on random introspection, observation of a selection-biased sample of the aid industry, and unfounded guesses, the answer is obvious:  it's because of the increase in BS in development & aid. As the BS force keeps exponentially growing, there was bound to be an opposite force of protest.

We are using the only weapon that us weak people oppressed by the BS ruling elites can use: satire. As BS keeps rising, satire is going to keep exploding in revolt. A few of us (not me)  may go over the edge to the extremes of the HRI blog. So, just to be clear, you BS'ers in aid: all this bad taste is YOUR fault.

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Area Man's Starbucks Purchase Finally Ends African AIDS Epidemic

by Jeff Raderstrong at the blog Change Charity:

After deciding to add a bag of (Starbucks) RED brand coffee on top of his vente mocha latte order, area man Bill West completed the final piece of the puzzle to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa...

"This is a great day for humanity," said Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, where Starbucks made the $1 donation--taken from West's purchase--needed to rid the continent of the disease that had crippled it for decades. "All of our work, all of our time, all of our hopes are now validated by this one last push to end AIDS in Africa."

...Bono, humanitarian activist and U2 front-man, reached out to the broader global community to recognize the efforts of the people that made it possible.

"It is important to remember what went into this momentous occasion," said the rock star, one of the founders of the Product RED brand. "The Product RED line successfully mobilized Western consumers to go out and buy things they either already had or only moderately desired under the guise of social responsibility. With out these compassionate consumers, or the compassionate Starbucks marketing directors who decided to give up razor-thin amounts of their profit margin to the Global Fund in exchange for the Product Red partnership, this debilitating disease would still be destroying Africa."

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Analyzing We are the World for Haiti as a Music Critic and Aid Critic

Even aid critics have their sentimental side. I confess I was genuinely moved watching this video, which has been viewed more than 13 million times on YouTube. The video is very inspiring and well done. It made me let myself go and be carried along by the idealism and hope.

Unfortunately, my kids would like to point out that I also get sentimental listening to Scorpions' "There's No One Like You" , so  I may not be the best qualified music critic available.

So going back to my comparative advantage of being an aid critic, a couple of questions on the lyrics of We are the World at 25 for Haiti :

[Adam Levine] We are the ones who make a brighter day so lets start giving.

Dear Mr. Levine,  it touches me as a wee bit hubristic to restrict "brighter day" making abilities to "we" who are "the ones." Are you saying you are one of "the ones"? By the way, who are you?

[Will-I-Am] "Like Katrina, Africa, Indonesia and now Haiti needs us, they need us, they need us"

Dear Will-I-Am, Did you choose Indonesia to receive aid because it rhymes with "they need us"?

Aside from these quibbles, more power to all you artists who participated in this ! Can you let us know who to contact to make the "We aid agencies are accountable to the Haitians for results" music video?

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Adorable child in NGO fund-raising photo sues for royalties

The law firm Klayme, Chaise, & Steele LLC announced today that one of their clients was suing the prominent non-governmental organization (NGO) Care for the Children (CFTC) for unauthorized use of the client’s photo as a child.. The lawyers revealed their client is now a sophomore at a university, but refuses to give his name or home country to protect what is left of his privacy. The client remembers vividly the day he came across the cover of the CFTC brochure “Give for the Sake of the Children”, which featured a picture of himself as a child. The lawyers said, “At no time was permission given to CFTC by the child, his parents, or legal guardians to take such a photo, much less to broadcast innumerable copies of it around the Western world to gather funding for this organization.”

Moreover, the lawyers said, “at no time was our client compensated by Care for the Children, a beneficiary of such organization, or even aware of the existence of this organization.” Klayme, Chaise, and Steele LLC have filed a court petition to have Care for the Children turn over its photographic records to bolster their claim.

Lord Mall Blacke, a spokesman for Care for the Children, said they doubted the lawyers could prove their client was the same as the one in the photograph. “We don’t keep records of individuals in our photographs. We don’t know when this photograph was taken, or where. We can only guess it was somewhere in Africa. Or maybe Haiti.”

Other NGOs with similar photo and fund-raising practices are watching the case nervously.

DISCLAIMER: Klayme, Chaise, and Steele LLC is a fictional limited-liability corporation under New York State law, and hereby reserves the right to make fictional statements about non-true occurrences and related non-existent organizations and individuals to score heavy-handed satirical points for serious purposes.

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Previous post criticized Malthusian economics, but reading comprehension also may be a problem…

After our guest blogger and DRI post-doctoral fellow Adam Martin spoke out today against Malthusian population scares that lack economic credibility, he got the following invitation (abbreviated version):

Dear Adam

I am contacting you today to request your participation in the Population Institute’s Global Population Speak Out, February 2010.

I read your very thoughtful blog post.

And, I believe you are an important voice.

So, if you’re interested in supporting long term global sustainability, please click here:



The Global Population Speak Out Endorsers & Population Institute

Global Population Speak Out” calls on “scientists and scholars” to call attention to “the size and growth of the human population {that} are fundamental drivers of the ecological crisis we face…If we hope to avert worldwide catastrophe, {we must} “conduct a massive shift of attention and resources toward humane, progressive measures designed to stabilize and ultimately reduce world population to a sustainable level.”

There is preliminary evidence that the letter writer may have missed the part of Adam's post, namely all of it, where Adam was arguing against the claims made by the  “Global Population Speak Out.”

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