The Washington Weekly – February 13, 2013

February 13, 2013

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The Hunger Project’s Executive VP, John Coonrod, is in Washington, DC to strengthen THP’s seat at the table of international development. Each week, John sends us insight into issues of health, policy, human rights and more by way of the Washington Weekly.

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THP Rises to Halt Gender-Based Violence

Today was V-Day! I’ve already received the first photos from around the world of THP participation in One Billion Rising events – I joined the event here in DC! More details to come next week.

Check out my photos from One Billion Rising!

New Publication: Time to Listen – Validates Our Approach. Free download!

What if aid agencies actually listened to people? This wonderful book listens to 6,000 voices across the spectrum of relief and development – delivering some painful messages to the status quo, and coming up with a paradigm shift grid (page 138) that is astonishingly similar to ours.

Obama plugs our issues!

One would think that US Presidents would ALWAYS include at least one sentence in their annual State of the Union Address on the commitment to lift people out of poverty around the world. For example, ten years ago, George W. Bush launched PEPFAR – the largest-ever initiative addressed at a single disease.

But this isn’t the case. In 2012, for example, the subject only got a three-word aside, nothing at all in 2011 and one sentence in 2010. But this year, in a clear reference to the emerging Post-2015 agenda, President Obama stated:

“We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all — not only because it creates new markets, more stable order in certain regions of the world, but also because it’s the right thing to do. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades by connecting more people to the global economy; by empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve, and helping communities to feed, and power, and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.”

Post-2015 update from Monrovia

I attended three meetings this week with readouts from the High-Level Panel (HLP) meeting just completed in Monrovia. John Norris, who works with John Podesta, a US member of the Panel, reported that the meeting addressed five key questions, around which there was a surprisingly strong sense of alignment.

One set of goals or two? The panel wants one set that contains both the social (MDG-type) and sustainable development goals (Post-Rio SDG).
Should the HLP propose specific goals, or simply a framing narrative. It will provide goals.
Is this MDG 2.0 or something more radical? Gates has recommended MDG 1.5. This is likely to be a happy medium – MDG 2+.
Universality? Will goals apply to both rich and poor countries? Most likely. The US has shown some willingness to join in global efforts with its own poverty, such as the revitalized Child Survival Campaign. This will be particularly useful since the majority of the “Bottom Billion” now live in the middle-income countries.
Institutional Change? The MDGs ignored governance, yet the issue emerged big-time in the Paris Principles. There are now governance issues everyone can probably agree on that are key to the Post-2015 agenda – issues with strong economic rationales, such as land tenure, budget transparency, accountability, and the right of every citizen to a legal identity.

A New Paradigm for USAID?

One of my highest priorities here is supporting Mary Ellen in the work of InterAction’s CEO Task Force to create a new relationship with USAID. Last week, there was a glimmer of a breakthrough that I am eagerly pursing.

There is a funding mechanism at USAID called a “Global Development Alliance (GDA). A GDA allows USAID and other organizations to sit as co-equal partners in creating and funding a new initiative. It is not the usual top-down, competitive, micromanaged contract that USAID usually uses.

At last year’s UN General Assembly, InterAction members (including THP) committed to invest $1 billion on food security over the next three years. While much of this is already programmed, with a GDA, a group of us NGOs could conceivably create a joint-venture with USAID on something bold, visionary and high-profile – like strengthening country-led strategies for 250,000 African women farmers to lift themselves out of poverty.

This is the first realistic pathway I’ve seen to possibly channel US funding into work that would be on our purpose line. I will keep you posted.

Upcoming Events

February 25-28: UN thematic consultation on Post-2015 governance goals in South Africa.

(Being rescheduled) – AU/FAO Conference on Ending Hunger in Africa, Addis (hopefully Dr. Dicko can attend)

March 4-15 – UN Commission on the Status of Women – focus on halting violence against women. THP side event, Tuesday March 12, 10:30am.

March 22: World Water Day

April 19-21 – World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington

April 24 – THP/UNDEF Participatory Local Democracy Consultation in Cape Town

April 29-May 1 – InterAction Forum, Arlington, Virginia

May 28-30 – Women Deliver Conference, Kuala Lumpur

June 8 – London Hunger Summit before the G8.

June 10-11 – Scaling-up Nutrition/1000 Day Summit in Washington

June 13-14 – Civil20, Business20, Youth20 Summits in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

June 27-28 – International Conference on Population and Development, Paris

September 5-6 – Leaders G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia

September 24-29 – Opening of the UN General Assembly

October 2 – Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the awarding of the Sarojini Naidu Prize.

October 5 – The Hunger Project Fall Event

October 11 – International Girl Child Day (which will subsume our National Girl Child Day.)

October 16 – World Food Day