Obama administration unveils strategy for meeting global poverty goals
The Obama administration is rolling out its strategy for meeting the Milennium Development goals, eight commitments by U.N. members to dramatically reduce global poverty by the year 2015.
The strategy was unveiled at a meeting Friday at the United Nations Foundation that was closed to the press. But according to a copy obtained by the Post, the new plan puts a heavy emphasis on using innovation and doing a better job of measuring what projects work and what don't.
The plan doesn't call for new money; it is more of a roadmap on how the U. S. government uses foreign aid.
By "innovation," the administration means both using new technology, stimulating new ideas in poor countries, and making sure people have access to knowledge. A few examples:
--expanding use of low-cost resuscitation technology to reduce the deaths of newborn babies;
--increasing agriculture research in impoverished countries;
--developing a global "virtual" science library using social networking.
The strategy also pledges to improve the transparency of aid flows.
Greg Adams, director of aid effectiveness at Oxfam America, said the strategy represented an evolution in how to think about foreign assistance.
"We don't do development. People and countries develop themselves," he said. "The way you do that well is by investing in the places where there's local energy for change. That's the innovative approach that's talked about in this MDG action plan."
Aid experts had been eagerly awaiting the strategy, which had been promised by Obama in addition to a major speech this fall at the United Nations on global development.
But fulfilling the milennium goals by 2015 will require "historic leaps in human development," the strategy noted.
The goals include cutting in half the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, compared to 1990 levels.
The Obama administration has launched major initiatives on improving global health and helping small farmers in impoverished countries. But its ambitions may be tempered by cuts in foreign-aid expected in the 2011 budget, which is wending its way through Congress.
The Bush administration won praise from development experts for its huge HIV-AIDS program in Africa and the establishment of the Milennium Challenge Corporation, which provides development grants.
But the last administration "sort of ignored" the Milennium goals, said Peter Yeo, vice-president of public policy at the United Nations Foundation. Obama's embrace of them "will make it easier for the U.S. to work with other donor countries and the developing world" on poverty issues, he said.
Mary Beth Sheridan
| July 30, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
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