By Elizabeth Melampy
Iraq’s Higher Committee for Education Development (HCED), established in 2009, provides scholarships for promising students to study at foreign universities, mainly in the US. In 2015 alone, HCED has a budget of $125 million. This program is a long-term investment in improving Iraq’s public sector efficiency and stability; educating the brightest students abroad in the best universities, where they can benefit from new perspectives and better education, will pay off when the students return to Iraq’s public sector. Thus, ensuring that students return home and enter public service is key to the success of this investment. Convincing these students to return home, however, can prove challenging when employment prospects in Iraq seem limited.
There are many critiques of this type of program, especially in a fragile, post-conflict context like Iraq, where $125 million could certainly help fix more immediate domestic issues. For example, critics argue that the health sector in Iraq is in a dire need of money, and rerouting the HCED budget to the health sector could save lives. Why, then, is Iraq investing in this education program?
Many countries are investing in sending students abroad as a means of securing their national future.
Iraq is not alone in sending its best students to foreign universities. Many developing countries have similar programs to educate students abroad with the expectation that they will return to work in the public sector. Countless world leaders have been educated in the U.S., and this trend of sending students abroad to developed countries to study is only growing. Continue reading
By Elizabeth Melampy
Earlier this year, the US-based NGO Digital Democracy held a coding conference in Peru called “Hack the Rainforest.” While most coding relies on the internet, this conference took place in a rural outpost of 100,000 people in the Peruvian Amazon where there is limited internet access. Coders addressed an unpopular question in development: how can technological advances help those with no internet access?
Despite high predictions of the growth of internet penetration, some of the world’s most rural regions are years away from reliable internet access. In South America, some 54.7 percent of people have access to the internet, a 1,455.6 percent increase in users since 2000. That progress is impossible to discount, and many development agencies and proposals are looking at ways to both increase internet penetration and then to use the internet as a valuable developmental tool.
For some areas, like this stretch of Peruvian Amazon, internet access is not yet available.
At the same time, almost half of the region remains without internet access. Creating development strategies that rely on internet access ignores half of the population, and this ignored half is often based in remote regions most in need of development. Infrastructure barriers to internet access remain massive in many places; while universal internet access is within the future realm of possibility, it is still years away. Development shouldn’t have to wait for people to get access to the internet, even if that means we need to come up with new, “offline” strategies in the meantime. Continue reading
By Ariel Gandolfo
While the ambitious, 169-point Sustainable Development Goals are still being solidified, the next big question in development will most certainly be how to finance them. Official development assistance (ODA) as a share of national GDP in many developing countries has been steadily shrinking, and identifying other sources of financing is crucial. Already, discussions here at the CSIS Project on U.S. Leadership in Development have focused on Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) and the importance of strengthening national tax bases and collection systems to increase the funds available for investment in national economic growth.
Western Union is one of the largest remittance services in the world. Pictured here, an outlet in Angeles City, Philippines.
Another source of overseas assistance with potential to impact national development is remittances. Remittances from diaspora populations are usually sent to families of the migrants working abroad, and as such have a limited, micro level effect. Yet global remittances already triple the value of official foreign assistance. Leveraging these inflows – which total in the millions and billions of dollars per country each year – to invest in public funds for infrastructure and social entrepreneurship may, however, contribute to more long-term, macro level economic growth. Continue reading
By Melanie Abzug
Responding to India’s high rate of violence against women and low rate of reporting, a Mumbai NGO recently launched an Android app that enables virtual reporting of incidents by trained volunteers. Part of the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Actions (SNEHA)’s “Little Sister Project” with UNDP, the app is called EyeWatch. It began operations in Mumbai’s multi-ethnic Dharavi slum in 2014.
In India 43.6 percent of gender-related crimes are committed by a husband or relative of the victim. This fact, along with societal stigmas applied to victims of sexual assault, often discourages reporting. SNEHA’s initiative seeks to encourage reporting while providing complementary training for women and building cooperation with the police. The initiative has trained 160 local women called “sanginis” so far on how to properly identify and report cases of violence. Sanginis can use their mobile devices to record incidents they witness on the spot. In other cases they are approached by survivors or hear about incidents and then approach the women to provide assistance with reporting. Survivors are also connected with trained professionals who offer medical and legal support.
In slums like Dharavi, it can be difficult to deliver public goods and services– apps like EyeWatch can help bridge this gap.
In addition, 4,500 police officers and more than 2,100 public hospital staff have been trained to identify domestic abuse. Incidents are stored in SNEHA’s database, which helps the organization map violence assist NGOs to understand the situation in the community. Continue reading
By Miguel E. Eusse Bencardino
In 2010 the East African Community (EAC) created a common market protocol under which products and services can move freely between borders to enhance regional economic integration and global competitiveness. Last November the East African Business Council (EABC) led a successful initiative to extend the agreement to include the free movement of workers across borders. This allows cooks, accountants, engineers, and other service workers to work temporarily in Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. The agreement integrates the service sector into East African economies, providing a needed source of sustainable development and employment for the region.
The initiative began with public-private dialogues supported by international development agencies, including The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the African Capacity Building Foundation, and the International Trade Center. The discussions identified the issue of labor mobility as an obstacle in the region’s plan for integration and development. Ugandan engineers hoping to work in Tanzania, for example, were not able to provide their services because of government restrictions and high taxation. Such stories prompted the EAC’s Council of Ministers to endorse the initiative to create a legal framework for free labor movement.
The East African Community flag (EAC)
International commercial blocs around the world have similar free labor agreements; the Pacific Alliance between the governments of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile is one example. The Lima Declaration of 2011 states that “the movement of business people and the facilitation of migration transit, including the cooperation with immigration and consular police” is a priority. Continue reading