Hosting the Olympics: The Developing World’s Burden?

By Jackson Celestin 

The Olympic Games are supposed to be a celebration – a demonstration of global unity and national pride wrapped in ancient ceremony.  For the host city, the Olympics is more than just an opportunity to show off to the world.  It affords a collapsed timeframe for cities to take on huge projects that jolt their economy and catalyze long-term growth.  Though some cities have benefitted from the Olympics, for others, the hosting experience has been less than golden.  The expensive infrastructure and operating costs of Olympic projects have left cities with crippling debt that stagnates development rather than kick-starts it.

As Rio de Janeiro, Brazil prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games, the outlook is not positive.  The glamor of hosting this event has been overshadowed by economic, social, and political turmoil.  Compared to past hosts, Rio is expecting to take a major economic loss from hosting the Olympics and to feel the impact for years to come.  To understand Rio’s Olympics struggles, it is important to compare Rio to previous hosts while keeping Rio’s unique circumstances in mind. This article provides this analysis and concludes with a prediction of Rio’s post-Olympic status and questions for further debate.


Protestors marching on the National Congress building in Brasilia on March 13, 2016 (just under five months before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio).  Photo courtesy of Flickr user Agência Brasil Fotografias, under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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Nigeria’s Challenges Rise as Oil Prices Fall

By William Kabagambe

Africa’s economic expansion over the last decade can be attributed to natural resource production and increased manufacturing productivity that has caught the attention of foreign investors. The continent is seen by some as the next economic frontier, as seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are located in Africa. However, as commodity prices continue to fall African, oil exporters face serious challenges in the form of depreciating currencies, corruption, and deep cuts in government spending. In many ways, Nigeria is emblematic of this reality. In 2014, Nigeria surpassed South Africa as the largest African economy with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of nearly $510 billion. Nigeria, like many African countries, faces serious challenges in the form of plunging oil prices, security threats, corruption, and economic turmoil. As a result, fear and uncertainty now overshadow rapid growth in the once hopeful West African nation.

Nigeria’s economy has enjoyed sustained growth for over a decade, with an annual real GDP increase of seven percent. The attractiveness of doing business in the country has caught the eye of global investors, as Nigeria received nearly $6 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013. The non-oil sector is seen as the major driver of this new-found growth, where activity in the manufacturing, agriculture, and service industries are increasing. While Nigeria’s economy has diversified relative to other oil-rich nations such as Venezuela and Gabon, oil production remains a vital sector for the country’s fiscal revenue. In 2013, oil and gas represented 70 percent of Nigeria’s government income revenue as well as 94 percent of the country’s total export revenue.


Women bargaining for fruits in the ‘Park’ market, Nigeria. As commodity prices fall, increases in food prices become more apparent to the local community. Photo by Andrew Moore via Flickr.

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Putting the Cart Before the Horse: A Look into Afghanistan’s Decision to Join the WTO

By Ryan Lasnick

Having completed the bulk of the accession formalities, Afghanistan is scheduled to become the thirty-fifth least developed country (LDC) member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and only the sixth LDC to join since the organization’s inception. The country received approval to join the WTO on December 17 and will have until June 30 to ratify the agreement. LDCs often lack the capacity, both economically and governmentally, to make the necessary changes that WTO accession requires, which is why only six have joined in the past 20 years. Beyond this initial difficulty, the economic disadvantages for an LDC joining the WTO have been shown to be significant; yet Afghanistan has decided to accede despite these hazards. This leads to the question: Why has Afghanistan seemingly ignored conventional wisdom and decided to join the WTO?


Men involved in a money exchange business in a market in Afghanistan. On December 17, 2015 Afghanistan was approved to join the WTO and will have until June 30 to ratify the agreement. Photo by Gerard Carreon for the Asian Development Bank.

Since 2002 the United States has poured over $100 billion into state-building and establishing democratic institutions in Afghanistan, but little has changed. In fact, the influx of money has created new revenue channels for an existing and growing oligopoly. In the absence of a free market with functioning state regulation, the oligopoly and local power holders have determined access to economic resources in many markets across the country. Lack of interest and capacity by political authorities has created weak formal economic institutions, largely unaccommodating economic policies, and regulatory failure. Continue reading

Why Integrating Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance into Development Programming Matters

By Daniel F. Runde

 Integrated development is a process that seeks to link the design, delivery, and evaluation of projects across different sectors. Integrated development is not a new phenomenon but has returned over the last 15 years as part of a search for greater effectiveness and coherence especially in the context of fragility and conflict.  Integrated development was applied in some sectors in the 1970s and 1980s with mixed success. There are important reasons why we should care about integrated development and its relation to democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG):

  • First, the development “zeitgeist” is returning to more integrated approaches, making an impact on the practice and implementation of development, including in the U.S. bilateral context. The new Sustainable Development Goals (all 17 of them and their 169 sub-indicators), which are the “what” of international development, are to be approached in an integrated way.  The Paris/Accra/Busan/Global Partnership process – the “how” of development – presupposes an integrated approach to development.  Finally, the Addis Ababa Financing for Development process, the “how we are going to pay for development process,” refers to “integrated financing frameworks.”

In the U.S. context, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Partnership for Growth (PFG) and Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCS) reflect U.S. attempts to think about U.S. assistance in an integrated way, and one should expect expansion of these approaches in the future.  Recent changes in how the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) spends money also reflects integrated development concerns. Continue reading

Paper Orphans: The Implications of Shortsighted Humanitarian Assistance

By Amy Chang

Estimates from the Indian Ocean tsunami and Kashmir earthquake demonstrate that the number of orphans created by such large-scale disasters typically stands at two to three percent of death toll. Following the Haiti earthquake, however, the media released stories claiming that more than a million orphans were created by the disaster—a figure that would amount almost four times the total death toll. These exaggerated figures have won international attention, causing U.S. families to flood adoption agencies with requests for inter-country adoptions. While recognizing the good intentions of these compassionate individuals, this outpouring of sympathy has resulted in less than ideal situations: children are forced to separate from their families without being correctly identified as orphaned, either placed in orphanages or flown away to live with new families without undergoing the proper release procedure. There is an increased opportunity for child trafficking after large-scale natural disasters, as organizations find it difficult to discern actors interested in well-intentioned adoptions as opposed to those who are child smugglers.


Children displaced by the Nepal earthquake play with building blocks in a temporary classroom created at one of the 83 open spaces in the Kathmandu Valley. USAID is building classrooms and child-friendly areas to create community and restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of children and families affected by the disaster. Photo by Kashish Das Shrestha for USAID.

In the post-disaster environment, these orphans’ fate is complicated by the multitude of actors who join relief efforts. In most cases, private firms, local and international NGOs, and individuals can all contribute to multilateral and government aid efforts, despite lack of experience in the adoption process. Security is relaxed to move aid in faster, and coupled with the outpouring of sympathy from donor countries, the process of adoption may be expedited. After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the United States employed the use of a “humanitarian parole” process where American families were allowed to expedite Haitian adoptions without checking to confirm that the child does not have existing kin. Family-tracing efforts after the Indian Ocean tsunami have taken months, or even years, to bear fruit; yet merely two weeks after the Haiti earthquake, 33 children were found being illegally taken out of the country by Baptist missionaries. Save the Children and World Vision quickly called for a halt to adoptions after the earthquake, recognizing that sentimental stories of Haitian orphanages struggling after the disaster may have led to premature overseas adoptions – separating these children from their families forever. Continue reading