Living with Drought: Testing Weather-Index Based Insurance

The Center for Strategic & International Studies hosted Dr. Shukri Ahmed on August 21, 2012 for his presentation Weather-Index Based Crop Insurance for Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia: A Multi-Agency Pilot Project. Dr. Ahmed is a team leader for the Early Warning and Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis group with the Trade and Markets Division of the FAO. He is currently working on a pilot project in Ethiopia to see if weather- index based insurance can create an avenue for greater development in Ethiopia and allow for small scale farmers to reap more benefits from their hard work. Continue reading

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In God We Trust? The Pros and Cons of Faith-Based Organizations

In recent years, faith-based aid organizations (FBOs) have been positively thriving. Many of these religiously affiliated groups have benefited from donations and volunteers. For example, the evangelical group World Vision recently reported a near tripling of their budget since 2000, while Catholic Relief Services pulled in $919 million in revenue this past year ($294 million coming from private donations), an agency record. Furthermore, a recent study showed that, based on participation, FBOs are the most popular organizations through which to volunteer. By combining increased funding with an ever-growing pool of human help, there’s no doubt that FBOs have greatly increased their influence and importance. However, some FBOs have also received criticisms regarding their activities. This blog examines the pros and cons of faith-based organizations. Continue reading

Libya: At a Critical Juncture

An unnamed participant speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently remarked that “it would be a mistake to think that the international community’s work [is] over once Gadhafi is gone; it is only then that the real work begins.”
He makes a compelling point.
Although Tripoli fell to NATO-backed rebel forces in less than 200 days, many have warned that development activities in the post-conflict reconstruction period will last for many years. This agreement has provided an opportunity for scholars and practitioners alike. In the months since the beginning of the civil war, the intellectual community has attempted to draw actionable plans for a post-Gadhafi Libya. The number of panels convened is impressive.
Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Professor Dirk Vandewalle, from Dartmouth suggests that the most complex question facing new authorities is how to restructure the state with “a political formula that is acceptable to a number of different players that have traditionally been antagonistic, but that were held together by the authoritarian policies of the Qaddafi government”.
To make a modern state out of Libya, transition leaders have to hold the nation together, without the coercive use of force.Vandewalle insists that traditional tribal identities will make this difficult.
To complicate the matter further, Libya’s economy is highly centralized. The oil and natural gas industries, which are state-owned monopolies, account for about 95% of export revenues and over half of GDP. Consequently, about 90% of government revenue comes from hydrocarbons. Transitional leaders looking to earn the allegiance of tribal leaders may be tempted to to dig into these oil revenues to buy national cohesion.

In this regard, some have suggested that pushing for wholesale democratic reforms today may precipitate the undoing of the Libyan republic, particularly in light of a foreseeable struggle for national authority.  As Soumaya Ghannoushi of The Guardian reports: “The vacuum created by Gaddafi’s departure is now filled by two polarized camps”: the National Transitional Council  on one side (NTC) and the political and military leaders that liberated cities across Libya on the other. Until the power struggle between these two factions is resolved, it is unlikely that a sustainable path to development can be achieved. Furthermore, it would be unwise to liberate Libya’s frozen funds to any side without having solved the political question first.

Once these issues have been squared, controversy will move to spending (how and how much to spend). According to Reuters, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund holds around $70 billion in assets.  Legitimate transition authorities will inevitably have to tap into these funds to bring Libya up to its economic capacity. To do so, they must seek guidance from both friendly governments and the private sector. In this, the opportunities are limitless.

However, before all of the complexities associated with economic development are analyzed, Libyans must decide for themselves how to organize politically. How long this will take, or the end result of said process is, however, unknown. Thus making this a critical juncture in Libya history.

The Medical Device Industry: A New Player in Global Health

by Jeremiah Norris – Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

On February 16, the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored a presentation by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The key speaker was Jean-Luc Butel, Executive VP & Group President International of Medtronics. His subject: “Tackling the Global NCD Epidemic: How the Private Sector can and Should be Part of the Solution”.

Late last year, Medtronics made a $1 million contribution to the Clinton Global Health Initiative. This has since been transferred to the NCD Alliance, comprising the International Diabetes Foundation, the Union for International Cancer Control, the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, and the World Heart Federation.

Some key issues addressed by Mr. Butel: Continue reading

Global Preparedness for Graying Population

Picture Courtesy of CSIS
Picture Courtesy of CSIS
GAP Index Country Rankings, Note: Countries are ranked from best to worst
GAP Index Country Rankings, Note: Countries are ranked from best to worst

Will countries grow “older” before they get “richer”? Population aging has become a global phenomenon. According to the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), since World War II, global life expectancy has risen from about45 to 65. In wealthy countries, life expectancy has risen from mid 60s to high 70s, and in a few countries, including Italy and Japan, it has reached 80. Similarly, United Nations Population Division (UNPD), population projections show that the world median age will rise from 26.4 in 2000 to 36.8 in 2050. While it is good news that the longevity is on the rise due to various achievements in science, public health, and socioeconomic development, can the world handle its growing elderly population? Continue reading