Somaliland and Puntland Announce Breakthrough on Security Cooperation; In the meantime, where is the U.S. driving in the region?

A major announcement from Somaliland today, as reported by IRIN: HARGEISA, 28 September 2010 (IRIN) - Somaliland and Puntland, once-warring territories in northern Somalia, have unprecedentedly agreed in principle to work together to tackle common security threats. Troops from both…

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Obama’s “US Global Development Policy”–what part of this is 60s “anti-colonial” radicalism?

Obama’s speech to UN Development Summit, announcing “US Global Development Policy” (from NBC; h/t Aid Watch)

So let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests. And let’s reject the cynicism that says certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty. For the past half century has witnessed more gains in human development than at any time in history. A disease that had ravaged the generations, smallpox, was eradicated. Health care has reached the far corners of the world, saving the lives of millions. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, developing nations have transformed into leaders in the global economy.

. . . .

As President, I have made it clear that the United States will do our part. My national security strategy recognizes development as not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative. Secretary of State Clinton is leading a review to strengthen and better coordinate our diplomacy and development efforts. We’ve reengaged with multilateral development institutions. And we’re rebuilding the United States Agency for International Development as the world’s premier development agency. In short, we’re making sure that the United States will be a global leader in international development in the 21st century.
. . . .

We also recognize that the old ways will not suffice. That is why in Ghana last year I called for a new approach to development that unleashes transformational change and allows more people to take control of their own destiny. After all, no country wants to be dependent on another. No proud leader in this room wants to ask for aid. And no family wants to be beholden to the assistance of others.
To pursue this vision, my administration conducted a comprehensive review of America’s development programs. We listened to leaders in government, NGOs and civil society, the private sector and philanthropy, Congress and our many international partners.

Today, I am announcing our new U.S. Global Development Policy-the first of its kind by an American administration. It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals.

Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.

. . . .

First, we’re changing how we define development. For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent and the food and medicines we delivered. But aid alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop-moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal-from our diplomacy to our trade and investment policies.

Second, we’re changing how we view the ultimate goal of development. Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.

(more…)

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GAO says U.S. Dept. of Defense needs to determine future of Horn of Africa Task Force; report highlights challenges regarding coordination and effectiveness of civil affairs/development work

Government Accountability Office release.

The full 45 page report is here.

When we met with CJTF-HOA officials in October 2009, they estimated that, in addition to other tasks, about 60 percent of the task force’s activities focus on civil affairs projects. To conduct these quick, short-term projects, CJTF-HOA has established small civil affairs teams (for example, five or six personnel) who deploy to remote areas to engage the local communities and perform activities such as medical and veterinary care for local communities. While deployed, the teams generally nominate project proposals based on assessments they conduct as to what the communities need. The proposals are reviewed for approval by USAID, the embassy, CJTF-HOA, and AFRICOM prior to execution. During our October 2009 visit to the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia, we learned of several project proposals from civil affairs teams deployed in the country, ranging from under $10,000 to about $200,000—including the construction of a teaching farm, school renovations, training for local mechanics,

construction of an orphanage, and renovation of a bridge. None of the project proposals in Ethiopia had been approved at the time of our visit. CJTF-HOA officials told us that the project approval process can be lengthy, potentially lasting an entire year. This is generally longer than the tour rotations of some CJTF-HOA civil affairs team personnel.

. . . .

Furthermore, CJTF-HOA is coordinating with the Navy and coalition partners in CENTCOM’s Coalition Task Force 151, which conducts maritime security operations to protect shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean. AFRICOM has also established a socio-cultural research and advisory team on a semipermanent basis at Camp Lemonnier. The team consists of one to five social scientists who conduct research and provide cultural advice to the command.

. . . .

Other CJTF-HOA proposed activities may not consider the full range of possible effects or may not be clearly aligned with AFRICOM’s mission. For example, Department of State and USAID officials we contacted at one U.S. embassy expressed concern that some of the activities that CJTF-HOA had previously proposed, such as building schools for the partner nation, did not appear to fit into a larger strategic framework, and said that they did not believe CJTF-HOA was monitoring its activities as needed to enable it to demonstrate a link between activities and mission. These officials told us that instead of leveraging long-term data to guide future activity planning, CJTF-HOA may be proposing activities without considering the full range of potential consequences. The embassy officials cited a past example where CJTF-HOA had proposed drilling a well without considering how its placement could cause conflict in clan relationships or affect pastoral routes. Officials at other embassies described similar problems with CJTF-HOA proposals. To mitigate such issues, U.S. embassies have steered CJTF-HOA toward contributing to projects identified by USAID, which are better aligned with embassy and U.S. foreign policy goals. Moreover, some CJTF-HOA activities appear to be sporadic, short-term events that may not promote sustained or long-term security engagement. (more…)

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