What We’re Reading 7/27/09

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AP: EU Seeks Billions Immediately for Poor
A draft European Union report says that rich countries should immediately mobilize billions of dollars in development aid to the world’s poorest nations in the run-up to global climate talks in Copenhagen. The EU is worried that an agreement might not be reached because of a gap in trust between poor countries and the rich industrialized states they blame for causing climate change. The report said clarifying and increasing the global contribution to “adaptation funding’’ between now and 2012 could contribute to trust-building.

The Guardian: Jeffrey Sachs: A Big Chance for Smallholders
Jeffrey Sachs writes that the G8’s $20bn initiative on smallholder agriculture is a potentially historic breakthrough in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty. But he says that obstacles remain: the main risk is that the aid bureaucracies now trip over each other to try to get their hands on the $20bn. Sachs advises that donors take the money out of the hands of 30 or more separate aid bureaucracies and pool it in one or two places, specifically the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Ag Week: Senate May Modify Foreign Aid Policy
As part of a move to increase the U.S. role in agricultural development in poor countries, the Senate is considering a modification of the Bumpers Amendment, the measure that forbids the U.S. government from using taxpayer dollars to help develop crops in other countries that could compete with U.S. production. The Senate Agriculture and Foreign Relations committee staffs are writing a modification of the amendment that would allow USAID to help develop crops in the poorest countries as identified by the World Bank, but would require that the aid stop if the country becomes a commercially competitive exporter in that crop.

Washington Post: In Niger Delta, Uneasy Peace as Rebel Disarmament Date Nears
Signs of harmony seem to be budding in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region due to a government offer of amnesty to rebels and a leading militant group’s halt to its attacks and kidnappings. But, two weeks before it is set to begin disarming militants, the government has revealed little about how it will reintegrate them into society or address the demands for increased development and oil revenue that the militants say drive their campaign of attacking oil installations and holding foreigners hostage. The offer’s vagueness is fueling fears that it will trigger a full-scale military offensive that could harm civilians.

Financial Times Editorial: Engaging Zuma
The Financial Times editorial board writes that the honeymoon for Jacob Zuma, sworn in as South African president in May, has ended almost before it had begun. South African urban unrest has been ongoing for five years, but there has been an upsurge in the tempo in recent weeks. The president has been slow to intervene, leaving the job to his ministers and local officials. But in some cases they are the very people to blame for the protests. The FT says Zuma must instead engage in the problem himself. As well as providing services promised from his campaign, he should focus on better government: clamping down on waste and corruption in the bureaucracy and the ANC party hierarchy.

-Grace Lamb-Atkinson

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