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Nancy Birdsall is president emeritus and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a policy-oriented research institution that opened its doors in Washington, DC in October 2001. Prior to launching the center, Birdsall served for three years as senior associate and director of the Economic Reform Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her work at Carnegie focused on issues of globalization and inequality, as well as on the reform of the international financial institutions.
From 1993 to 1998, Birdsall was executive vice-president of the Inter-American Development Bank, the largest of the regional development banks, where she oversaw a $30 billion public and private loan portfolio. Before joining the Inter-American Development Bank, she spent 14 years in research, policy, and management positions at the World Bank, most recently as director of the Policy Research Department.
Birdsall has been researching and writing on economic development issues for more than 25 years. Her most recent work focuses on the relationship between income distribution and economic growth and the role of regional public goods in development.
Birdsall is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Food Policy Research Council (IFPRI), of the African Population and Health Research Center, and of Mathematica. She has chaired the board of the International Center for Research on Women and has served on the boards of the Social Science Research Council, Overseas Development Council, and Accion. She has also served on committees and working groups of the National Academy of Sciences.
Birdsall holds a PhD in economics from Yale University and an MA in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Putting Education to Work in Egypt, by Nancy Birdsall and Lesley O'Connell. Prepared for Conference, Growth Beyond Stabilization: Prospects for Egypt, sponsored by The Egyptian Center for Economic Studies in collaboration with the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector, University of Maryland; the Harvard Institute for International Development, and the US Agency for International Development, February 3-4, 1999, Cairo, Egypt. March 1999.
"Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America: Deeper Markets and Better Schools Make a Difference," with Jere R. Behrman and Miguel Szekely, in New Markets, New Opportunities? Economic and Social Mobility in a Changing World (1999)
"The U.S. and the Social Challenge in Latin America: The New Agenda Needs New Instruments," with Nora Lustig and Lesley O'Connell, in The Search for Common Ground: U.S. National Interests and the Western Hemisphere in a New Century (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999)
"Deep Integration and Trade Agreements: Good for Developing Countries?" with Robert Z. Lawrence in Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 1999)
"No Tradeoff: Efficient Growth Via More Equal Human Capital Accumulation in Latin America," in Beyond Trade-Offs: Market Reforms and Equitable Growth in Latin America (1998)
"That Silly Inequality Debate," in Foreign Policy, May/June 2002
"Education in Latin America: Demand and Distribution are Factors that Matter," with Juan Luis Londoño and Lesley O'Connell in CEPAL Review 66, December 1998
"Life is Unfair: Inequality in the World," in Foreign Policy, Summer 1998
"Public Spending on Higher Education in Developing Countries: Too Much or Too Little?" in Economics of Education Review, 1996
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the achievements of her year-old government in recovering from a prolonged civil war and called upon the U.S. and other Liberian partners to drop the debt inherited from past governments, continue security assistance, and step up development assistance, especially road building.
"Slowly but steadily we are making our way back. We know we can create a new peaceful, open and prosperous Liberia," said Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, at an event (video clips of Pres. Johnson Sirleaf and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. are available on the event page) organized by CGD that marked the start of an official visit to Washington.
"We believe that Liberia can be an example…that war-torn dictatorships can turn around and become responsible members of the international community," she said. "We are willing and ready to make the hard decisions, to adopt the right policies, to put in the right systems, if you are willing to be with us and support us, politically, analytically, and financially."
While in Washington, Sirleaf will meet with representatives of Liberia’s international partners to describe its progress, outline its strategy, and discuss how the partners can support Liberia.
Sirleaf announced that CGD founder Edward Scott, Jr. would provide $1 million to assist Liberia in managing its reconstruction, by sponsoring five or six highly trained specialists each year for three years to work in key Liberian ministries to support senior officials and their staff (see press release). She also thanked CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet, who has been advising the Liberian government on its relations with the international donor community.
U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. told the gathering that additional U.S. help is needed to ensure that plans for rebuilding the Liberian national army are fulfilled. All the outside assistance "will go for naught unless there is peace and stability," Jackson said.
CGD president Nancy Birdsall, who recently visited Liberia, praised Sirleaf's government for rapid progress in restoring order and rebuilding systems destroyed during the prolonged civil war. The Liberian government reports quarterly on revenues and expenditures, she said, but donor organizations working in Liberia have yet to provide similar information about their activities to the Liberian government, despite repeated requests, she said.
After describing Liberia's rapid progress, Sirleaf listed six areas of concern involving support from the U.S. and other partners. First, she said, there is a risk that as Liberia improves, the attention of the international community will turn elsewhere. “Although we have made progress our recovery is still fragile,” she said. “If we do not redouble our efforts our ultimate success is not assured. Now is not the time to level off assistance.”
Second, she said, two critical elements of Liberia's program are not yet fully funded: security and roads. The U.S., which has strong historical ties to Liberia (which was founded by former American slaves), has played a leading role in restoring security. But U.S. funding for training the new Liberian army of 2,000 has not been provided beyond March, she said.
Similarly, although roads are central to providing health and education services, and to revitalizing the economy, “our partners still do not put as high a priority on building roads as we would like to see,” she said.
Other concerns included delays in disbursement; an unmet need for budget support; and possible gaps in the transition from humanitarian relief to development aid. In health, for example, NGOs that have provided badly needed medical services are preparing to withdraw, although other programs are not yet ready to replace them.
Finally, Sirleaf appealed for an urgent resolution of Liberia’s debt problem. Liberia’s debt of $3.7 billion is equal to 3,000 percent of the country’s annual export earnings. The debt, she said, is mostly from bad loans to past governments. She appealed to the shareholders of the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank to agree on a plan for debt relief that would not draw away donor resources needed for Liberia’s recovery.
On Thursday, Liberian Finance Minister Antoinette M. Sayeh, and Minister of Planning Toga G. McIntosh will report on the results of the Liberia Partners Forum at public event organized with CGD support. Register for the event.
Media Contact: Tony Kopetchny
Media Relations Associate
CGD Founder Ed Scott Donates $1 Million for Liberian Fellowships
Center for Global Development
WASHINGTON,D.C.(February 12,2007)- The government of Liberia and the Center for Global Development (CGD) announced today a new program to assist Liberia in managing its reconstruction. Each year for three years, the program will place five to six highly trained specialists in key Liberian ministries to support senior officials and their staff in advancing the rebuilding of the war-torn country.
The program, known as the Scott Family Liberia Fellows, was proposed by CGD's founding chairman, Edward Scott, and will be supported by a $1 million grant from the Scott family. Senior staff of the Center will provide overall guidance in the selection and activities of the fellows. The Scott Family Fellows will serve in Liberia for one year.
"I am very pleased to announce today that Mr. Scott and his family have agreed to donate generously one million dollars to assist Liberia by establishing the Scott Family Liberia Fellowships," President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said at the start of a week-long visit to Washington. She said that the fellowships "will provide the opportunity over the next two to three years for approximately 15 well-trained young professionals to work in Liberia for one year, assisting some of Liberia's most senior government officials."
CGD president Nancy Birdsall recently visited Liberia together with CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet, who has been advising the Liberian government on its relations with the international donor community. Birdsall welcomed the new fellows program.
"Ed Scott recognizes in Liberia a rare opportunity to provide significant support to a dedicated, highly capable, democratically-elected government struggling to recover from horrific conflict with extremely limited resources," she said. "I have no doubt that the program will benefit Liberia and the young professionals who are selected to participate."
The announcement came at a public event organized by CGD and the Mortara Center for International Studies at Georgetown University ahead of the Liberia Partners' Forum, to be held in Washington this week.
During the Forum, Sirleaf and senior Liberian officials will meet with Liberia's major international partners. The officials will describe Liberia's progress, outline its strategy for the near future, and discuss the ways in which the partners can best support Liberia's efforts towards recovery and sustained development.
Liberia's 14-year civil war left the country in ruins. Following the inauguration of President Sirleaf in January 2006, the country has begun the long journey to recovery. The new government has resettled tens of thousands of refugees, begun training new security forces, increased government revenues by more than 40 percent, restored electricity and water to parts of the capital, substantially increased primary school enrollment, and begun to rebuild roads and other critical infrastructure.
CGD conducts research and engages in policy debates to help improve the policies and practices of the U.S. and other rich countries towards development. CGD senior fellow Radelet has been advising Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her staff since her election and inauguration as Africa's first female head of state in January 2006.
This is a joint post with William Savedoff and Ayah Mahgoub.
Shout-out to Duncan Green and Oxfam for commenting on our new book and calling, like Nicholas Kristof, for pilots of COD Aid. Best of all, Duncan noted (as have several others such as Owen Barder in this note among others) that many of the usual concerns about COD Aid (see our FAQs for some) apply as much or more to other forms of aid.
But on one big point we disagree: It’s not true that COD Aid has been tried before.