Masood Ahmed Named as the New CGD President
Representatives confirmed on Sept. 6, 2016, that Masood Ahmed would begin serving as the new Center for Global Development (CGD) president in early 2017. Current President Nancy Birdstall announced the end of her 15-year tenure with the organization last November. Now that the CGD has found an equally accomplished replacement, she is thrilled to welcome a leader of Ahmed’s caliber to the team.

The CGD works to change practice and policy in wealthy nations in a way that alleviates global poverty. Per the organization’s website, “We are a policy crucible where world-class scholars use independent, rigorous research to develop new knowledge and practical solutions.”

Because the organization has a proven track record of influencing developmental policy worldwide, finding a new CGD president with global reach was paramount. After conducting an intensive search, the selection committee chose Ahmed for his impressive record of service for the world’s poor.

Here are five facts about Masood Ahmed’s career that will position him for success as the new CGD president:

  1. Ahmed has multiple degrees from the London School of Economics (LSE).
    LSE is one of the world’s leading universities. Students and faculty alike regularly produce groundbreaking research in social sciences, economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, accounting and finance. The institution boasts a roster of top researchers and Nobel Prize winners. Ahmed excelled to such a degree that he took a position as lecturer at LSE after completing his postgraduate work.
  2. He has held senior positions within the World Bank.
    In 1983, Ahmed began working with the World Bank, which provides low-interest loans to aid programs in developing nations. Over the course of his career with the organization, he carried out emergency response, water management, flood protection and hydropower projects in nations across the globe. He also led the HIPC Debt Initiative, which provided 36 developing nations with $76 billion in funding since its inception in 1996.
  3. He redefined International Monetary Fund policies.
    Most notable of all, perhaps, is Ahmed’s extensive work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The organization is a collaborative effort among 189 member countries. Like the World Bank, IMF focuses on poverty reduction by way of strategic funding and the creation of financial stability in developing nations.
    Ahmed joined IMF in 2000 to serve as deputy director of the Strategy, Policy and Review Department. In that seat, which he held for three years, he oversaw the organization’s conditionality guidelines. In 2005, he played an instrumental role in redrafting those guidelines for the first time in 32 years. Such guidelines focus on internal evaluations of how funds are appropriated. These principles also set up safeguards that ensure all IMF funds are repaid once recipient nations reach financial stability.
  4. Ahmed took on global poverty from a government seat.
    Between 2003 and 2006, Ahmed served as director general for Policy and International Development of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). This branch of the British government is the driving force behind the United Kingdom’s global development efforts.
    DFID directors are tasked with ensuring that the U.K. cooperates to the fullest extent with U.N. development goals, enhancing the efficacy of British foreign aid by increasing transparency and improving international development policy.
  5. He led developmental efforts in the Middle East and Central Asia as an IMF director.
    Ahmed’s current position, which he has held since November 2008, is IMF director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department. Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, said that Ahmed has been a “visionary leader” in overseeing operations in the region. He will vacate this post in 2017.

Over the course of a brilliant career, the new CGD president has helped create meaningful, sustainable change in the developing world by working with some of the most influential agencies on Earth. The upward mobility of his career is indicative of a mind people trust and a voice those working for the world’s poor want to hear.

“CGD occupies a prime position in the development, policy and research worlds; in my career these have also been my worlds,” Ahmed said. While serving as the new CGD president, Ahmed will flex strategic muscles built by a lifetime of outstanding global service.

Madeline Distasio

Photo: Flickr

fighting poverty
Many university presidents and college students alike have taken it upon themselves to help fight for those less fortunate than them. From creating chapters of organizations like ONE and conducting research for the benefit of medicine, universities have played a major role in shifting the scale of poverty over the years.

The Economist once said Africa was the “hopeless continent,” but after years of innovation, the same magazine has deemed it “Africa Rising.” One way colleges and universities play a significant role in this is by partnering with global nonprofits.

Universities originally began creating partnerships to support low-income students and help them carve a secure pathway to college, but in doing so, they also managed to foster relationships with these nonprofits that have blossomed into much bigger roles.

Much of the research conducted by students and professors has also contributed to aiding those living in poverty. Many universities, such as Stanford, UC Davis and Columbia University have designated research departments for research on global poverty.

Columbia University has The Earth Institute, which focuses on a magnitude of projects ranging from agricultural sustainability and global poverty mapping to economic growth in underserved communities.

Their Millennium Villages Project, led by The Earth Institute, United Nations Development Programme and the Millennium Promise, a charity dedicated to fighting poverty, focuses their efforts on reducing global poverty by helping rural African villages become more economically and agriculturally sustainable.

The Center for Poverty Research at the University of California at Davis dedicates their time to training scholars to combat poverty. Their research net encompasses topics like health, education and the intergenerational transmission of poverty, which studies how poverty can be transferred from parent to child.

The Center is one of three poverty research facilities focused on using this research net to decrease poverty. The other two centers are comprised of the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin.

In February of 2014, Stanford launched a new research facility focused on ending global poverty called the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED).

SEED’s initiatives focus on using entrepreneurship, economics and business innovation to help create new markets and job opportunities in underdeveloped communities to help them rise out of poverty.

The program grants researchers at Stanford sums of money to conduct interdisciplinary research focused on poverty. SEED is housed in Stanford’s graduate school of business and has so far dedicated over ten million dollars to its research.

Lastly, universities contribute to fighting poverty through action-based organizations that use their efforts to create awareness, raise money and advocate for the alleviation of poverty.

For example, universities around the world continue to use their resources to end poverty, and with their efforts can help Africa go from “Africa Rising” to an economically and agriculturally stable continent.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: University of California, Davis, Columbia University, Stanford University

Photo: Flickr


Global_FundOne lesson that health care workers and medical teams learned from the Ebola crisis in Africa was “that disease prevention should not be held back by lack of money at a critical juncture when a relatively modest, strategic investment could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars further down the line.” That is why a $2 billion global fund has been proposed to create and research vaccines for priority killer diseases such as West Nile Virus, Ebola and MERS.

The point is to invest money upfront to have these vaccines ready when outbreaks occur. People could be vaccinated before the outbreak became extremely critical in the case of the recent Ebola crisis. Thousands of lives would be saved, as well millions of dollars. The Ebola case is reported to have cost $8 billion, if not more, in an attempt to control the spread. If vaccines had been readily available at the outbreak, then millions could have been saved from treating and burying victims.

The global fund would pay for the production of the vaccine as well as early and mid-stage testing of the vaccine. Thus, the money would close an existing gap between research done at universities and large-scale clinical trials that take vaccines to the market. In the case of Ebola, several successful vaccines showed positive signs in animal testings. If the funds had been in place at the beginning of the outbreak, testing could have been moved to initial human field-testing and vaccines would have been available to stop Ebola.

The $2 billion would come from governments, foundations, pharmaceutical industry and any other industries willing to donate. In return, the donors would sit on a panel with scientists to determine which proposals for vaccines to fund.

Any vaccine project is welcome to apply for financial aid, as it costs about $500 million or more to develop one vaccine. This is a chance for vaccines for diseases not targeted by governments, the World Health Organization or the U.N. to get funding for developing cures. This also provides the chance for older vaccines to be updated and become more effective.

Katherine Hewitt

Sources: Reuters, CIDRAP
Photo: Flickr

data for life
The 2014 Data For Life Prize, a continuation of the 2013 Children’s Prize, is a worldwide competition that aims to find the best resources that prevent child mortality around the world. The idea is to search for effective but under-utilized interventions to decrease the number of deaths of children under the age of five.

According to the World Health Organization, 6.6 million children under age five died in 2012. This averages out to 18,000 children dying per day. Eighty-three percent of these deaths are caused by infectious, neonatal or nutritional conditions. These are problems that can be fixed, but money and resources are needed to implement programs that will effectively make an impact.

Founded by Dr. Ted Caplow, the Data For Life competition asks individuals and organizations from all countries to research lesser-known solutions to these massive problems. The competition ends with two winners who each receive $50,000 to carry out their research, therefore up-scaling the interventions to make them more effective worldwide.

The idea for this competition came about because many of the humanitarian organizations attempting to reduce global child mortality lack the ability to perform research to determine the success of their interventions. The Data For Life Prize allows these organizations to have a chance at evaluating their programs.

Applicants are asked to create a scientific study with a budget of $50,000 that will validate a previously untested solution to child mortality. The studies are then evaluated by the greatest number of children they have the potential to save as well as the ability for the program to be up-scaled.

In the end, the interventions chosen must have the ability to become global players in the fight against child mortality. The company operates as an engineer by focusing on efficiency and ensuring that the models chosen will make the biggest impact while still being cost-effective.

The Data For Life Prize (as the Children’s Prize) gave $1 million to winner Dr. Anita Zaidi in Pakistan in 2013. The 2014 competition is already underway. The winner will be announced in December of this year.

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: Children’s Prize, WHO
Photo: Inhabitots

Each year, Foreign Policy compiles a comprehensive list of the most prominent figures in various areas of global thinking–artists, decision-makers and advocates alike–honoring them for their respective accomplishments. This year, widely known names such as Edward Snowden, Rand Paul and Vladimir Putin appeared on the list, all claiming their earned places within modern day history.

Following are all the selectees from the “Healer” category, each with a sentence description – as presented on the Foreign Policy website – and a short motivation for why these people deserve to have their names on the list. Here are the top global healers:

Dr. Caroline Buckee – “for using metadata to fight disease.”

Buckee pioneered the idea of using cellphone data in order to track human movement in malaria-infested zones, thus helping understand the epidemiology of the disease. In modern day society, mobile phones are spreading across the third world, making for an efficient and easy marker. Buckee’s research, published in 2013, covers crucial data collected from over 15 million cellphones.

Anand Grover – “for going to the mat with Big Pharma.”

A human rights lawyer and United Nations affiliate, Grover won a case against the Swiss company Novartis, which was at the time attempting to patent its cancer drug Glivec for consumption in India. Thanks to Grover’s efforts, the generic version of this effective, leukemia-battling treatment can be acquired for a price 92 percent cheaper than previously marked, thus introducing affordable medication for the poorer Indian population.

Michael Faye, Paul Niehaus, Jeremy Shapiro and Rohit Wanchoo – “for trusting the poor to spend their money wisely.”

Four economists co-founded the organization GiveDirectly, which focuses on allocating funds directly to those in need. With headquarters in Kenya, GiveDirectly transfers donations received online into pre-selected, poverty-stricken households. Rather controversial in nature, this approach has so far witnessed success.

Hannah Gay, Katherine Luzuriaga and Deborah Persaud – “for bringing us closer to a cure for HIV.”

A pediatrician and two researchers who developed an aggressive treatment which, for the first time in history, managed to cure a newborn child of HIV. Their work is the basis potentially eradicating the death sentence of HIV in the future.

Homi Kharas – “for charting a path to the end of poverty.”

Lead author in a post-Millennium Development Goals regime panel, the former World Bank economist has put tremendous efforts into anti-poverty planning. Kharas and his peers are currently aiming to end extreme global poverty by 2030.

Erica Chenoweth – “for proving Gandhi right.”

Arguing for the success rate of non-violent conflict, Chenoweth has compiled a data set ranging from the years of 1945 to 2006 that examines effectiveness of various political strategies. Applying the data to current events such as the issues with Syria, she is pioneering a revolutionary approach to political issues.

Sanjay Basu and David Stuckler – “for warning that austerity can be deadly.”

Epidemiologist and physician at Stanford and political economist/epidemiologist at Oxford respectively, these two men have come together in analyzing the effects of economic rigidity on public health in recent times. Compiling large amounts of data, they published the book “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills.” Their argument supports better funding of public health during economically severe times.

Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir – “for showing how scarcity changes the way you think about everything.”

Harvard economist and Princeton psychologist, these two men co-authored the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” Raising empathy for the poor, the book discusses the “scarcity trap,” and how not having enough resources changes the way people think.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: Foreign Policy, MIT Technology Review, Managing Intellectual Property, Times Higher Education, The Washington Post, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Give Directly
Photo: World Bank

Led by the University of Southampton, a team of researches have launched an online project, WorldPop, to map detailed population information of countries all over the globe.

With funding coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the website aims to provide open access to global demographic data which can be used to help combat challenges such as poverty, public health, food security and sustainable urban development. It combines country-specific data from national statistic services to construct detailed population distribution maps. Satellite imagery is also used to provide information on density, land cover and transportation networks.

“Our maps and data are helping charities, policy-makers, governments and researchers to make decisions which affect the quality of people’s lives. These could be as diverse as predicting the spread of infectious diseases, planning the development of transport systems or distributing vital aid to disaster zones,” said geographer at Southampton Dr. Andy Tatem, leader of the project.  “For example, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines with devastating effect, international organizations were able to download information about population density from our website to help with estimating impact and delivering aid efforts.”

Each country possesses its own summary page that users can view high resolution maps showing population numbers, age distributions, births, pregnancies, rates of poverty and urban growth.. Currently, WorldPop provides free data for Africa, Asia and Central and South America. Researches now plan to expand the project to cover all continents of the world and stress that datasets are regularly updated as necessary.

“The global human population is growing by over 80 million a year, and is projected to reach the 10 billion mark within 50 years. The vast majority of this growth is expected to be concentrated in low income countries, and primarily in urban areas. The effects of such rapid growth are well documented, with the economies, environment and health of nations all undergoing significant change,” said Tatem.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: Health Canal, Geospatial World, University of Southampton
Photo: WorldPop

For a variety of reasons, China has become known for its “interactiveness” with the global south. This “interactiveness” has included construction projects, student scholarships, and sending  doctors.

Recently, China began to fund five research centers in Africa and the global south in order to increase collaboration between Chinese and African scientists. The topics of focus for the scientists will include the climate, water, environmentally friendly technology, biotechnology, and space technology.

Using the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), $6.5 million will be distributed to the research centers over the course of the next three years. These funds will work to improve China’s soft power in the global south by conducting joint research projects between the CAS and the research centers.

Currently, there is a CAS network known as The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) that will also benefit from this Chinese outreach to the global south. Along with the research projects, the funding will also provide for an increase in workshops, training, and PhD programs.

According to Salim Abdool Karim, director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa and a TWAS member, “The five centers will play an important role in global scientific collaboration by increasing South-South training opportunities.”

This collaboration is expected to increase climate change research. Yongqiang Liu, a research meteorologist at the USDA Forest Service’s Center for Forest Disturbance Science sees it as a good way to “prepare future leaders to lead climate change research for developing countries.”

Action through research investment should improve China’s image in the world. Currently, China stands at 50% favorable and 36% unfavorable among populaces from around the world. Comparably, the US was seen as favorable by 63%, and unfavorable by 30%. More specifically, when people were asked if they thought China considered their country’s interests, 27% thought a great deal with 63% saying either not too much or not at all.

There is still a great deal of room for China to improve its international appeal. By working with developing nations to improve research in sustainable technology and other important sciences, China can build off the work of TWAS and foster support from citizens in these countries.

Once the three years comes to an end, the education and collaboration should improve the environmental technology sector, as well as build the capacity for a future scientific community with various projects and goals. If successful, this move may be beneficial in regards to China’s popularity as well.

– Michael Carney
Sources: SciDev.Net, Pew Global

When people ask how to help the poor, child sponsorship often is suggested. Indeed, for a small amount of money each month, organizations allow individuals to sponsor a child and help to provide education, food, and clothing for them. In return, the sponsors get a picture of the child and quarterly or annual updates from the organization regarding their child.  It has long seemed like an easy way to make an impact. The question many people ask, however, is does it really work? One development economist decided he was going to find out.

It seemed no one had ever been interested in finding the answer despite the fact that 9 million children are sponsored worldwide and more than $5 billion dollars per year is invested in child sponsorship programs. For organizations, obviously the stakes were high. If they allowed researchers to study the effectiveness of their programs, what would they do if they came back ineffective? After several years, one organization decided to allow themselves to be studied under one condition: anonymity.

The study initially looked at individuals in Uganda, studying 809 individuals including 188 who were sponsored as children. The results from the first study were any economist’s dream. The data clearly showed large and statistically significant impacts on the educational outcomes of sponsored children. It appeared the program was actually working! To solidify the results, the study was conducted in six other countries: Uganda, Guatemala, the Philippines, India, Kenya and Bolivia. Data was obtained on 10,144 individuals and the results were consistent with the first study. 27 to 40% more sponsored children complete secondary school and 50 to 80% more complete a college education. In addition to effects on education, the study found that sponsored children were also more likely to gain meaningful employment.

As a result of the study, the sponsorship organization removed the anonymity clause. Compassion International was the organization that allowed its program to be scrutinized; the results were clear that child sponsorship works. It helps lift kids and families out of poverty and provides them with hope. For more information about child sponsorship, visit Compassion International at

– Amanda Kloeppel
Sources: Christianity Today, Compassion International

Bread For The World Institute

Finding up-to-date information on research concerning hunger, poverty, and agriculture can be a difficult task.  To make this easier, the Bread for the World Institute compiles all their research into easy-to-understand formats. Bread for the World Institute is the research arm of Bread for the World. The institute focuses on research in several key areas including U.S. hunger and poverty, trade and agriculture, the Millennium Development Goals, maternal and child nutrition, immigration, global hunger and poverty, foreign assistance to reduce poverty, and climate change and hunger.  The staff work on policy analysis focused on hunger and strategies to end it. They use their research to educate world leaders, policymakers, and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad.

Within each research area, working papers can be found highlighting current research and findings happening. In addition, the institute is committed to the idea that development assistance does indeed work. They have a section of seven short essays telling stories and providing facts relating to the results of effective development aid. The essays are available for use by anyone from activists to politicians to Sunday school teachers. The essays serve to help individuals get a better picture of the fight against global hunger and extreme poverty.

The Bread for the World Institute also has a blog that provides current updates on what is going on within the fight to end world hunger and extreme poverty. The blog breaks down some of the information into a more comprehensible format. The goal of the institute and the research is to help people become informed and take action in the fight.

The 2013 Hunger Report is also produced by the Bread for the World Institute. The Hunger Report looks at issues surrounding global hunger such as malnutrition and food insecurity. The 2013 edition calls for a final push towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  Overall, the Bread for the World Institute is an excellent resource for information and facts on global hunger and on the fight to end it.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source:Bread for the World Institute,Hunger Report

HIV Testing in India

A recent study by Brown University’s Dr. Kartik Venkatesh and Yale University’s Dr. Jessica Becker has proposed a simple, but potentially highly effective practice that could save millions of Indian lives each year by making a single – but powerful – change in its approach to HIV management.

India’s current landscape in terms of HIV/AIDS is unique. While the rate of prevalence is relatively low – 0.3% – because of India’s massive population, this equates to a huge number of people living with HIV/AIDS (the third greatest in the world).

One of the biggest problems facing India now is the percentage of the population that doesn’t know it is infected. Carriers unaware of their status increase the risk of spreading the infection exponentially, as they’re unaware of the risks involved in sexual activity and are not actively taking crucial drugs which suppress the infection.

What the researchers at Brown and Yale have suggested is mass testing of the population every five years. This would be a huge undertaking, unprecedented in scale. Yet India is eager to keep its HIV problem well managed, as shown by their success in maintaining their rate as low as they have.

The strategy makes sense not only from a moral standpoint but also in terms of potential economic gain. Using a measurement system that measures the potential financial value from extending lives (and thus extending the potential of an individual to work and actively contribute to the country’s growth), estimates for the plane amount to around USD 1,900 per year per life saved – offering massive returns on an investment into the plan.

As yet unadopted, this is only a proposal based on research. Indian officials have yet to react, though many believe the political will is there to see this plan implemented. The fact that this strategy has been viewed favorably by publications such as The Economist and The Business Standard shows its true potential, and that foreign aid, strategically planned, can admirably combine financial benefits with benevolence.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: The Economist, Business Standard