IHC Newsletter
In This Issue
IHC Water and Sanitation Activities
IHC Presentation in Canada
IHC Advocacy Program for FY 2009
Foreign Assistance Reform
IHC Seeks Strategic Advice
Support Growing for UN Millennium Development Goals
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Volume 2, Issue 2 July 2008
IHC Water and Sanitation Activities
IHC Advocates for the Poor in Africa

Congress approved $300 million in FY 2008 funding for water and sanitation for the poor in furtherance of the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act. The IHC has been actively involved in trying to make sure that USAID uses the funds as Congress intended. The IHC has met with the USAID Water Team and other USAID officials and policy makers in the State Department to discuss the importance of urban water and sanitation investments that will directly benefit the poor and slum dwellers. In April the IHC participated in a State Department discussion at the Foreign Service Institute to discuss what should be the elements of a U.S. Government water strategy. The IHC regularly exchanges views with other groups interested in water and sanitation including Water Advocates, The Millennium Water Alliance, WaterAid, Care and the World Wildlife Fund. The IHC participated in review meetings and provided comments for a policy paper, "Global Water Futures: A Roadmap for Future U.S. Policy Engagement",  prepared by the Center for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS). The State Department issued its 2008 Report on the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act in June. The IHC concluded that in planning water investments the Report does not adequately consider the requirements of the Water for the Poor Act; that the State Department and USAID have not developed a clear cut strategy for meeting the objectives of the Water for the Poor Act and quantifiable results measures for using the Water for the Poor funds are lacking. The IHC plans to communicate its views to the State Department and USAID. To download the 2008 Water for the Poor Report Click here.

IHC Presentation in Canada
Bob Dubinsky and Larry Hannah Speak to the CREA Board

Bob Dubinsky, IHC CEO, and Larry Hannah, IHC consultant and former economist at the World Bank, made a presentation to the Board of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), a founding member of the IHC which represents over 90,000 Canadian REALTORS®. The meeting was held in Ottawa on June 17. Dubinsky and Hannah briefed the Board on IHC activities and encouraged the Board to develop an advocacy program in Canada to encourage its foreign assistance agencies to give greater attention to housing and slum improvement issues. Hannah noted that Canada has developed many successful real estate policies and practices that have application internationally and that housing and slum upgrading ought to be a significant component of Canada's foreign assistance program.

IHC Advocacy Program for FY 2009 
IHC Five Legislative Priorities for FY 2009

In FY 2009 the IHC adopted five priorities for its advocacy program. Four involve legislative actions by the U.S. Congress and one is focused on Canada's foreign assistance programs. The priorities are:

  • Increase U.S. funding for water and sanitation projects in developing countries. The IHC supports increased funding for the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act from the current level of $300 million to $500 million in FY 2009. The IHC further supports increased used of these funds for projects that bring water and sanitary services to urban slums.

  • Increase U.S. Government support for secure tenure. The IHC, recognizing the lack of secure tenure in informal/slum communities, supports housing and land tenure programs. The U.S. Government should set specific goals for increasing access of the poor to secure tenure.

  • Improve the capacity of USAID to implement effective foreign aid programs that serve the poor. The IHC supports the President's FY 2009 budget proposal to increase the number of USAID Foreign Service Officers by 300. The IHC also recommends that a significant number of Officers be qualified to design and manage housing, water/sanitation, and slum upgrading programs, and that a senior position be created to direct implementation of the Water for the Poor Act.

  • Support for U.N. Habitat. The IHC supports funding in the amount of $1.25 million for U.N. Habitat (up from $1 million in FY 2008). Habitat, as the sole U.N. organization concerned with human settlements, plays an important role in focusing worldwide attention on housing conditions in the developing world.

  • Canadian Foreign Assistance. The IHC is assisting CREA in assessing the awareness and involvement of Canadian foreign assistance departments and agencies in supporting housing as an engine of growth domestically and internationally. Subsequent efforts will focus on developing specific recommendations to increase Canada's capacity to use housing policy more effectively.

Foreign Assistance Reform

InterAction Proposal to Establish a Department for Global and Human Development

There is a growing interest in promoting the reform of the U.S. government's foreign assistance agencies and programs in Congress and among policy makers. For example, an InterAction policy paper argues "the U.S. Government's system for allocating and delivering foreign assistance is badly broken and must be repaired once again." InterAction concludes "The U.S. Agency for International Development, the agency currently responsible for U.S. foreign assistance is weak, poorly organized, and has been demoralized and eviscerated by severe staff shortages." Proposals to reform foreign assistance have been developed by such organizations as InterAction, Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution. The IHC is actively reviewing the different proposals and when appropriate will make its views known. To read the InterAction policy memo, "Why the U.S. Needs a Department of Global and Human Development" click here.

IHC Seeks Strategic Advice
IHC Convenes Meeting of an Advisory Group at the Aspen Institute

As part of its efforts to refine its mission statement, broaden its coalition and raise additional funds the IHC sponsored a discussion at the Aspen Institute on May 1. The purpose of the meeting was to bring participants up to date on IHC efforts and accomplishments over the past three years and to solicit input about how best to expand the organization and its influence in advocating for housing and urban issues on the world's development agenda.  Among the organizations represented were: UN Habitat, AECOM, Water Advocates, Woodrow Wilson Center, Urban Land Institute, Habitat for Humanity, Brookings Institution, Cities Alliance and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The group encouraged the IHC to be strategically focused, try to humanize as much as possible the mission statement of the IHC, link housing issues to the problems of urbanization and encourage governments and donors to adopt holistic community based approaches to housing improvement and slum upgrading.

Support Growing for UN Millennium Development Goals
Congress Is Considering a Global Poverty Act

The so-called Millennium Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations in 2000.  The IHC has a particular interest in strengthening worldwide commitment to these important goals, as several of them directly reflect the principles of the IHC:

  • Improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
  • Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than $1/day by 2015 (compared to 1990).
  • Reduce by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

There is a broad movement among non-government and faith-based organizations to promote adherence to these broad principles on the world development agenda.  A movement is now afoot in Congress to more formally incorporate these principles into U.S. foreign assistance programs and policies.  The Global Poverty Act, which now has 24 sponsors, calls on the Administration to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for promoting the reduction of global poverty in coordination with the specific Millennium Development Goals. The IHC will continue to lend its support to advocacy organizations, such as the One Campaign and Interaction, in their efforts to promote this legislation. To read about the Millennium Development Goals go to www.un.org/millenniumgoals.