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Legislative Update
World Habitat Day Will Be Celebrated in Washington D.C
Interaction 25th Anniversary Forum
2009 Water for the Poor Act Report
The IHC Organizes a Discussion about Slums at InterAction
IHC Staff Change
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Volume 3, Issue 3 August 2009
Legislative Update
Foreign Assistance Legislation

The IHC is supporting the following legislation:

New U.S. Foreign Assistance Act.  A new foreign assistance act is being drafted by the House Foreign Relations Committee to replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and is expected to be introduced in the fall. The IHC has met with Committee staff on several occasions and has suggested that the Act should recognize urbanization as a crosscutting development theme and highlight the importance of urban investments and slum improvement to poverty alleviation.
In the interim, Committee Chairman Howard Berman has introduced H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 which would direct the President to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy to further the U.S. foreign policy objectives of promoting global development and improving the monitoring, evaluation, and transparency of aid programs. To date 100 members of Congress have cosponsored the bill.      
SLUM Assistance Act (H.R. 1702). Representatives Brad Miller and David Price from North Carolina have introduced the Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM) Assistance Act of 2009 (H.R. 1702) along with Michael Castle, Jesse Jackson Jr, Gwen Moore and Keith Ellison. The Act calls upon the president to develop an affordable housing and sustainable development strategy which would establish and implement programs that foster sustainable urban development and expand access to basic affordable urban housing and essential urban services and infrastructure for the poor. It does not, however, authorize any additional funding. To date 20 Members of the House have cosponsored the bill. No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. 
Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524). On July 28, Senators John Kerry, Dick Luger, Bob Menendez, and Bob Corker, along with original co-sponsors Ben Cardin and Jim Risch, introduced the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009. Elements of the act include: the creation of positions for a Deputy Administrator and an Assistant Administrator of Policy and Strategic Planning at USAID and the reestablishment of a Bureau for Policy and Strategic Planning; the creation of an Independent Council on Research and Evaluation (CORE) to evaluate the impact of U.S. foreign assistance programs and multilateral assistance programs receiving U.S. funding; and the requirement that USAID mission directors be made responsible for the coordination of all U.S. development and humanitarian assistance in the field.
Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act  (S.624). Senator Richard Durbin, along with Senators Corker and Murray, has introduced the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (S.624). The legislation would place water at the forefront of U.S. development priorities, with a goal of providing 100 million people with first-time sustainable access to clean water and sanitation by 2015. It would target underdeveloped countries, foster global cooperation on research and technology, provide technical assistance and capacity building, provide seed money to deploy water and sanitation technologies, and strengthen the capacity of USAID and State to implement water and sanitation projects. To date 18 Senators have signed on to the bill and 65 Representatives have cosponsored a companion bill (H.R. 2030) introduced by Representative Blumenauer in the House.Act.
World Habitat Day Will Be Celebrated in Washington D.C.
The U. S. Will Host World Habitat Day on October 5, 2009
 
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Executive Director of UNHABITAT Anna Tibijuka have agreed that the U.S. will host World Habitat Day on October 5, 2009 in Washington D.C. World Habitat Day is intended to highlight the importance of decent shelter for all. The principal event will be held at the National Building Museum. Other related events are being organized by various groups in the week prior to and after October 5. The IHC is planning to help organize an event on October 7 focused on international shelter and urban development issues.

Interaction 25th Anniversary Forum


Peter Kimm speaks on Interaction Panel on Slums and Urban Poverty 

On July 7, IHC Chairman of the Board, Peter Kimm, spoke on a panel, "Tackling the Problems of Slums and Urban Poverty", at InterAction's  25th anniversary Forum, held July 7-9 in Washington, DC. Kimm highlighted the importance of comprehensive urban development strategies that strengthen property rights, encourage infrastructural development, increase access to financing, and build institutional capacity. He also stressed the need for such strategies to solicit and utilize local perspective and talent to ensure that programs can sustainably meet the specific and unique needs of each community. The Panel was moderated by Judith Hermanson, Senior VP of CHF International. Other speakers were Liz Blake, Senior VP for Advocacy, Government Affairs and General Counsel for Habitat for Humanity International and Chuck Setchell, Shelter, Settlements and Mitigation Advisor at USAID.       

2009 Report on the Simon Water for the Poor Act
State Department Issues 4th Annual Report on Implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act

In June, the State Department's Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science released the 2009 Report to Congress on the implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act. The Act, signed into law on December 1, 2005, makes access to safe water and basic sanitation for the poor a specific policy objective of U.S. foreign assistance. The Report can be downloaded at www. State.gov.
From the perspective the IHC, the Report is disappointing in its failure to adequately highlight the water and sanitation needs of the urban poor. The Water for the Poor Act requires that funds be distributed in a balanced manner between urban, peri-urban and rural areas, yet details about the exact amount of funding being used to bring water and sanitation to slums remain unclear. In addition, the Act requires USAID to develop a strategy to implement the Act; this strategy still has not been developed. Finally, according to data in the report, much of the progress made in 2008 to increase access to water and sanitation in the developing world occurred in a small number of countries. Two countries, Jordan and Pakistan, account for over half of all progress made in improved water access, and Jordan alone accounts for 66 percent of all progress in access to improved sanitation.

The IHC Organizes a Discussion about Slums at InterAction
Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka Meets with InterAction 
 
On June 22, the IHC helped organize a discussion for InterAction members focused on urbanization and the importance of slum improvement at InterAction's offices in Washington D.C. The featured speaker was Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Program.  Mrs. Tibaijuka discussed UN HABITAT programs and stressed the importance of multi-sector approaches to dealing with the problems of urban poverty and development. The meeting was chaired by Sam Worthington, Executive Director of InterAction.
IHC Staff Change
Nicole Weir joins IHC Staff
 
In June, Nicole Weir replaced Cecily Brewer as a policy and research associate for the IHC. Nicole recently graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, where she focused on international economics and African studies. Prior to joining the IHC, Nicole conducted research at a healthcare consulting firm, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Carter Center. She has worked and traveled extensively in East and Southern Africa and co-founded a nonprofit educational organization in northwestern Uganda in 2003. She has also worked closely with Habitat for Humanity International, leading several Global Village volunteer teams to various countries in southern Africa.
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