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New Approach To Development Embraces IT

New Approach to Development Embraces Information Technology

The United States is embracing a new approach to international development that involves expanded use of information technology and more private-public partnerships.

The Global Development Commons (GDC), launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will use technology to allow aid donors and recipients to communicate better and to find needed information online from such sources as libraries and databases.

It will involve tools like computers connected to the Internet that are located in cities and rural areas and informal online interchanges and conferences, creating "a comprehensive network accessible to all," according to a USAID fact sheet.

The GDC "democratizes" information and allows individuals and organizations to ask questions and look for new partners, according to the fact sheet.

The GDC is intended to be a "community of continuous and real-time exchange, collaboration, partnership and action" among public and private donors, agencies, nongovernmental organizations, governments and civil society -- "all operating as equals," Henrietta Fore, USAID administrator and director of U.S. foreign aid, said in a November press release.

USAID recently hosted the first Global Development Commons forum to discuss ways in which technology and increased public-private partnerships can benefit development.

With USAID, other U.S. government entities to be involved in GDC include the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the departments of State and Defense and Congress.

The effort initially will involve technology firms Microsoft and Cisco, food giant Kraft and financial service company Goldman Sachs.

Although USAID is launching and publicizing the GDC and will monitor its implementation, the initiative is intended as a "shared responsibility" of all who use it, the agency said.

"Public-private partnerships unite the unique skills and resources of each partner and apply them to development challenges for sustainable solutions," Fore said at a meeting of the Voluntary Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid in October.


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