Posted on January 4, 2007
U.S. Philanthropy Raises Its International Profile
PND Special Issue: 2006: Year in Review - U.S. Philanthropy Raises Its International Profile
From tackling tuberculosis, black fever, hookworm and sleeping sickness — diseases that overwhelmingly afflict people in developing countries — to funding microfinance initiatives, promoting a new "green revolution" in Africa, and battling the spread of HIV/AIDS, 2006 proved to be a memorable year for U.S. funders working internationally. As it has for a number of years, the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation led the charge, pledging $68 million to develop vaccines and treatments for diseases that afflict hundreds of millions of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; reiterating its support, to the tune of $46 million, for the fight against intestinal illnesses (considered by some to be one of the most serious and overlooked global public health problems confronting the developing world); and committing an additional $23 million to the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS in India, which has the highest number of HIV cases in the world.
Late in the year, individuals and organizations engaged in that fight received good news when the William J. Clinton Foundation announced that it had brokered deals with two Indian pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of HIV/AIDS drugs for children, making the lifesaving drugs more accessible worldwide.
Just a few months earlier, the former president was able to declare the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative a major success, as the second-annual gathering of luminaries from the worlds of business, politics, and philanthropy generated a record-setting $7.3 billion in commitments. Highlights of the conference included Virgin CEO Richard Branson’s $3 billion commitment to new biofuel initiatives designed to combat global warming and First Lady Laura Bush’s $16.4 million pledge to provide safe drinking water to a thousand communities in sub-Saharan Africa through the installation of PlayPumps, an innovative water pump that doubles as a merry-go-round for children.
Another development that received considerable attention during the year was the decision by the Gates Foundation and the New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation to join forces promote a new "Green Revolution" in Africa. With an initial investment of $100 million from Gates and $50 million from Rockefeller, the partnership, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), will support the Program for Africa's Seed Systems (PASS). PASS, in turn, will mount a five-year, $43 million effort to improve the availability and variety of seeds that can produce higher yields in the often harsh conditions of sub-Saharan Africa. It also will invest $20 million to provide graduate-level training in African universities for the next generation of crop breeders and agricultural scientists; $24 million to ensure that improved crop varieties are produced and distributed; $37 million to establish at least 10,000 small agro-dealers; and provide $26 million for a new organization based in Nairobi, Kenya, to monitor and evaluate PASS projects. The $150 million was described as a "first investment," and both foundations were careful to stress that success will take decades to achieve.
A similar note of caution was struck by financier-turned-philanthropist George Soros, who in September pledged $50 million to New York City-based Millennium Promise to help eliminate poverty in dozens of African villages. While the gift was a departure for Soros, who has devoted the bulk of his philanthropic investments to fostering democracy and "open societies" in Central and Eastern Europe, the idea, he noted, was to build a successful, replicable model that could be adopted throughout the developing world. "Most of the poverty in the world is due to bad governance," he said. "And whether the project can overcome that is a big question. If it succeeds in five of ten countries and can be scaled up, that would be a tremendous achievement."
Gates Foundation Expands Global Libraries Initiative (12/04/06)
Clinton Foundation Brokers Deal for AIDS Drugs (12/01/06)
OneWorld Health Receives $46 Million From Gates Foundation (11/02/06)
Gates Foundation Pledges $23 Million to HIV-Prevention Efforts in India (10/26/06)
Clinton Global Initiative Closes With $7.3 Billion in Commitments (9/26/06)
Gates Foundation Commits $68 Million to Combat Tropical Diseases (9/18/06)
George Soros Pledges $50 Million to Millennium Promise (9/14/06)
Gates, Rockefeller Foundations Form Alliance to Spur ‘Green Revolution’ in Africa (9/14/06)
Cures for Neglected Diseases Require Funding, Report Finds (4/27/06)
Clinton Foundation and Indian Government to Train Nurses in HIV/AIDS Care (2/23/06)