Gayle Smith’s Debut

The new USAID chief delivered her first substantial policy speech at a joint forum hosted by AEI and Brookings on Capitol Hill yesterday. “Our challenges going forward, I think, are scale and sustainability. We need to help economies become less dependent on aid by driving steady flows of domestic and private capital. And we need to craft what I would call “systemic” public private partnerships that achieve impact across supply chains, delivering results for development and changing business models for the better.” (Full Text, via USAID

Balkan Countries Shut All Doors to Migrants…”The four countries — Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia — have closed their borders to new migrants with the implicit backing of the European Union, which announced an agreement with Turkey on Tuesday to slow the flow of migrants. The deal has not been completed — that is supposed to happen at a summit meeting next week. But within hours of the announcement from Brussels, Slovenia and Serbia announced new restrictions on the entry of migrants.” (NYT

US Stepping Up Military Operations in Somalia…”U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted a joint U.S.-Somali helicopter raid against the terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia on Tuesday, according to U.S. defense officials. The latest U.S. raid comes just days after a series of airstrikes hit an al-Shabab training camp approximately 120 miles north of Mogadishu. The strikes, carried out in waves by both drones and fixed-wing aircraft, killed more than 150 al-Shabab fighters — an unprecedented number of casualties for the U.S.-led air campaign against the group.” (Reuters

Battle of the bulge…As India gets wealthier, its children are getting fatter, with the number of obese teenagers nearly doubling in the last five years, according to the country’s health minister. (AP


At least three police officers died when a car bomb exploded outside a tea shop in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said. (AFP

Hundreds rallied in Zimbabwe’s capital Wednesday over the shadowy disappearance of an opposition activist a year ago, as the United States led calls for a probe into “politically motivated violence”. (AFP

Thirty people have now died in the collapse of a five-story building under construction in an upmarket area of Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos, a rescue official said on Wednesday. (AFP

Lawyers who are mounting a challenge against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s re-election victory last month said on Wednesday thieves had broken into their offices and stolen crucial evidence they had intended to present in court. (Reuters

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe agreed to major reforms including compensation for evicted white farmers and a big reduction in public sector wages as the government tries to woo back international lenders, the finance minister said. (Reuters

Nearly two weeks after controversially winning a fifth term, it has emerged that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has signed another repressive law which restricts the operations of thousands of NGOs working in the country. (IPS

A Zimbabwean policeman has appeared in court after calling 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe “too old to rule” and accusing his wife of being a prostitute, local media reported Wednesday. (AFP

An interview with Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, after a US-Africa business summit in Addis Ababa in February. (allAfrica


A Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Wednesday it had exchanged prisoners with its Houthi opponents and also welcomed a pause in combat on the border, prompting hopes of a push to end the year-long war that has killed some 6,000 people. (Reuters

Morocco on Tuesday accused United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon of speaking out of turn during a visit to restart talks between Rabat and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front on disputed Western Sahara. (AFP

The U.N. special envoy for Syria said Wednesday he is hoping the warring sides will make progress within 10 days after peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition resume next week in Geneva. (AP

At least a quarter of a million children are living in besieged areas across Syria, Save the Children estimates, in conditions that the charity describes as living in an open-air prison. (Guardian

Two Palestinians opened fire on a bus and near Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday, seriously wounding one person, as an upsurge in attacks marred a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden. (AFP


A 15-year-old Indian girl who was raped and set on fire this week died Wednesday in the New Delhi hospital where she was being treated for severe burns, police said. (AP

US Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the United States would take action against Iran if long-range ballistic missile tests Tehran said it carried out were confirmed. (AFP

A deepening rift has opened between Myanmar’s powerful military and Aung San Suu Kyi, sources say, threatening the democracy leader’s prospects for forming a successful government even as parliament prepares to nominate presidential candidates on Thursday. (Reuters

A new law on charities in China being discussed at this year’s parliamentary session would ban aid groups from sponsoring activities that threaten national security, a summary of the draft of the legislation released on Wednesday shows. (Reuters

The Bangladesh central bank says it is working to recover some $100 million allegedly stolen by Chinese hackers from an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (AP

More than 500 delegates from over 50 countries attended the International Water Resources conference in Vientiane, Laos last week focusing on water resources and hydropower development across Asia. (VOA

Indian officials are launching a program to protect people from extreme heat in two high-risk regions, after a devastating heat wave killed at least 2,500 people across the country last year. (AP

President Benigno Aquino denied on Wednesday that Islamic State-linked militants are operating in the southern Philippines, describing armed groups in the area as mercenaries who are looking to raise funds from abroad. (Reuters

The Americas

Amnesty International and other non-governmental organizations on Tuesday criticized the official investigation into the murder of an environmental rights activist in Honduras, urging foreign experts to intervene. (Reuters

Heavy rains and high winds from a storm system moving north from Mexico flooded parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, leaving at least one person dead, officials said on Wednesday. (Reuters

Comments by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in support of waterboarding and the torture of terror suspects have damaged the United States’ global standing, a UN expert said Wednesday. (AFP

…and the rest

Doctors Without Borders says there are at least 40 pregnant women in Idomeni camp on the Macedonian border, and 40 percent of its population are children. (Reuters

Concerns over competing countries scrambling for resources such as oil, minerals and farmland have decreased recently due to lower commodity and food prices, a World Bank official said. (Reuters

Economic crises convulsing Russia, Ukraine and Belarus mean testing in areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has been cut or restricted, Greenpeace said, and people continue to eat and drink foods with dangerously high radiation levels. (Reuters


Development needs business but we must be free to criticise (Guardian

Bureaucracy is so hot right now (Chris Blattman

Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army Added by U.S., U.N. to Additional Sanctions Designations Lists (Enough

Names We’d Like To See When You Google ‘Women Changing The World’ (Goats and Soda

Want to Stop Polio? Vaccines are Crucial. But So Are Toilets. (UN Dispatch

Delhi’s air pollution is a classic case of environmental injustice (Guardian

Why Norway needs to get back it’s nutrition mojo (Development Horizons

Can women and girls be at the center of US humanitarian assistance? (Devex

How post-Ebola health system support needs to change (ODI

7 ways for women to challenge the powers that be (WhyDev

The Business of Peace in Africa (Reinventing Peace