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Payouts for Perils: Why Disaster Aid Is Broken, and How Catastrophe Insurance Can Help to Fix It

Payouts for Perils: Why Disaster Aid is Broken, and How Catastrophe Insurance Can Help to Fix It


Disaster aid is often too little, too late. Pressure on aid budgets is prompting donors to find ways to handle more crises with less funding. But the current model of discretionary, ex-post disaster aid is increasingly insufficient for these growing needs, and does little to create incentives for governments in affected countries and donors to invest in risk reduction and resilience. This framing paper sets out how the global community can do better.

Global Health, Aid and Corruption: Can We Escape the Scandal Cycle?


Global health action has been remarkably successful at saving lives and preventing illness in many of the world’s poorest countries. This is a key reason that funding for global health initiatives has increased in the last twenty years. Nevertheless, financial support is periodically jeopardized when scandals erupt over allegations of corruption, sometimes halting health programs altogether.


How Does OPIC Balance Risks, Additionality, and Development? Proposals for Greater Transparency and Stoplight Filters


As the U.S. government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds when commercial funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Its mandate is to mobilize private capital to help address critical development challenges and to advance U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. However, balancing risks, financial needs, and development benefits comes with tradeoffs.

Creating a Better Candidate Pool for the Millennium Challenge Corporation


The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was established to provide large-scale grant funding to poor, well-governed countries to support their efforts to reduce poverty and generate economic growth.  However, the statutory definition of which countries are “poor” for the purposes of MCC candidacy is inadequate.  Based solely on GNI per capita with a rigid graduation threshold, it does not portray a clear picture of broad-based well-being in a country. Using a new, comprehensive country-level dataset of median consumption/income, the authors explore the merits and limitations of such a measure and suggest how it might be applied as an additional determinant of MCC candidacy.


Inside the Portfolio of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation


The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the US government's development finance institution.  Balancing risks, financial needs, and development benefits is riven with numerous tensions, statutory restrictions, and tradeoffs.  This raises an important policy question - how well does OPIC’s actual portfolio balance these competing goals?  Since much data about the OPIC portfolio is unavailable in an accessible format, we built the OPIC Scraped Portfolio database to address this question. 


Can GMOs Deliver for Africa?


The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been raging for twenty years and there is still more heat than light around the topic. While some developing countries have embraced the technology, much of Africa has followed the European Union’s precautionary approach.  While not a panacea, GMOs could be part of a new green revolution in Africa if governments address the policy and institutional weaknesses that prevented Africa from participating in the first one, and if GM technology continues to develop.

How Much “Mega” in the Mega-Regional TPP and TTIP: Implications for Developing Countries


There is no question that the “mega-regional” trade deals in the Pacific and across the Atlantic are big. If completed and implemented, they will cover a large portion of global trade and investment. This paper examines the TPP text to identify provisions that are more or less development-friendly, especially for Vietnam, which is the poorest signatory to the deal by far. It concludes with with recommendations for US and EU policymakers that would mitigate potential negative effects for developing countries and for the multilateral trading system, including rules of origin that minimize trade diversion.

Anti-Corruption Strategies in Foreign Aid: From Controls to Results


Corruption is an obstacle to social and economic progress in developing countries yet we still know very little about the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts and their impact on development impact. This essay looks at 25 years of efforts by foreign aid agencies to combat corruption and proposes a new strategy which could leverage existing approaches by directly incorporating information on development results.

Assessing the US Feed the Future Initiative: A New Approach to Food Security?

Data on Feed the Future's results are just becoming available, and there is strikingly little independent analysis of the program. While we cannot yet assess the impact on poverty alleviation or improved nutrition, we can assess how Feed the Future performs against its stated objective of offering a new, more effective approach to food security. The integrated agriculture and nutrition approach emphasizes increased selectivity in aid allocations along with country ownership and capacity building to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the initiative’s impacts. We find the initiative has led to an increase in the share of overall US assistance for agriculture and nutrition, and that the Obama administration has increasingly concentrated this aid in selected focus countries. 

Balancing Financial Integrity with Financial Inclusion: The Risk-Based Approach to “Know Your Customer”


Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion as a policy objective, regulators have endorsed the use of a risk-based approach (RBA) towards know-your-customer (KYC) requirements aimed at strengthening financial integrity.  This paper considers applications of the RBA in domestic banking, mobile money and international financial transactions against the features of a rigorous RBA where both the rigor and level of due diligence and the structure and balance of incentives should be proportional to the balance of risks, including that of exclusion. Recommendations include greater attention to national identification systems and to encourage the use of digital technology to shift from cash-cash wire transfers to more transparent account-account transactions between identified holders.


Alternatives to HIPC for African Debt-Distressed Countries: Lessons from Myanmar, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe


Despite the success of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) in reducing the debt burdens of low-income countries, at least eleven Sub-Saharan African countries are currently in, or face a high risk of, debt distress. A few of those currently at risk include countries that have been excluded from traditional debt relief frameworks. For countries outside the HIPC process, this paper lays out the (formidable) steps for retroactive HIPC inclusion, concluding with lessons for countries seeking exceptional debt relief treatment.