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As is done in the article, Jeffrey Sachs and Bill Easterly are often placed at opposite ends of the spectrum of aid optimists and pessimists, but I doubt even Easterly would argue for a complete disavowal of all foreign aid. Both Kristof and Easterly herald global health as one sector in which aid has seen considerable success, pointing to CGD's publication, Millions Saved: Proven Successes in Global Health. But there are two sides to this story. On the one hand, we found 17 health interventions proven to be successful through rigorous evidence. On the other hand, these 17 cases comprise a very small fraction of the global health interventions attempted over the last half century. So you might ask, what about the rest? Did they work? The truth is, it's hard to know. Poor or non-existent evaluation of the impact of these health interventions leaves us questioning. And the evidence base for other social sectors is equally weak, if not worse.
Kristof conveys Easterly’s suggestion to addressing this problem:
"Perhaps the aid agencies should each set aside a portion of their budgets (such as the part now wasted on self-evaluation) to contribute to an international independent evaluation group made up of staff trained in the scientific method from the rich and poor countries, who will evaluate random samples of each aid agency's efforts."
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.