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The UK Department for International Development is getting down to real business on adopting results-based approaches to aid. It will allocate future resources across country and regional programs on the basis of “results offers”, as explained here. (DFID spends annually almost 3 billion pounds, about $4.5 billion, on these programs – exclusive of its allocations for humanitarian assistance and for support of multilateral programs.) DFID recently wrapped up one step of the process, in which all country and regional teams set out their “results offers” for the period 2011/12 – 2014/5 (“indicative results teams proposed to deliver” ) for review and evaluation (and some sort of ranking we assume) by internal advisers and a panel including external experts. The reviews were asked to assess the extent to which the results offers are “realistic and evidence-based”. Now ministers will consider them as they determine their aid allocations for the next four years. According to an earlier press release the results offers will cover about 90 countries.
This is good news. An agency and its political leadership are taking seriously the call for innovation in aid (through more results-based approaches) and are building on the ideas of country staff (who we hope are consulting with their counterparts in recipient country governments on the results offers). We hope that DFID will take this process one step further by publishing the proposed and final allocations, and information about the extent to which the final allocations actually reflect decisions about the merits of the results offers. (It’s ok if they don’t fully – the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation board has some discretion in treatment of country eligibility, but is transparent about why it selects the countries it does).
The bilateral review of the country and regional teams’ results offers is due out by March 2011. We look forward to seeing the ideas, understanding the process – itself a major innovation – and, over time, evaluating the actual country and regional allocations against initial allocations, and against any subsequent adjustments (that are likely to make sense) as results on the ground vindicate or not the initial allocations.
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.
Aid agencies are investing more in energy projects than ever before, but will they succeed? Not if they ignore the key obstacle to progress: governments that choose the status quo over serious reforms.
There is a lot of chatter about the reasons for Britain’s relative success in the Olympic games. This transformation in Britain’s sporting performance has generated a raft of tortured analogies with various non-sporting challenges, such as industrial and education policies (on which Britain’s performance is rather less stellar). So I’m leaping on the bandwagon with two lessons for international development.
I’ve been working on the idea of Cash on Delivery (COD) for some years under the hypothesis that if we could define good outcome indicators, someone would step forward to buy them. So what would happen if an organization came forward with a plan to supply a verified outcome in return for a set unit payment after delivery? In a sense, this is what Dispensers for Safe Water, an Evidence Action program, is currently doing.