Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

A woman raises her hand to speak at a community meeting in Aurangabad, India. Photo by Simone D. McCourtie, World Bank

Money Can’t Buy You “Country Ownership”

Efforts to make aid more effective in the last two decades have given prominence to "country ownership." With true country ownership, aid is supposed to follow the priorities of recipient countries, rather than those of the funders. Yet funders have their priorities too. So recipients and funders have sought to resolve this potential conflict through policy dialogue and alignment of priorities. My new paper, "What is 'Country Ownership'?" explores this basic problem using a formal model to unravel three interrelated factors affecting country ownership.

Visualization breaking down where most aid goes

Focusing UK Research Aid Where It Matters

The UK’s development agency, DFID, has stated that it views research as the best way to spend aid and that it intends to place high quality research central to its aid strategy. In a new paper, we find significant problems with the way that UK aid is being used to back research: a huge ramp-up in support has largely gone to fund opaque, unfocused research in UK universities. There are better approaches.

Flowchart showing an overview of the policy cycle, and where ICAI fits in and can influence decisions.

Results vs. Claims: Strengthening the UK’s Aid Watchdog

ICAI has just entered its third four-year phase. ICAI is a major asset in ensuring aid is well-spent. Having reviewed ICAI’s prior work, we think ICAI could should focus more on “results claims”—that is, whether the estimates of expected benefits that underpin decision-making by Ministers are well-evidenced.

ICAI grades for spending directly evaluated (Depts reviewed and >1% UK aid)

How Effective Is UK Aid? Assessing the Last 8 Years of Spending

In our new policy paper, we take advantage of the fact that the impact of UK aid is independently assessed by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). Looking back over 8 years and 65 graded assessments, even with a focus on riskier projects, we find that almost 80 percent of UK aid assessed was well spent. With a spending review on the horizon, HM Treasury will be looking closely at departmental performance and should use ICAI’s findings to shape their allocations. 

Africa CEO Forum

UK Aid Watchdog to CDC: Time to be More Accountable, More Transparent on Development Finance

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) issued a report this week on the performance of CDC–the UK’s development finance institution–in low-income and fragile states. ICAI gives CDC an Amber/Red rating on its performance, which means “unsatisfactory achievement in most areas, with some positive elements.” In particular, the commission says that CDC has not done enough to monitor its performance. 

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