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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.

 

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. 

2018 Aid Transparency Index

UK Aid: Which Departments are Missing Their Transparency Target?

The UK’s 2015 National Aid Strategy committed all departments to be “Very Good” or “Good” on Publish What You Fund’s Aid Transparency Index (“the Index”). We look at a leading indicator of transparency and conclude that, beyond DFID, progress has been almost non-existent. With a spending review to set budgets to 2022 expected next year, departments should take the last chance to step-up their performance and HM Treasury should not renew their spending if they don’t.

UK aid supplies on pallets

How Should UK Development Finance Count as Aid?

The UK Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt spoke powerfully last week about the opportunities for expanding investment in developing countries, including through CDC, the UK’s development finance institution. But a new proposal to count the reinvestment of returns on development finance towards the aid target would contradict the principle underpinning the rules on measuring aid, reduce the UK’s aid effort, and create volatility for other aid (and HM Treasury).

What I Want to Hear from the UK Development Secretary: How to Improve Whole-of-Government Aid Spending

Successive governments have long felt that UK Department for International Development (DFID) needs to work better with the rest of Whitehall. There have been efforts to join up better in government, sometimes successfully, but there remains a feeling in Whitehall that DFID is too tribal, too protective of its budget, and unwilling to roll up its sleeves to contribute to the government’s wider priorities including security, economic opportunities, and influence.

What Does UK Law Say on Aid?: How New Development Secretary Mordaunt Can Meet her Aid Effectiveness Pledge

The new UK Secretary of State for International Development has committed to “find new ways to help other departments make their spend more effective” as one of her five pledges for UK aid. Here we look at why the law underpinning the UK’s aid expenditure is weaker on poverty and gender equality outside of the Department for International Development (DFID) and identify four things the government should do to improve aid effectiveness.