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I was dismayed to learn recently that school-based deworming in Kenya -- one of the most celebrated and cost-effective successes in global development in 2009 -- was not repeated in 2010. The story of how that happened offers an object lesson in the gritty difficulties of translating evidence into policy.
I am delighted to announce that Owen Barder has joined the Center for Global Development as Senior Fellow and as Director for Europe, with responsibility for broadening and deepening CGD engagement with the European development community on policies and practices that matter for the world’s poor.
I was excited to see the announcement that the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are partnering to support “agricultural research projects to help small farmers increase their yields and incomes.” But I was also puzzled.
Last week UK Secretary of International Development Andrew Mitchell released the outcomes of DFID’s bilateral and multilateral aid reviews.
We were glad to see that the published documents on the bilateral aid review included country summaries that list the funds allocated to each of 27 countries and three regional programs where DFID plans to work in the next 4 years, and the key results these funds are expected to produce. These are likely the highlights of the “results offers” that country and regional teams submitted at the end of last year (as we discussed in this blog).
This May will mark the five-year anniversary of CGD’s Evaluation Gap Working Group’s final report, "When Will We Ever Learn: Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation". The report noted a large gap in evidence about whether development programs actually work and recommended creating an independent international collaboration to promote more and better impact evaluations to close this gap. The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) was formed as a result of this recommendation. The report also stressed the need for countries, both donors and recipients, to make larger commitments towards high-quality evaluation work. These commitments, it argued, should include supporting 3ie financially, as well as generating and applying knowledge from impact evaluations of their own development programs.
Browsing through Wikileaks to try to understand what the fuss was all about, Alan came on an interesting cable (10Beijing367) about African views on possible cooperation between China and Western donors on aid to Africa. According the summary of a cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing, reporting on the views of African diplomats stationed there:
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.
The Guardian’s Madeleine Bunting recently slammed Andrew Mitchell’s (Secretary of State for International Development, UK) commitment to results-based aid. Here’s what I had to say about her somewhat cavalier critique: (See also Mitchell’s response, where my comment is posted.)