Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

Recognizing and Rewarding the Best Development Professionals

This blog post is co-authored with Martin Ravallion, who has been the Director of the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group for several years and is currently Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Bank. The blog is cross-posted on the World Bank site here.

These days there is a lot of discussion within development organizations and governments across the globe (including the World Bank) about how to assure a greater emphasis on development impact. It would no doubt help if senior management gave stronger verbal signals on the ultimate goals of the institution, and more actively supported staff to attain those goals. But such “low-powered incentives” have been tried before, and the problems seem to persist.

Impact Evaluations Everywhere: What’s a Small NGO to Do?

I frequently get inquiries from organizations that recognize the importance of rigorous evaluation and yet aren’t quite sure how they can do it. They see the growing number of random assignment or quasi-experimental studies and are attracted to the apparent objectivity and relative certainty of quantitative studies, but they are often reticent to dive into those approaches. Sometimes organizations have reasonable concerns about costs, lack of expertise, or the applicability of such approaches to the questions they care about.

Massive Corruption Revisited: The Value of Portfolio Estimates

Corruption in aid programs is a cyclical topic. Every scandal generates headlines, political reaction, tighter controls and then, usually, silence until the next scandal erupts. Such cycles are not helpful and we never really find out if such corruption is large and systematic or small and isolated.

A Review of the U.S. Government's Review of Its Haiti Quake Response

This post is joint with Julie Walz.

Last week, USAID finally published an external review on its activities in Haiti: “Independent Review of the U.S. Government Response to the Haiti Earthquake”. The report is dated March 28, 2011. Yes, 2011. It took over a year to post the document on the USAID website. The review was conducted by MacFadden and Associates – which operates an $80M Indefinite Quantity Contract from USAID. There are some frank and enlightening assessments of USG response and coordination, but very little discussion of aid accountability.

Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone?

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act (H.R. 1016) was approved by a voice vote in the Senate this week, almost a year after it was passed by the House. The Act “directs the President to report to Congress on the status of post-earthquake humanitarian, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti” including progress of programs, alignment with the Haitian government priorities, and coordination among U.S. agencies and other donors.

New Documents Reveal the Cost of “Ending Poverty” in a Millennium Village: At Least $12,000 Per Household

Documents recently made public by the UK government reveal the cost of poverty reduction in the Millennium Villages Project, a self-described "solution to extreme poverty" in African villages created by Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs. The project costs at least US$12,000 per household that it lifts from poverty—about 34 times the annual incomes of those households.

Impact Evaluation and Political Economy: What Does the “Conditional” in “Conditional Cash Transfers” Accomplish?

Some economists, with their recent fad for "evaluation", have managed to get themselves deeply confused about what the "conditional" in "conditional cash transfer" (CCT) is really about. They often interpret the "effectiveness" of CCTs relative to the action/behavior/outcome that was conditioned on—for example, the impact of schooling-conditioned transfers on enrollment rates.

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