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.

 

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.

Escaping the Scandal Cycle: Three Ways to Improve Funder Response

Health aid pays for life-saving medicines, products, and services in the poorest countries in the world. Funding for such uses needs to be smooth and uninterrupted. But when fraud is detected, funds are subject to sudden stops and starts—the result of a sequence of events set off by the scandal cycle in health aid. We examine this idea in a new CGD policy paper.

Impact Evaluation: How the Wonkiest Subject in the World Got Traction

“3ie has made my job much easier.” This is what we heard last month from a high-ranking government official in Africa, referring to the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), and it made us very proud. Creating 3ie was the outcome of the Evaluation Gap Working Group that we led along with Nancy Birdsall to address the limited number of rigorous impact evaluation of public policies in developing countries. As CGD celebrates its 15th year, it is worth considering what made that working group so successful, the obstacles we confronted, and the work that still remains to be done.

A New Anti-Corruption Strategy: Control Less, Verify Results More

I’ve been reading news of corruption scandals in Brazil with a great deal of sadness. I lived in Brazil during its return to democracy and experienced first-hand the hope and optimism that came with that transition. In a recent policy paper, I argue that decisions about funding projects in other countries should depend more on the results achieved by those countries than by formal actions meant to control corruption. 

Funders Worry About “Double Counting” – but What About “Double Demanding”?

In the world of international aid, performance payments are a hot topic. But when it comes to signing performance payment agreements, most funders have been reticent. One of the reasons is a fear of “Double Counting” – paying once for investments to achieve outcomes and a second time when the outcomes are delivered. This concern ignores the complexity of achieving development goals and the intangible assets invested by recipient countries. When funders do agree to performance agreements, they end up ignoring the burden on recipients of “Double Demanding” – disbursing when outcomes are achieved and then setting restrictions on the use of those funds. All this confusion gets in the way of designing effective aid programs.

Payment by Results: One Size Doesn't Fit All

In recent years, donors have been making greater use of performance-based payment approaches to fund development programs. The UK Department for International Development, using the broader term being used across the UK government, has added “Payment by Results” (PbR) to the development lexicon.

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