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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.

 

Linking Aid to Results: Why Are Some Development Workers Anxious? (Guest post by Owen Barder)

I am pleased to share with our readers at Owen’s request this discussion of Cash on Delivery Aid, which appeared yesterday on his blog, Owen Abroad.

Linking Aid to Results: Why Are Some Development Workers Anxious?

By Owen Barder

The Center for Global Development is working on an idea which they call Cash on Delivery aid, in which donors make a binding commitment to developing country governments to provide aid according to the outputs that the government delivers. I think this is a good idea in principle, and hope that it can be tested to see whether and how it could work in practice. The UK Conservative party have said in their Green Paper that if they are elected they will use Cash on Delivery to link aid to results.

Linking aid more closely to results is attractive from many different perspectives. My own view is that linking aid directly to results will help to change the politics of aid for donors. Many of the most egregiously ineffective behaviours in aid are a direct result of donors’ (very proper) need to show to their taxpayers how money has been used. Because traditional aid is not directly linked to results, donors end up focusing on inputs and micromanaging how aid is spent instead, with all the obvious consequences for transactions costs, poor alignment with developing countries systems and priorities and lack of harmonisation. If we could link aid more directly to results, I think donors will be freed from many of the political pressures they currently face to deliver aid badly; and it would be politically easier to defend large increases in aid budgets.

Wanted Now: A Pragmatic and Visionary Leader for the Improved UN Entity for Women

This is a joint post with Geeta Rao Gupta.

In all of last week’s hoopla in NYC with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Clinton Global Initiative in full swing, news about an improved, composite U.N. entity for women (still to be formally named) went under the radar. The idea for consolidating several U.N. agencies into one has been in the works for about three years, but was finally adopted just two weeks ago. The resolution merely approves the creation of the entity and states that the Secretary General should announce the final plan for the structure and mission of the agency at next year’s UNGA. Now that’s classic UN style—to take one entire year to figure out what has already been figured out! It’s time for urgent and quick next steps, which if implemented smartly (not just politically) can make all the difference.

The Illusion of Equality

CGD recently posted my working paper, The Illusion of Equality, co-authored by Martina Viarengo. The motivations behind the paper go back to when I was a kid. When people were coming to our house, my mother would put us five children to work trying to clean up because “company” was coming. And when company was there, we were put on our best behavior (or out of sight).

G8 in Italy Should Launch Global Fund for Education

This post also appeared on the Huffington Post on July 7, 2009.

Leaders of the worlds’ eight richest countries gather this week in Italy for the annual G8 summit. Crowding their agenda will be the financial crisis, climate change, and food security. Education should be high on the agenda, too. Others agree with me: three prominent moral leaders have written to the G8 urging them live up to their prior promises to ensure that every girl and boy has a chance for an education.