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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.

 

Replenishing IDA’s Coffers: Time to Get Creative

This afternoon, the World Bank’s shareholders will wrap up their latest discussions about replenishing IDA’s financial coffers – which provides cheap loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries.  The largest donors seem more or less content with the new package of policy reforms.  They have agreed that IDA should focus even more on evaluating project effectiveness and have greater flexibility in dealing with the most fragile countries.  Nothing particularly earth shattering – and definitely nothing sexy (even for us propeller heads).  Then again, IDA is already one of the most

When Rigorous Impact Evaluation Is Not a Luxury: Scrutinizing the Millennium Villages

A version of this blog also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Back in 2004 a major new development project started in Bar-Sauri, Kenya. This Millennium Village Project (MVP) seeks to break individual village clusters free from poverty with an intense, combined aid package for agriculture, education, health, and infrastructure. The United Nations and Columbia University began the pilot phase in Bar-Sauri and have extended it to numerous village clusters in nine other countries. They hope to scale up the approach across much of Africa.

But wait: Before we consider blanketing a continent with any aid intervention, we have to know whether or not it works. For example, we have to know if different things have happened in Bar-Sauri than have happened in nearby Uranga, which was not touched by the project. And we have to know if those differences will last. This matters because aid money is scarce, and the tens of millions slated for the MVP are tens of millions that won’t be spent on other efforts.

Here I discuss a new research paper that I wrote with Gabriel Demombynes of the World Bank.

A Victory for LDCs in the EU

Finally!! After years of debating changes to rules of origin to make it easier for developing countries, especially the least-developed among them, to export duty-free under preference programs, the European Union is finally set to act at the end of this month.

Too Big to Succeed? Why (W)Hole-of-Government Cannot Work for U.S. Development Policy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

While talking beautifully about its development plans, the Administration is really not living up to its rhetoric of elevating development to equal status with diplomacy and defense, the so-called 3Ds. If development is really such an equal partner alongside defense and diplomacy, why is USAID increasingly a minor subcomponent of the State department? The promises of making USAID the “world’s premier development agency” are ringing embarrassingly hollow. How can an agency be influential when it doesn’t even control its own budget or set its own strategic priorities? Even in areas where USAID has traditionally been very strong—disaster relief and food security, for instance—the State Department has taken over. (The Feed-the-Future initiative is effectively directed by State and, despite early promises that USAID would lead on Haitian earthquake relief and reconstruction, it was recently leaked that a State coordinator is running the show.) And it should hardly be surprising that USAID is getting its lunch eaten in the interagency when it had no head for a year and, nearly two years in, still has less than half of its top managers on the job.

But what if the problems of the 3Ds aren’t really about the staff vacancies, the battle of Washington egos, and an empire-building State Department? What if the real problem is that the much-vaunted “whole-of-government” approach is fundamentally unworkable in the United States?

India Emerges as an Aid Donor

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

Last month, the Indian Express reported that India might not accept aid from the United Kingdom after April 2011. India has been the largest single recipient of British aid, receiving more than €800m (about $1.25b) since 2008. This announcement is perhaps symbolic of the fine line that India is walking between being a “developed” and “developing” country. It is the eleventh largest economy in the world, growing 8-9% annually. But it is also home to one-third of the world’s poor—there are more poor people in India than in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nonetheless, over the past decade, India has quietly transitioned to a donor country, emerging on the world stage as a significant provider of development assistance.

Korea Puts Development on the Agenda for Seoul G-20 Summit

This blog post also appeared The Guardian's Global Development blog.

When Seoul hosts the G-20 in November, development issues will be squarely on the agenda for the first time since the top steering group for the global economy was created in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, according to Ho-young Ahn, South Korea’s Ambassador at large for the G-20.

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