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.

 

ICAI grades for spending directly evaluated (Depts reviewed and >1% UK aid)

How Effective Is UK Aid? Assessing the Last 8 Years of Spending

In our new policy paper, we take advantage of the fact that the impact of UK aid is independently assessed by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). Looking back over 8 years and 65 graded assessments, even with a focus on riskier projects, we find that almost 80 percent of UK aid assessed was well spent. With a spending review on the horizon, HM Treasury will be looking closely at departmental performance and should use ICAI’s findings to shape their allocations. 

Cape Town at morning rush hour

Anarchy Undelivered

Twenty-five years ago, travel writer and journalist Robert Kaplan wrote an article for The Atlantic, headlined “The Coming Anarchy.” It was an apocalyptic account of Kaplan’s visit to West Africa and his dark vision that much of the world would end up looking like war-torn Sierra Leone. Kaplan suggested recently that he thought “The Coming Anarchy” had stood the test of time. I disagree, and think the fact that Kaplan was wrong matters: global jeremiads are a force for isolationism. I discussed why with The Atlantic’s Matthew Peterson on a new podcast.  

 
Construction workers laying a road

Do the Poor Want Cash Transfers or Public Services?

Nearly 4,000 people in rural Bihar, India, answered the question, “Would you rather have the government budget spent on cash transfers or public health and nutrition services?” According to a blog post by Khemani, Habyarimana, and Nooruddin, “only 13 percent chose cash if it came at the expense of spending to improve public health and nutrition.” The pattern is similar when comparing cash to roads, with the vast majority of people preferring roads. 

Cash and coins on a blank surface

Financing Options for Low-Income Countries

The global narrative on development finance centers on enabling all countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This cascades into a set of questions about how much financing is needed, how it should be mobilized, and how it will be used. While the SDGs motivate action and have a reasonable prospect of being met in middle-income developing countries, achieving the SDGs in low-income countries (LICs), which have further to travel and more binding resource and institutional constraints, will be harder. The challenge will be most acute in Africa, where pockets of absolute poverty are increasingly concentrated and environmental degradation and conflict add to state fragility.  

IFC's headquarters. Photo via wikimedia

IFC’s Accountability Review Is Welcome but Must Translate to Action

International Finance Corporation CEO Philippe Le Houerou announced that the IFC’s board will undertake a review of its accountability mechanisms, including the office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. The announcement is timely. By initiating a review, IFC’s Board is taking the first step toward a more transparent and accountable operating structure. 

Classroom with students raising their hands in front of a blackboard

Learning at Scale: Call for Programs

RTI International, in collaboration with CGD, is excited to share a new effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to expand our collective knowledge about successful large-scale education programs. Through this work, we will examine how these programs have succeeded in improving learning outcomes, while identifying the key ingredients underpinning their success. We plan to use these findings to develop a guide and user-friendly tools for understanding essential elements of effective large-scale programs.

The World Bank Group's headquarters

Congress Spotlights the World Bank’s Private Sector Subsidies

Yesterday, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing with US Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin on the international financial system. Chairwoman Maxine Waters opened the session with a strong statement on the World Bank’s $2.5 billion IDA Private Sector Window (PSW). Chairwoman Waters raises important concerns with the Private Sector Window that should be urgently addressed.

Panelists on the stage at the CGD Event 'Empowering Ultra-Poor Women: Learning from Graduation Approaches.' Photo by Kaveh Sardari.

What Does it Take to Empower Ultra-Poor Women?

There is no more urgent and fundamental problem in development than finding effective ways to help the ultra-poor improve their economic and social condition. But most interventions don’t reach the poorest of the poor. A stellar panel cohosted by CGD and Women for Women International recently came together to discuss the challenges in addressing the needs of the poorest women and to explore how graduation programs perform in addressing them. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.

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