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The current rules for what counts as aid are a mess. Richard Manning, a former chair of the DAC (the OECD’s donor club), said last year that the system allows donors to “get away with murder” by counting loans as aid even if they are made on commercial terms. He has led a commendable campaign for reform.
The priority for policymakers concerned about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa should be to respond to the existing outbreak, treat the victims, and contain its spread. But the longer term lesson is that we need to be willing to spend more on global health.
Does a stand-alone Department for International Development have a long-term future? What is the role of DFID in facilitating other British government departments and other UK organizations to assist developing countries? What is its role in influencing the policies of other Whitehall departments?
Development agencies are increasingly interested in making aid more transparent, stakeholder-led, and effective by expanding the use of payment by results (PbR) — rewarding those implementing projects on the basis of results delivered instead of paying for inputs. For payment by results to work, you have to get a lot of things right. It has to be for the right kind of programme targeting the right results, properly measured and rewarded in the right way. These issues, and more, are laid out in Stefan Dercon and Paul Clist’s 12 principles for payment by results (PDF).
Administrators in colonial-era Delhi, the story goes, had a problem. The growing capital city bordered agricultural land, bringing more people into occasionally deadly contact with a subcontinental rogues gallery that included cobras and banded kraits.