Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.

 

Memo to Aid World: Drop “Capacity Building”

I have always chafed at the idea of “capacity building” – a donor fallback in developing countries whenever progress on a donor-financed project is slow. Too much of what donors mean by capacity building has turned out to be training sessions, workshops, and nice trips of mid-level technical staff from low-income countries to Paris, London and Washington.

A Critical Moment for COD Aid or “The Trouble with Targets”

As mentioned in our last post, aid agencies are experimenting with programs that incorporate the main features of COD Aid: paying for outputs and outcomes, giving the recipient greater discretion to spend as they see fit, independent verification, and transparency. Once these results-based programs are up and running, they face a critical test when the first results are reported. In particular, most programs create expectations by setting annual targets and are then judged relative to those targets rather than to their baseline. And this means that even successful programs will be viewed as failures (a point also made in an earlier blog). By refusing to set targets, a results-based program can avoid this pitfall. How is it that targets can create such a problem?

Zoellick Annual Meeting Speech on Research!

The most important thing about Robert Zoellick’s speech at Georgetown yesterday is that the president of the World Bank gave a speech about research – development economics research, that is --  in the run-up to the Bank’s annual meeting.

Closing the Evaluation Gap: 3ie One Year On (Are Conditional Cash Transfer Programs Improving Human Capital?)

This is a joint post with William Savedoff.

Policymakers, researchers, and development experts gathered at CGD on May 4 to discuss the implications of existing research on conditional cash transfers (CCTs) and recommend ways for the development community to improve impact evaluations of interventions, like CCTs, in the future. The workshop, entitled Closing the Evaluation Gap: 3ie One Year On (Are Conditional Cash Transfer Programs Improving Human Capital?), was jointly hosted by CGD and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), and included a series of presentations and high-level panel discussions focused on the effect of CCT programs on outcomes such as educational attainment, grade progression, birth weight, and access to family planning methods.

In a recent blog post, Evaluation Gap Working Group co-chair and CGD senior fellow William Savedoff explained the motivation for the workshop, highlighting the heightened need to address the ways in which evidence and policymaking interact, as well as the importance of continued improvements in evaluation systems in determining the efficacy of social interventions. We were thrilled with the positive responses from the workshop’s participants and audience members, and invigorated by the discussion and recommendations that arose as a result of the event.

A New Home at USAID

Ruth LevineOn Monday, I will join USAID as Director of Evaluation, Policy Analysis & Learning. In this position, I'll be supporting initiatives that are already underway to apply the best available evidence to decisions at many levels, and to generate new knowledge as an integral part of the agency’s work.

Pages