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When we make presentations on COD AIDat development agencies, we are frequently told: “Oh, we’re already doing that.” The more we investigate, however, the fewer cases we find where agencies are really disbursing funds against independently verified outcomes in a hands-off fashion. We’re tempted to say “close but no cigar.”
Even an avid consumer of the news and commentary on Obama’s speech on the Middle East yesterday could easily miss his proposals for supporting job-creating economic growth and development in the region. But long after we have forgotten the media bluster over a possible shift (or not!) in U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine, the president’s seemingly modest suggestions on development just might be making a difference.
The one that intrigues me most involves putting the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to work in the Middle East and North Africa.
Last Friday I spoke at this event “What Works in Education”, a research colloquium sponsored by the World Bank, J-PAL, and USAID (which, like the World Bank, has recently released a new education strategy).
A new year calls for a development policy wish list. My wish list is about what the rich and powerful global actors– mostly but not solely in the United States – can do to improve lives among the poor and vulnerable around the world in the coming year.
USAID Administrator Shah has taken another step in his ambitious program of making USAID not only a premier development agency (as Hillary Clinton promised it would be back in her January 2010 development speech) but premier in economic analysis, and in macro as well as micro. Shah could not have been smarter than to recruit Steve Radelet from his job as a senior advisor on development to Secretary Clinton.
Simon Maxwell has a fantastic posting here on why the recent focus on results-based aid has some development professionals shifting uncomfortably in their seats. In the UK, the new Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell has promised results and value for money in UK aid spending, invoking Cash on Delivery Aid to my delight.
On 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.
To all those concerned about the future of foreign aid, please take the opportunity to read the works included in CGD’s new Innovations in Aid mini-series. The first paper in this series “The End of ODA” is by Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray, and though it was started before the current global financial crisis reached its height, it is more relevant today than ever before. In this paper Severino and Ray describe shifts in the objectives of ODA (official development assistance) over time, and conclude that it is time to reform the concept and rename it “Global Policy Finance”.