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In the world of foreign aid flows, the idea of paying for outcomes rather than inputs has a long history. Yet despite regular proclamations of interest in such approaches, the share of funding that is linked to outputs or outcomes instead of activities and processes remains quite small.
The UK’s development agency, DFID, has stated that it views research as the best way to spend aid and that it intends to place high quality research central to its aid strategy. In a new paper, we find significant problems with the way that UK aid is being used to back research: a huge ramp-up in support has largely gone to fund opaque, unfocused research in UK universities. There are better approaches.
Migration is a crucial and cross-cutting topic within development—and one of the seven current components in our annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks rich countries on their dedication to policies that benefit people living in the poorest countries.
ICAI has just entered its third four-year phase. ICAI is a major asset in ensuring aid is well-spent. Having reviewed ICAI’s prior work, we think ICAI could should focus more on “results claims”—that is, whether the estimates of expected benefits that underpin decision-making by Ministers are well-evidenced.
Rory Stewart, the UK’s new Secretary of State for Development has big ambitions for the country. In light of Stewart’s self-declared candidacy for Prime Minister, we look at four areas where he can demonstrate his credentials and value to UK taxpayers, and bolster international efforts to reduce poverty with UK leadership.
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.
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) issued a report this week on the performance of CDC–the UK’s development finance institution–in low-income and fragile states. ICAI gives CDC an Amber/Red rating on its performance, which means “unsatisfactory achievement in most areas, with some positive elements.” In particular, the commission says that CDC has not done enough to monitor its performance.
The UK’s 2015 National Aid Strategy committed all departments to be “Very Good” or “Good” on Publish What You Fund’s Aid Transparency Index (“the Index”). We look at a leading indicator of transparency and conclude that, beyond DFID, progress has been almost non-existent. With a spending review to set budgets to 2022 expected next year, departments should take the last chance to step-up their performance and HM Treasury should not renew their spending if they don’t.
Donors have lost their focus on aid effectiveness in the last decade, limiting aid’s impact. Aid effectiveness still matters enormously to the world’s poor; donors should revisit effective aid principles and agree measures which take better account of today’s challenges and context.