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Philippines Launches Aid Transparency Hub, Encourages Donor Transparency

This is a joint post with Lawrence MacDonald.

Struggling to provide relief and reconstruction assistance in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda), the Philippines has launched a foreign aid information hub and gently encouraged donors to follow through on their own transparency pledges, with a top official reported in the Philippine press as saying that the two efforts "should go hand in hand."

Filipinos Like Typhoon Relief Transparency

Something surprising happened this week after my colleagues Vijaya Ramachandran and Owen Barder posted a call for donors providing help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a Yolanda) to rapidly post data on their plans and actions. Their post, Let’s Not Help the Philippines Like We Helped Haiti, which argued for helping the Philippines better through aid transparency, went viral overnight as thousands of Filipinos around the world visited the page and “liked” it on Facebook.

Let’s Not Help the Philippines Like We Helped Haiti

The immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, such as that the typhoon which devastated part of the Phillipines on Friday, can bring out the best of the global community. There will come a time to discuss how we can do more to prevent the environmental changes which make such events more likely; but the immediate priority is to get water, food and shelter to people who urgently need it. 

OECD Dispute with Oslo Has a Bad ODA

In Norway last year I met with the impressive staff of one of the world’s largest and smartest NGOs. They were unhappy that Norwegian aid money was being used to discourage deforestation in Brazil instead of to immunize children and educate girls in low-income Africa—in other words, to deal with climate change rather than “development.”  I countered that minimizing climate change is a crucial piece of development, and urged them to rethink the issue. 

Close but No Cigar: Paying for Performance Is Not Necessarily COD Aid

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.”

It Takes Two to Quango: Does the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact Duplicate or Add Value?

The United Kingdom has been a stalwart funder and innovator in foreign assistance for almost 20 years. In 2011, it created the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) to report to Parliament on the country’s growing aid portfolio. ICAI is a QUANGO in Brit-speak – a quasi-public non-governmental organization - with a 4-year mandate which is undergoing review this year. Recently, I took a look at the reports it has produced to see whether the organization is fulfilling its role in holding the country’s overseas development aid programs accountable.  I found one fascinating report which shows what ICAI could be doing and many more reports that made me wonder whether ICAI is duplicating work already within the purview of the agency, Department for International Development (DFID), which accounts for most of the UK’s foreign assistance programs.

The Rush for the Entrances in Myanmar

Over the decade, donors have publicly declared that they would improve how they operate in order to make aid work better. They would coordinate better, let recipient countries take more ownership of project design, and so on. Ten years and ten days ago, there was the Rome Declaration.

The ALMOST Feedback Loop

Mike is in a hurry to get home from work – eager to see his family and put his feet up after a long shift.

It’s 5pm on a chilly winter day in Detroit and he’s waiting for his bus to come. Thanks to TextMyBus.com and the Detroit Department of Transportation, he is able to use his cell phone to discover that the next bus is due in just 10 minutes. A few minutes go by and he heads outside right before it’s scheduled to stop. But after 10 minutes, no bus. After 30 minutes, his bus finally shows, but spending an extra 20 minutes in below freezing weather and snow means that Mike gets a nasty cold and misses a few days of work.

In my recent blog post, "Make a Consumer Reports for Aid," I detailed four questions that are important to answer in the quest for fully realizing the benefits of feedback loops. In this post, we focus on framing question #4:

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