Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

Do Weak Governments Doom Developing Countries to Poverty?

When you read what economists have to say about development, it is easy to be disheartened about the prospects for poor countries. One big reason is that slow changing institutional factors are seen as key to development prospects. I’ve just published a CGD book that’s a little more optimistic: Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption.

How Much Aid is Really Lost to Corruption?

One of the questions reportedly from the Presidential transition team to the State Department was: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?” During the nomination hearings for Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Senator Rand Paul provided one answer: seventy percent of aid is “stolen off the top.” The question is a fair one to ask. The bad news is that the short answer is “we don’t know.” The better news is that the slightly longer answer is “nowhere near 70 percent.” And the best news is that if we spent more time tracking the results of aid projects, we’d have a much better idea of where corruption was a problem and if our efforts to reduce it were working.

How the US and UK Can Help Ordinary Zimbabweans without Helping their Government

How can countries with a strong history and connection to that beleaguered country help its people while not entrenching its kleptocratic leadership? Between the “lend and hope” strategy and the “isolate and wait” approach, what could the international community do to prevent unnecessary suffering without aiding the oppressors? Here’s an agenda.

"The Worst Aid Project in the World:" EU Support for Detention Camps in Sudan

More than a million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, with thousands dying in the attempt to cross by sea. EU development policy has swung into action, in an attempt to address the “root causes” of the movement of people. But this rapid reaction has led to some poor decisions, with the potential to waste a lot of money, and potentially cause serious harm.

Shocked! Scandal-Driven Management Is No Way to Address Corruption

Politicians and agency officials are always morally indignant when it comes to corruption in foreign aid, pointing to elaborate procedures and investigative offices to prove that they are “tough” and calling for zero tolerance (most recently here and here). However, for most governments and agencies, corruption is only a problem when it is discovered. That is when it becomes an obstacle to disbursing funds and keeping business moving.

Spotted: Development in the 2013 SOTU

My (low) expectations for the 2013 State of the Union address were happily exceeded when President Obama delivered an ambitious speech that spanned a myriad of US and foreign policy topics.  Admittedly, most of his remarks on development were cleverly disguised as domestic issues.  But the 100+ wonks gathered at CGD’s annual State of the Union Bingo event weren't fooled, as mentions of climate change, immigration and trade set ink daubers in motion and prompted victorious shouts o

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