Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



December 13, 2007

Putting the Power of Transparency in Context: Information's Role in Reducing Corruption in Uganda's Education Sector - Working Paper 136

One story popular in development circles tells how Uganda slashed corruption simply by publicly disclosing the amount of monthly grants to schools--thus making it harder for officials to siphon off money for their own enrichment. This working paper finds that while the percentage of funds being diverted did indeed drop, the real value of funds diverted only fell by a modest 12 percent over six years. And the information campaign was no panacea; other policies and reforms also contributed to the improvement.

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December 10, 2007

Joining the Fight Against Global Poverty: A Menu for Corporate Engagement

International corporations interested in joining the fight against global poverty can choose from a wide range of options, according to a new CGD report released last week. The report, Joining the Fight Against Global Poverty: A Menu for Corporate Engagement, suggests six approaches for corporations to consider. Based on interviews with senior executives at 15 firms with global reach, it includes stories about what has worked (and what hasn't) and describes some of the advantages that companies have found in working for development.

Staci Warden
December 10, 2007

Macro Aid Effectiveness Research: A Guide for the Perplexed - Working Paper 135

The argument about whether foreign aid "works" rages on. Recently, Paul Collier sought a practical middle path between William Easterly's development pessimism and Jeffrey Sach's development boosterism. How can smart people draw such contradictory conclusions from the same data? This new working paper by CGD research fellow David Roodman answers this question by describing consensus where it exists and identifying sources of controversy. Roodman concludes that, while aid has eradicated diseases, prevented famines, and done many other good things, given the limited and noisy data available, its effects on growth in particular probably cannot be detected.

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December 3, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth: A Carbon-Intensive South Faces Environmental Disaster, No Matter What the North Does - Working Paper 134

As a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, developed countries have an indisputable responsibility to address global warming. But the developing country argument that, as blameless victims of climate change they should be unfettered by emissions regulations, is wrong. In this working paper, CGD senior fellow David Wheeler and research assistant Kevin Ummel empirically test that assertion and come to a startling conclusion: the South would soon face a climate crisis even if the North and all its emissions had never existed.

November 26, 2007

Round Five Of The MCA: Which Countries Are Most Likely To Be Selected For FY2008?

On December 12, the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) Board will choose which countries are eligible for FY2008 funding in what may be the toughest selection round to date. With funding tight, new countries passing the performance test, half of the countries with signed compacts failing, and an MCC decision to shift its focus to implementation, this round should test the MCC's adherence to its principles and perhaps set new standards. As it does each year, the MCA Monitor team takes a hard look at tough choices and predicts which countries the MCC Board is likely to choose.

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November 26, 2007

Reviving Economic Growth in Liberia - Working Paper 133

In this new CGD working paper, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet explores the challenges Liberia faces in revitalizing economic growth after 25 years of gross economic mismanagement and 14 years of brutal civil war. He examines the new government's progress, including the major steps it has taken in its first 18 months and the unique way that it has organized government-donor relations. Based upon patterns of post-conflict recovery in several other African countries, he suggests that Liberia's recovery is likely to proceed in three phases: an immediate phase driven by aid and rebounding urban services; renewal of traditional natural resource-based activities; and, finally, processed products and other goods and services that can compete on global markets. Radelet writes from a unique perspective: he is serving as an advisor to Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

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November 16, 2007

The Impact of FY2008 Funding Options on the MCA: From Saving Face to Saving the Program

Amid a contentious FY2008 budget round between Congress and the White House, foreign assistance -- particularly that for development -- may face cuts during negotiations. The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) -- one of few U.S. foreign aid programs specifically targeted to long-term development objectives -- is especially vulnerable. In a new MCA Monitor Analysis, senior policy analyst Sheila Herrling presents a path forward for Congress and the administration to address the real issues hindering MCA implementation, and argues against an amendment introduced by Senator Lugar to change the MCA's compact funding obligations policy because it erodes key innovations that distinguish the MCA from other aid programs.

November 12, 2007

Information Disclosure and Climate: The Thinking Behind CARMA - Working Paper 132

Nearly everybody agrees that cutting greenhouse gas emissions to save the planet will require market-based instruments such as carbon taxes or cap-and-trade. But so far there is no reliable source of data to support such a system. In this new working paper, CGD senior fellow David Wheeler, who leads CGD's work on climate change and is the architect of the new CARMA database, argues that the international community should prepare now by establishing an institution to collect, verify and publicly disclose information about CO2 emissions from all global sources. The paper implicitly sets forth the underlying rationale for CARMA, CGD's contribution to such a global effort.

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November 12, 2007

The Pentagon and Global Development: Making Sense of the DoD's Expanding Role - Working Paper 131

The recent creation of AFRICOM, a U.S. military command for Africa, is but one manifestation of the Pentagon's growing role in development. One-in-five dollars that the U.S. spends on development assistance is now handled by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Pentagon share of U.S. development spending has increased three-fold in the past five years, to some $5.5 billion annually. In a new CGD working paper, research fellow Stewart Patrick and program associate Kaysie Brown find that while the vast bulk of Pentagon development aid is for Iraq and Afghanistan, the department is also increasingly involved in new initiatives that civilian agencies could undertake. They warn that DoD's growing role in foreign assistance could undermine a broader U.S. approach to development support, and they offer specific recommendations for restoring a more appropriate balance.

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Stewart Patrick and Kaysie Brown
November 12, 2007

PEPFAR Reauthorization: Improving Transparency in U.S. Funding for HIV/AIDS

The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provides more than $5 billion per year to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Exactly how is that money spent? Donors, recipients, and even PEPFAR staff are often left guessing, because much of the extensive data the U.S. government collects on the program isn't released. In this new CGD note, Michael Bernstein and Sarah Jane Staats (Hise) urge the U.S. Congress to require that PEPFAR regularly release this data. They argue that this would improve coordination between PEPFAR and other donors, help PEPFAR staff assess progress and hold recipients accountable, and increase cost-effectiveness. Some of the data will soon be available anyway: CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor is preparing to release PEPFAR funding data for Fiscal Years 2004-2006 obtained by a partner organization through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Michael Bernstein and Sarah Jane Staats (Hise)
October 25, 2007

The Commitment to Development Index 2007 Report

Each year since 2003, the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) has ranked 21 rich countries on their dedication (or not!) to policies that benefit the five billion people living in poor countries. The CDI moves beyond simple comparisons of aid funding and in so doing embodies the mission of CGD, which addresses all government policies that affect poorer countries. This report summarizes the results of this year's Index, discusses key ideas that underpin each component and shows how countries' scores have changed over time.

October 24, 2007

Reflections on the Macro Foundations of the Middle Class in the Developing World - Working Paper 130

Shared growth—growth that helps to build a middle class—is now widely embraced as a central economic goal for developing countries. In this new working paper CGD president Nancy Birdsall reviews how macroeconomic policies shape incentives for inclusive growth, focusing on fiscal discipline; fair revenue and expenditure practices; and a business-friendly exchange rate. Relying heavily on the experience in Latin America and drawing lessons for other parts of the developing world, Birdsall argues that growth that strengthens the middle classes helps poor people, too.

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October 22, 2007

Which Countries Might Trip on the Millennium Challenge Account Corruption Hurdle?

The Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) will soon release performance data that will form the basis of its FY2008 country selection round. The only indicator that countries must pass to qualify for MCC money is Control of Corruption. CGD's Sheila Herrling and Sarah Rose have crunched the numbers for the corruption indicator data and offer an early preview of which countries will clear the hurdle—and which are likely to trip. In early November the MCA Monitor team will release their predictions of which countries will be deemed eligible for Millennium Challenge funding. The MCC Board is scheduled to announce its decision on December 4.

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October 15, 2007

Generation of Political Priority for Global Health Initiatives: A Framework and Case Study of Maternal Mortality - Working Paper 129

This week, public health advocates gather in London to mark the 20th anniversary of the global safe motherhood initiative, launched in 1987 to reduce the number of mothers who die or suffer injury giving birth. Despite the advocates' work, the initiative has yet to gain the political traction needed for success. Why? This new working paper by CGD visiting fellow Jeremy Shiffman and Stephanie Smith examine why some global health initiatives, such as HIV/AIDS, become policy priorities while others do not. They find that a problem is more likely to garner attention when political leaders express sustained concern, when the organizations they lead enact policies to address the problem; and when appropriate resources are made available.

October 15, 2007

From World Bank to World Development Cooperative

In this CGD Essay, Birdsall and Subramianian argue that the World Bank faces twin crises of relevance and legitimacy in a rapidly changing world. The solution, they argue, is for the bank to become a more active catalyst for generating global public goods and knowledge and a more reluctant lender to governments. The World Bank should move, in effect, from being a bank to being a global development cooperative. The essay suggests specific, practical steps for such reforms.

October 10, 2007

Following the Funding for HIV/AIDS: A Comparative Analysis of the Funding Practices of PEPFAR, the Global Fund and World Bank MAP in Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia

Donor funding for HIV/AIDS has skyrocketed in the last decade: from US$ 300 million in 1996 to US$ 8.9 billion in 2006. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how this money is spent. Following the Funding for HIV/AIDS, by CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor team, analyzes the policies and practices of the world's largest AIDS donors—the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank's Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program for Africa (MAP)—as they are applied in three case study countries: Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia. The report urges all three funders to improve country-level coordination, tracking of funds, and the collection and disclosure of data. It also identifies the strengths and shortcomings of each of the funders and offers suggestions for improvement.

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Nandini Oomman , Michael Bernstein and Steven Rosenzweig
October 10, 2007

How Do the BRICs Stack Up? Adding Brazil, Russia, India, and China to the Environment Component of the Commitment to Development Index - Working Paper 128

In this working paper CGD research fellow David Roodman explains how the four biggest developing countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China, a group Goldman Sachs dubbed the "BRICs" -- stack up to their rich-country counterparts on the environment component of the annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI). He finds they generally perform well on greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and tropical timber imports. Major weaknesses include low gas taxes, Amazon deforestation and heavy fossil fuel use.

October 10, 2007

The 2007 Commitment to Development Index: Components and Results

This CGD brief summarizes the results of the 2007 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 21 of the world's richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit the five billion people living in poorer nations. The Netherlands comes in first on the 2007 CDI on the strength of ample aid-giving, falling greenhouse gas emissions, and support for investment in developing countries. Close behind are three more big aid donors: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.