Ideas to Action:

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June 24, 2010

Tailored Aid for a Tailored Age?

In this short essay, senior fellow David Wheeler compares the world’s foreign assistance architecture to how the rest of the world operates in the digital age. He suggests that multilateral and bilateral transactions from one behemoth to another may be stuck in the past now that technology can and should create more person-to-person foreign aid programs.

February 11, 2010

Reviving the Global Education Compact: Four Options for Global Education Funding

In this essay, visiting fellow Desmond Bermingham describes the framework for a better “global education compact” between donor and recipient nations and four possible arrangements to mobilize and allocate development assistance for education. He highlights the advantages and disadvantages of these options—all with the motivation of informing decisions that must be taken by the United States and other G-20 countries if donor commitments are to be met.

July 16, 2009

Development Aid and Its Criticisms: The View from Zambia

CGD policy analyst Lindsay Morgan explores the reality of aid-supported development in Zambia from three (very different) perspectives of people working there, in light of Dambisa Moyo's book, Dead Aid. She sheds light on a fundamental paradox of the aid business (huge donor efforts, much good, and massive unfulfilled need) and explores the paradox of three peoples’ lives—of believing they can fight injustice and suffering, and knowing there are significant limits to what they can do.

Lindsay Morgan
March 31, 2008

Power and Roads for Africa

CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran argues in this essay that the next U.S. president can play a valuable role in helping Africa to overcome two crucial barriers to poverty reduction: lack of power and lack of roads. Ramachandran urges the next president to create a $1 billion Clean Energy Fund for Africa to facilitate the transfer of U.S. infrastructure technology, including renewable energy; and to encourage the World Bank and the African Development Bank to focus on cross-country regional infrastructure projects, also with a strong emphasis on clean technology. The essay is included in a forthcoming CGD volume: The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President.

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March 17, 2008

Modernizing Foreign Assistance for the 21st Century: An Agenda for the Next U.S. President

Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has vowed a major overhaul of U.S. foreign assistance. He joins a growing list of members of Congress and the defense, diplomacy and development community who recognize that U.S. foreign assistance programs are badly in need of modernization to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In this new essay, adapted from a forthcoming CGD book The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet offers a blueprint to align U.S. foreign assistance with American values and foreign policy goals: develop a National Foreign Assistance Strategy; create a new cabinet-level department for development policy; rewrite the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act; place a higher priority on multilateral assistance channels; and increase the quantity and improve the allocation of funding.

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September 10, 2007

Helping the Bottom Billion: Is There a Third Way in the Development Debate?

Paul Collier's new book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, argues that many developing countries are doing just fine and that the real development challenge is the 58 countries that are economically stagnant and caught in one or more "traps": armed conflict, natural resource dependence, poor governance, and geographic isolation. In a review of the book recently published in Foreign Affairs, CGD research fellow Michael Clemens explores whether or not Collier's proposed solutions constitute a practical middle path between William Easterly's development pessimism and Jeffrey Sach's development boosterism.

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June 27, 2007

The Chinese Aid System

Chinese foreign aid is rising fast and Western aid agencies are concerned: will Chinese aid undermine efforts to promote reform in Africa and elsewhere? Will Chinese loans burden poor countries with fresh debt? In this new essay, CGD visiting fellow Carol Lancaster provides a concise and accessible overview of what is known--and not known--about the Chinese aid system. She advises aid agencies in Europe, North America and Japan to increase communication and to seek opportunities for collaboration with Beijing.

Carol Lancaster
March 16, 2007

Billions for War, Pennies for the Poor: Moving the President's FY2008 Budget from Hard Power to Smart Power

President Bush's FY2008 budget request provides a first glimpse into how the administration's new foreign assistance framework and transformational diplomacy agenda translate into who gets how much for what. In this CGD essay, authors Samuel Bazzi, Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick, show that the U.S. continues to devote a tiny fraction of national wealth to alleviate poverty and promote growth in the developing world. They recommend reform of U.S. development assistance include: a comprehensive national strategy for global development; a hard look at the top recipients; impact evaluation; a cabinet-level development agency; and rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Learn more

Samuel Bazzi , Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick
September 29, 2006

U.S. Foreign Aid Reform: Will It Fix What Is Broken?

In U.S. Foreign Aid Reform: Will It Fix What Is Broken? CGD research fellow Stewart Patrick says the U.S. foreign aid regime is broken, and it is not clear that the Bush administration's reform plan will fix it. Patrick proposes a total overhaul of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and the creation of an independent, cabinet-level department for international development.Learn more

March 13, 2006

Building and Running an Effective Policy Index: Lessons from the Commitment to Development Index

The Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 21 countries across six policy areas, is widely seen as the most comprehensive and substantive measure of rich country policies towards development. In response to requests from other would-be index builders, CDI architect David Roodman describes the work of the interdisciplinary team that builds and runs the Index. Among the lessons: to work well, policy indexes must combine humility with a clear sense of purpose.

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January 12, 2006

Reforming U.S. Development Policy

As the Bush Administration prepares to announce the reorganization of U.S. foreign assistance, Nancy Birdsall, Stewart Patrick and Milan Vaishnav argue in a new essay that making a dent in global poverty will require that the U.S. address four flaws: low volume and poor quality of aid; incoherence in non-aid development policies; lack of a strategy for weak and failing states; and a penchant for unilateral over multilateral action. Related event: Transformational Diplomacy, a talk by Steve Krasner, Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff.

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