Energy is critical to human welfare, yet energy consumption in developing countries is extremely low relative to modern living standards. Conventional aid programs have invested in energy production with some success but also with many notable failures. This paper discusses how a distinctive approach to development aid—disbursing funds against improved outcomes—could make aid more effective in the energy sector. In particular, it explores the use of Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid) to resolve perennial difficulties encountered by conventional aid programs in energy sector development.
While global development is about much more than aid, US foreign assistance is, and will remain, one of the most visible tools for US development policy in many countries. The US government spends less than 1 percent of its annual budget — about $23 billion — on nonmilitary foreign assistance across the globe. These programs have consistently come under fire for failing to achieve measurable and sustainable results, ignoring local priorities and contexts, perpetuating bureaucratic inefficiencies and inflexibility, and repeating mistakes over time. A paradigm shift within US aid agencies is needed. In this brief, we outline concrete proposals that would address many of the traditional shortcomings of US foreign aid approaches.
Does Results-Based Aid Change Anything? Pecuniary Interests, Attention, Accountability and Discretion in Four Case Studies
Results-based aid (RBA) is a form of foreign assistance in which one government disburses funds to another for achieving an outcome. This paper distinguishes four different theories used to justify RBA programs and analyzes four case studies – from GAVI, the Amazon Fund, Ethiopian Secondary Education and Salud Mesoamérica.
This introductory note is for funders that are considering the Cash on Delivery Aid approach for their operations. It offers answers to the most common questions that staff from government agencies and foundations have posed to the Center about testing this outcomes-focused approach. It provides specific sector examples and offers references to other resources and FAQs on the Center’s website that have more detailed information about designing and implementing Cash on Delivery Aid programs.
A common objection to results-based programs is that they are somehow more vulnerable to corruption. This paper explains why results-based approaches to foreign aid may be less vulnerable to corruption than traditional approaches which track inputs and activities. The paper highlights corruption costs associated with failing to generate benefits and outlines the conditions under which one approach or another might be preferable. It concludes that results-based programs may be less vulnerable to corruption costs associated with failure because they limit the capacity of dishonest agents to divert funds unless those agents first improve efficiency and outputs.
This paper assesses the challenges of applying COD Aid in the health sector. After clarifying how COD Aid differs from results-based financing approaches, the paper presents four key characteristics for designing a successful agreement. It discusses features of the health sector and foreign aid flows to health that need to be considered when designing a successful COD Aid agreement for this sector.
This brief examines options for a COD Aid contract in Pakistan’s education sector and its potential benefits for improving the relationship between official donors and the government of Pakistan, and for increasing the effectiveness of aid spending in Pakistan.
Traditional donor financing mechanisms tend to track inputs instead of results, lack transparency, accountability, and country ownership. These inefficiencies waste resources, erode the trust of aid constituencies, and fail to improve the lives of the poor. TrAid+ is a new mechanism that aims to address these problems by acting as a third-party stamp of approval that all parties involved can trust to know that aid is being used effectively and is contributing to the development objectives of the recipient country. This paper describes the trAid+ concept in detail and proposes practical steps to establish the traAid+ platform.
In a presentation delivered at the UK Department for International Development on March 9, 2011, CGD president Nancy Birdsall spoke about opportunities and challenges for the implementation of Cash on Delivery Aid, an approach that allows aid agencies to address both short-term and long-term objectives of aid.
This brief describes a new approach, Cash on Delivery Aid, which gives recipients full responsibility and authority over funds paid in proportion to verified measures of progress.
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.
Cash on Delivery (COD) Aid proposes serious reform to make aid work well by forcing accountability, aligning the objectives of funders and recipients, and sharing information about what works.
In this paper, part of the Innovations in Aid series, Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray describe shifts in the objectives of overseas development assistance (ODA) over time and conclude that it is time to put the concept itself to bed—in favor of what they propose should be called “Global Policy Finance.”
In September 2008 official aid donors and recipients will meet in Accra, Ghana, to discuss how to make development assistance more effective. CGD president Nancy Birdsall and co-author Kate Vyborny suggest that advocates of better aid who really want a win at Accra forget haggling over broad conceptual issues and focus instead on getting a public commitment from donors to one or more very concrete steps to improve aid effectiveness and to hold donors accountable.
In Reinventing Foreign Aid, CGD non-resident fellow William Easterly has gathered top scholars in the field to discuss how to improve foreign aid. These authors, Easterly points out, are not claiming that their ideas will (to invoke a current slogan) Make Poverty History. Rather, they take on specific problems and propose some hard-headed solutions.
Measuring Progress with Tests of Learning: Pros and Cons for "Cash on Delivery Aid" in Education - Working Paper 147
Improving education has been a central goal of international development for decades, and the best indicators of improvement measure student performance. But can such measurements be used as incentives to stimulate more rapid improvement in education? There are no simple answers to this question since test-based measures pose a myriad of technical challenges. In this CGD Working Paper, visiting fellow Marlaine Lockheed reviews some of these challenges and the effects they could have on measuring the success of “progress-based aid” programs. She suggests four ways to successfully incorporate measures of learning outcomes into programs for progress-based aid.