Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



Credit: Pippa Ranger/Department for International Development
August 21, 2017

Good Quality Evaluations for Good Policy: Findings and Recommendations from Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health

Evaluations are key to learning and accountability yet their usefulness depends on the quality of their evidence and analysis. This brief summarizes the key findings of a CGD Working Paper that assessed the quality of aid agency evaluations in global health. By looking at a representative sample of evaluations—both impact and performance evaluations—from major health funders, the study authors developed 10 recommendations to improve the quality of such evaluations and, consequently, increase their usefulness.

William Savedoff , Janeen Madan Keller and Julia Goldberg Raifman
Cover of Working Paper 461
August 18, 2017

Evaluating Evaluations: Assessing the Quality of Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health - Working Paper 461

We assessed the methodological quality of global health program evaluations from five major funders between 2009 and 2014. We found that most evaluations did not meet social science methodological standards in terms of relevance, validity, and reliability. Nevertheless, good quality evaluations made it possible to identify ten recommendations for improving evaluations, including a robust finding that early planning is associated with better quality.

Julia Goldberg Raifman , Felix Lam , Janeen Madan Keller , Alexander Radunsky and William Savedoff
November 15, 2016

Cash on Delivery Aid for Energy

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.

March 7, 2016

Anti-Corruption Strategies in Foreign Aid: From Controls to Results

Corruption is an obstacle to social and economic progress in developing countries yet we still know very little about the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts and their impact on development impact. This essay looks at 25 years of efforts by foreign aid agencies to combat corruption and proposes a new strategy which could leverage existing approaches by directly incorporating information on development results.

July 20, 2015

Shifting the Foreign Aid Paradigm — Paying for Outcomes

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.

February 6, 2015

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.

February 5, 2014

An Introduction to Cash on Delivery Aid for Funders

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.

October 2, 2013

Can Results-Based Payments Reduce Corruption? - Working Paper 345

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.

December 1, 2011

Cash On Delivery Aid for Health: What Indicators Would Work Best? - Working Paper 275

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.

William Savedoff and Katie Douglas Martel
August 31, 2011

Incentive Proliferation? Making Sense of a New Wave of Development Programs

A new wave of development programs that explicitly use incentives to achieve their aims is under way.They are part of a trend, accelerating in recent years, to disburse development assistance against specific and measurable outputs or outcomes. With a proliferation of new ideas under names such as “payments for performance,” “output-based aid,” and “results based financing,” it is easy to lose sight of basic underlying similarities in these approaches and to miss some significant differences.