The prime minister’s most influential advisor, Dominic Cummings, is a champion of “effective altruism”—the use of evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to maximize the good with a given unit of resources. With the UK government in the midst of a major “Integrated Review” of its foreign, development, and defence policy—and the recent the formation of a merged Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office confirming it isn’t afraid of change—now’s a good time to consider whether the effective altruism movement can or should find great traction in UK aid programmes.
This note aims to help recipient countries understand Chinese aid management and structures by providing an overview of those structures and what they mean for the future of aid from China. The note takes into account two key shifts in Chinese aid management in recent years: the formation of CIDCA, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We hope this note will also be of interest to development practitioners seeking to better engage with China or to learn from China’s experience.
China’s Aid from the Bottom Up: Recipient Country Reporting on Chinese Development Cooperation Flows
This policy paper aims to fill this gap by shedding light on China’s global impact “from the bottom up.” The paper uses three rounds of data submitted since 2014 by countries receiving Chinese aid to a process known as the “Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.” To supplement the data, the paper also includes results of surveys and a series of interviews with key individuals involved in reporting Chinese development cooperation data within recipient countries.
The Commitment to Development Index ranks 40 countries on their development policies. How did your country do this year?
On 30th April, Ian Mitchell submitted written evidence on aid effectiveness to the UK's International Development Select Committee.
Actually Navigating by Judgment: Towards a New Paradigm of Donor Accountability Where the Current System Doesn’t Work
This paper explores how donors can move towards greater Navigation by Judgment, highlighting the actions people inside and outside aid agencies can work to make change—encouraging more Navigation by Judgment on the margin, starting today.
Management by way of top-down controls and targets sometimes gets in the way of aid donors’ aims, undermining project success. These unhelpful controls often stem from a need to account for performance; legislatures or executive boards induce agencies to exercise tight process controls and orient projects towards what is measurable and reportable.
This paper revisits the concept of international development aid effectiveness and its measurement as part of a review of the Quality of ODA (QuODA) assessment published regularly since 2010.
This paper illustrates the tradeoff between country ownership and funders’ priorities with a formal model in which aid is governed by a contract to produce a jointly desired outcome. The model generalizes the Principal-Agent approaches for studying aid which treat countries as having multiple objectives.
The UK has considerably increased the amount of aid it spends on research in recent years. We suggest reporting reforms that will increase transparency and allow greater scrutiny of the way UK research aid is spent. We also call for the UK to live up to its reporting to the OECD that all British aid is untied.
The Quality of UK Aid Spending, 2011–2018: An Analysis of Evaluations by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact
This paper analyses the grades awarded in the 65 primary reviews undertaken by the UK Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) over its first eight years of operation, from 2011 to 2018. It finds that ICAI has directly evaluated £28bn of UK aid over the period. Around four-fifths of spend assessed was graded as “satisfactory” (amber/green) or “strong” (green). The findings from ICAI reviews, and this report, should inform the UK Government’s aid allocations between departments at the forthcoming spending review.
There has been a resurgence in calls to reconsider the cross-party consensus in the UK on foreign aid and development. The main political parties are all committed to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on aid, to using the internationally agreed definition of aid, and to maintaining a separate government department to administer the majority of this aid, led by a Cabinet Minister. In their recent report, Global Britain: A Twenty-first Century Vision, Bob Seely MP and James Rogers lay challenge to these long-established pillars of UK development policy. In this note, we consider some of the questions they raise and suggest alternative answers.
This paper discusses the United Kingdom’s foreign aid quality based on an updated assessment of the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) published by the Center for Global Development. We find UK aid quality has decreased from 2012 to 2016 and now ranks 15th out of the 27 countries assessed.
The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries on policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. How did your country do this year?
Are USAID programs high impact and good value for money? Do they work? Do they generate more results for less cost than if the agency just gave poor people cash? We don’t always know the answers to those questions, but USAID is trying to find out.
As waves of migrants have crossed the Mediterranean and the US Southwest border, development agencies have received a de facto mandate: to deter migration from poor countries. Will it work? Here we review the evidence on whether foreign aid has been directed toward these “root causes” in the past, whether it has deterred migration from poor countries, and whether it can do so.
In response to the recent migrant and refugee crisis, rich countries have redoubled policy efforts to deter future immigration from poor countries by addressing the “root causes” of migration. We review existing evidence on the extent and effectiveness of such efforts.
While it is far too soon to discuss returns, it is the right time to plan for the longer-term wellbeing of refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh.