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Cash on Delivery is an approach to foreign aid that focuses on results, encourages innovation, and strengthens government accountability to citizens rather than donors. Under COD Aid, donors would pay for measurable and verifiable progress on specific outcomes, such as $100 dollars for every child above baseline expectations who completes primary school and takes a test. CGD is working with technical experts and potential donors and partner countries to design COD Aid pilots and research programs.
Cash on Delivery Aid is designed to overcome the problems of traditional aid, which often focuses more on disbursements and verifying expenditures than on results, undermines a government’s accountability to its citizens, and undervalues local experimentation and learning. COD Aid’s advantage is in linking payments directly to a single specific outcome, allowing the recipient to reach the outcome however it sees fit, and assuring that progress is transparent and visible to the recipient’s own citizens. These features rebalance accountability, reduce transaction costs, and encourage innovation.
COD Aid can be applied to any sector in which donors and recipients can agree upon measurable, verifiable outcomes and commit to making progress toward those shared goals. The approach is fully explained in Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid (CGD, 2010). Listen to more about COD Aid in these Wonkcasts.
The Saving One Million Lives (SOML) program for results (PforR) aims to increase the utilization and quality of high impact reproductive, child health, and nutrition interventions in Nigeria. SOML was originally created in 2012 to address Nigeria’s slow progress on improving health status and health services. Since 2015, the initiative has received assistance from the World Bank through a “cash-on-delivery” (COD) approach in which the disbursement of funds is directly linked to the achievement of specific program results. This PforR funding mechanism by the World Bank uses country systems and processes and gives health managers substantial autonomy in achieving health results. Four years into the SOML PforR’s implementation, join us to explore lessons learned.
Aid agencies are investing more in energy projects than ever before, but will they succeed? Not if they ignore the key obstacle to progress: governments that choose the status quo over serious reforms.
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.
I’ve been working on the idea of Cash on Delivery (COD) for some years under the hypothesis that if we could define good outcome indicators, someone would step forward to buy them. So what would happen if an organization came forward with a plan to supply a verified outcome in return for a set unit payment after delivery? In a sense, this is what Dispensers for Safe Water, an Evidence Action program, is currently doing.
For some time, we’ve been cheering MCC’s interest in pursuing approaches that pay for outcomes and encouraging the agency’s stakeholders to get onboard (here and here). Now we can applaud an important step forward. The agency’s new compact with Morocco, which both partners celebrated at an event last Thursday in Rabat, spells out the potential for a results-based financing component—a welcome development.
A dozen years since it was set up with a remit to reduce global poverty through economic growth, the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation recently revealed a new Strategic Plan. Deputy CEO Nancy Lee joined me on the CGD Podcast to discuss how the new plan responds to a very different development landscape.
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.
In the last of a series of three blog posts looking at the implications of complexity theory for development, Owen Barder and Ben Ramalingam look at the implications of complexity for the trend towards results-based management in development cooperation. They argue that is a common mistake to see a contradiction between recognising complexity and focusing on results: on the contrary, complexity provides a powerful reason for pursuing the results agenda, but it has to be done in ways which reflect the context. In the 2012 Kapuscinski lecture Owen argued that economic and political systems can best be thought of as complex adaptive systems, and that development should be understood as an emergent property of those systems. As explained in detail in Ben’s forthcoming book, these interactive systems are made up of adaptive actors, whose actions are a self-organised search for fitness on a shifting landscape. Systems like this undergo change in dynamic, non-linear ways; characterised by explosive surprises and tipping points as well as periods of relative stability. If development arises from the interactions of a dynamic and unpredictable system, you might draw the conclusion that it makes no sense to try to assess or measure the results of particular development interventions. That would be the wrong conclusion to reach. While the complexity of development implies a different way of thinking about evaluation, accountability and results, it also means that the ‘results agenda’ is more important than ever.
It’s quite the buzz phrase: results-based development. But what is actually meant by "results"? Dr. Raj Shah, former Administrator of USAID under President Obama, and Michael Gerson, former presidential speechwriter and Assistant for Policy and Strategic Planning under George W. Bush, have reached across a generational and political divide to share their expertise.
In recent years, donors have been making greater use of performance-based payment approaches to fund development programs. The UK Department for International Development, using the broader term being used across the UK government, has added “Payment by Results” (PbR) to the development lexicon.
The World Bank President Jim Kim has said that the next frontier for the World Bank is to 'help to advance a science of delivery'. But the problem is not that we are ignoring politics, as Kevin Watkins suggests: the problem is that we are ignoring complexity.
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.
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.”