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For millions facing emergency situations in developing countries, international humanitarian assistance is a vital lifeline, funded through global generosity and administered by a wide range of well-meaning organizations. Yet the humanitarian system reaches too few people, allocates resources inefficiently, and is often out of step with what vulnerable populations say they most need. CGD develops cost-efficient policy options for moving the humanitarian system away from the fragmented, duplicative, and supply-driven model of today, toward a more coherent, efficient, and demand-driven model for the decades ahead.
In recent years, cash transfer programming (CTP) has emerged as one of the most significant innovations in international humanitarian assistance. The Cash Learning Partnership estimates that $2.8 billion was spent on cash and voucher programming in 2016, up 40% from 2015 and nearly double since 2014. Cash and voucher programming has demonstrated positive outcomes in addressing food security, access to education, healthcare, and economic recovery, in addition to supporting choice and dignity among affected populations.
Bangladesh and its partners should explore the compact model and consider the inclusion of three ideas that would yield the level of ambition necessary to generate a sustainable response: European Union trade concessions, migrant worker opportunities, and partnership with China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Speculation about the future of the State Department’s Population, Refugees, and Migration bureau has swirled following the Trump administration’s moves to curtail refugee admissions, and a proposal to eliminate the bureau and distribute its components to the Department of Homeland Security and USAID. But I fear that diminishing or removing an empowered humanitarian voice from the State Department weakens humanitarian priorities in US policy writ large. And I believe there are ways to address legitimate concerns about the existing structure without dismantling PRM.