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  • Author: Owen Barder, Hannah Timmis, Arthur Baker
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: here 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.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Foreign Aid, Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Jeremy Konyndyk
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The FY 2020 budget request released by the White House last month contained a sweeping proposal to rationalize and streamline US government humanitarian assistance programs overseas. The proposal would merge the three humanitarian budget accounts (International Disaster Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and Food For Peace Title II); strip programming responsibilities from the State Department’s refugee bureau and consolidate them entirely in a new humanitarian bureau at USAID; and establish a vaguely described “dual hat” senior leader role to oversee humanitarian activities at both USAID and the State Department. The proposed changes would be the most significant overhaul of USG humanitarian structures in decades. The proposal in its current form is unlikely to get much traction in Congress, where it is seen on both sides of the aisle as dramatically weakening US leadership on refugees. In light of other moves by the administration—like slashing refugee resettlement numbers and treating asylum seekers roughly—that is a legitimate and vital concern. There is ample reason to approach the proposal with caution, particularly the idea of stripping away the refugee bureau’s resources.
  • Topic: Foreign Aid, Budget, Refugees, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Caitlin McKee, Ian Mitchell, Arthur Baker
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: 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. QuODA uses 24 quantitative indicators based on how aid is given, grouped into four themes: maximizing efficiency, fostering institutions, reducing the burden on recipient countries, and transparency and learning. These are based on principles which donor and recipient countries agreed to in a series of high-level meetings on aid effectiveness. We find UK aid quality has decreased from 2012 to 2016 and now ranks 15th out of the 27 countries assessed. The quality of its multilateral aid is relatively strong with significant contributions to EU institutions who score in the top half of multilateral agencies, and well-above the UK’s bilateral aid. We analyse the UK’s bilateral aid in detail, identifying areas of relative strength but also four recommendations for the UK Government to improve aid effectiveness
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Foreign Aid, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Devesh Kapur, Arjun Raychaudhuri
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Since their inception, through 2012, the institutions comprising the World Bank group have been involved in lending nearly a trillion dollars. In this paper, we focus on the IBRD, which is the core of the World Bank. The IBRD has the potential to continue to grow and be an important player in official financial flows, supporting critical long-term development projects with large social returns, in sectors ranging from infrastructure, social sectors, or environment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Foreign Aid, Infrastructure, World Bank
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alan Gelb, Anton Dobronogov, Fernando Brant Saldanha
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Natural resources are being discovered in more countries, both rich and poor. Many of the new and aspiring resource exporters are low-income countries that are still receiving substantial levels of foreign aid. Resource discoveries open up enormous opportunities, but also expose producing countries to huge trade and fiscal shocks from volatile commodity markets if their exports are highly concentrated. A large literature on the "resource curse" shows that these are damaging unless countries manage to cushion the effects through countercyclical policy. It also shows that the countries least likely to do so successfully are those with weaker institutions, and these are most likely to remain as clients of the aid system. This paper considers the question of how donors should respond to their clients' potential windfalls. It discusses several ways in which the focus and nature of foreign aid programs will need to change, including the level of financial assistance. The paper develops some ideas on how a donor like the International Development Association might structure its program of financial transfers to mitigate volatility. The paper outlines ways in which the International Development Association could use hedging instruments to vary disbursements while still working within a framework of country allocations that are not contingent on oil prices. Simulations suggest that the International Development Association could be structured to provide a larger degree of insurance if it is calibrated to hedge against large declines in resource prices. These suggestions are intended to complement other mechanisms, including self-insurance using Sovereign Wealth Funds (where possible) and the facilities of the International Monetary Fund.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies. First, governments misreport to foreign donors, as in the case of a results-based aid program rewarding reported vaccination rates. Second, national governments are themselves misled by frontline service providers, as in the case of primary education, where official enrollment numbers diverged from survey estimates after funding shifted from user fees to per pupil government grants. Both syndromes highlight the need for incentive compatibility between data systems and funding rules.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Charles Kenny, William Savedoff
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: 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 the traditional approaches which monitor and track the purchase and delivery of inputs and activities. The paper begins by classifying different corruption costs and specifically distinguishes the problem of diverted funds from the costs associated with failing to generate benefits. It then characterizes the key differences between traditional input-tracking programs and results-based approaches in terms of how they are supposed to work, the implicit risks that preoccupy designers, how they function in practice, and what this means both for the scale of corruption and the realization of benefits. It then considers the conditions under which one approach or another might be more appropriate. The paper concludes that input-tracking approaches are vulnerable to corruption because they have high failure costs and a weak track record for controlling diverted funds. By contrast, results-based approaches are less prone to failure costs and limit the capacity of dishonest agents to divert funds unless those agents first improve efficiency and outputs.
  • Topic: Corruption, Development, Foreign Aid, Governance
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Gabriel Demombynes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Millennium Villages Project is a high profile, multi-country development project that has aimed to serve as a model for ending rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The project became the subject of controversy when the methodological basis of early claims of success was questioned. The lively ensuing debate offers lessons on three recent mini-revolutions that have swept the field of development economics: the rising standards of evidence for measuring impact, the “open data” movement, and the growing role of the blogosphere in research debates.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The United States government has made repeated declarations over the last decade to align its assistance programs behind developing countries' priorities. By utilizing public attitude surveys for 42 African and Latin American countries, this paper examines how well the US has implemented this guiding principle. Building upon the Quality of Official Development Assistance Assessment (QuODA) approach, I identify what people cite most frequently as the 'most pressing problems' facing their nations and then measure the percentage of US assistance commitments that are directed towards addressing them. By focusing on public surveys over time, this analysis attempts to provide a more nuanced and targeted examination of whether US portfolios are addressing what people care the most about. As reference points, I compare US alignment trends with the two regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) – the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Overall, this analysis suggests that US assistance may be only modestly aligned with what people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America cite as their nation's most pressing problems. By comparison, the African Development Bank – which is majority-led by regional member nations – performs significantly better than the United States. Like the United States, however, the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrates a low relative level of support for people's top concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America, Latin America
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Denizhan Duran
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Health is one of the largest and most complex aid sectors: 16 percent of all aid went to the health sector in 2009. While many stress the importance of aid effectiveness, there are limited quantitative analyses of the quality of health aid. In this paper, we apply Birdsall and Kharas's Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) methodology to rank donors across 23 indicators of aid effectiveness in health. We present our results, track progress from 2008 to 2009, compare health to overall aid, discuss our limitations, and call for more transparent and relevant aid data in the sector level as well as the need to focus on impact and results.
  • Topic: Development, Health, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Foreign Aid