When we think of scorecards, we think of football or other sports where we want to keep track of how our favorite players and teams are doing. We at the World Bank are also a team – a team battling a very tough opponent; in fact, two opponents: poverty and inequality. While this not a “game” by any means – the stakes are high as the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world are on the line – we also want to keep track of how we’re doing.
What is the 'results agenda' and how does it relate to transformational change within development? The recent publication of a report from The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), which scrutinizes UK aid spending, has brought these questions to life once again. Here are some takeaways on the report and the need for systems thinking, accountability, and flexibility from Suvojit Chattopadhyay.
Craig Valters’ Devex post, based on yet another newsworthy ICAI report, seems to have somewhat revived the debate over the ‘results agenda'. The criticism is sharper, castigating DFID for the “unintended effect of focusing attention on quantity of results over their quality” – but also one that clearly implies that the ‘results agenda’ is not well-understood or widely shared within donors like DFID. Focusing on ‘results’ cannot mean a divorce from long-term outcomes. What ICAI describes sounds more like an outputs agenda that is transactional (what your money can buy) rather than transformative (the good change).
The consequence of this bean-counting is that complex problems risk being ignored: donors and the partners they fund will tend to focus on projects, rather than systems. Also, genuine accountability along the aid-chain takes a hit due to a general break-down of trust between the different actors. So what can we do about this?
"Transparency, is transparency, is transparency I thought.
It is transparent is it not?
Well except when it is proactive, that makes it not reactive."
My poetic dalliances aside, Helen Darbishire’s recent World Bank Institute commissioned and CommGAP financed working paper on standards, challenges and opportunities in transparency made me think. “Proactive Transparency: The Future of the Right to Information” looks at, among other things, the drivers of transparency, the best of transparency provisions on the national and international stage, and notable outcomes grown from the examination of transparency provisions. So, what exactly is proactive transparency and why is it important?
- United States
- United Kingdom
- South Asia
- Europe and Central Asia
- Information and Communication Technologies
- United Kingdom Informatino Commissioner
- Tim Berners-Lee
- the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents
- reactive transparancy
- Project Sunlight
- Proactive Transparency: The Future of the Right to Information
- proactive transparency
- presumption of secrecy
- President Barak Obama
- New York State
- Model Public Scheme
- helen Darbishire
- Freedom of Information Act
- FOI Advocates Network
- european union
- European Court of Human Rights
- Access Info Europe
Around the world, aid from international donors buys textbooks, hires teachers, and opens schools - all worthy and necessary contributions in the fight to educate every child. But largely, the development equation remains fundamentally the same.
A new book presented at the World Bank recently by the Center for Global Development flips that equation on its head with proposed progress-based aid for education. In essence, the idea entails paying a country not for inputs such as pencils or classrooms - but once each child educated passes certain bars such as completion of his or her grade level.
Earlier this summer, Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka to win the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup. Like any triumph in an international competition, there was a great sense of national pride, this time coming in a country with great need for such a unifying force. But, as Tunku Varadarajan wrote, the victory was much more than just a boost to national morale:
“As Pakistan fights for its survival against the barbarian Taliban…its people find themselves possessed of a weapon with which to vanquish the forces of darkness. I speak here not of drones or tanks or helicopter gunships, but of the glorious game of cricket.”
This is a powerful concept: that cricket is a key weapon needed to defeat the “darkness” imposed by extremism in Pakistan. But why limit ourselves to discussing the power cricket possess to fight the Taliban? What about the effects all sports have to instill happiness, empowerment, and hope in people? Could using sports for development be an unconventional tactic for the fight against poverty?