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Aid Effectiveness

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Worth Every Cent
Foreign Affairs
In a Foreign Affairs article last year, we wrote what we hoped would be a provocative argument: “Cash grants to the poor are as good as or better than many traditional forms of aid when it comes to reducing poverty.” Cash grants are cheaper to administer and effective at giving recipients what they want, rather than what experts think they need. That argument seems less radical by the day. Experimental impact evaluations continue to show strong results for cash grants large or small. In August, David McKenzie of the World Bank reported results from a study of grants of $50,000 on average to entrepreneurs in Nigeria that showed large positive impacts on business creation, survival, profits, sales, and employment, including an increase of more than 20 percent in the likelihood of a firm having more than ten employees.

No, Deaton’s Nobel prize win isn’t a victory for aid sceptics
A lot of fuss has been made this week about the latest winner of the Nobel prize in economics, British-born economist Angus Deaton, and his apparent aversion to foreign aid. Predictably, much of the press has taken his victory as a vindication of their suspicions on aid. It’s worth getting a few things straight though. Deaton did not win the Nobel prize for his criticism of aid. He was awarded the prize for his analysis of inequality and creation of better tools with which to analyse living standards amongst the poorest people in the world. Deaton is, in fact, more of a critic than an opponent of aid. In the same way that a film critic doesn’t hate all films (although it sometimes seems they do), Deaton doesn’t hate all aid.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

A simple solution for better economic performance - empower women
The Nation
Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and one of the world's most influential women, made an interesting remark last weekend.  "We have estimates that, if the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in the United States would expand by 5 per cent, by 9 per cent in Japan, and by 27 per cent in India," she told the inaugural summit of the Women's 20 (W-20), a new grouping launched by the G20, in Turkey.  She said that aside from boosting gross domestic product, getting more women into secure and well-paid jobs raises overall per-capita income.

Dealing with digital in media development —7 things to consider
Deutsche Welle Akademie
When colleagues from DW Akademie asked me to contribute some reflections on media development, I found myself in the difficult position of having to find a common ground for the term. Between regular Facebook updates sent by a friend working with a local radio station in Southern Sudan, a conversation I had here in Malmö/Sweden with a recently arrived Syrian refugee who used to work for state television, or the daily discussions about media, globalization and development that we have in our academic environment, it is difficult to find common ground.   But then again, when all these impressions and reflections sink in, some broader issues emerge. I have summarized them under the following seven points:

Access to Information: Aid Effectiveness is the True Test

Kate Henvey's picture

Are citizens receiving the greatest development impact for their development dollar? This is the same question I asked when the Publish What You Fund Aid Transparency Index was released in October 2013.

This week I found myself asking the same question as the 2013 World Bank Access to Information Report was released, highlighting how the Bank’s Access to Information Policy has provided the framework for the institution to emerge as a global leader in transparency and openness.

 “Of course, data and knowledge are not an end in themselves,” President Jim Kim noted in the opening message of the report, “ultimately the true test of our effectiveness is how we use this evidence to change the lives of over a billion people in extreme poverty.”

Mainstreaming Civil Society Participation at the Annual Meetings

John Garrison's picture

The participation of civil society representatives at the World Bank and IMF’s Annual Meetings, which brings together the world’s finance ministers to discuss international development policy, has grown steadily over the past six years.  The most recent Annual Meeting, held in October 2011, saw the largest CSO participation to date, with a total of 600 CSO representatives from 85 countries in attendance. They represented a variety of civil society constituencies: non-governmental organizations, youth groups, foundations, faith-based groups, and trade unions.  They came to discuss a broad range of issues ranging from financial transactions tax and aid effectiveness, to energy policy.  In order to ensure that Southern CSO voices are also heard, the Bank and Fund sponsored 60 CSO and Youth Leaders from developing countries to participate in the Meetings. 

The Revolution Will Not Be Donor-Harmonized

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

It's hard not to be inspired by Nick Kristof's article on "The D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution" in the New York Times. His detail-rich story of energetic, socially conscious people routing around the bureaucracy of large aid organizations to tangibly and directly improve people's lives in the developing world is both important and thought-provoking. And it helps reframe the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of development assistance from one of "nothing works" to "there are so many ways to make this work."

The Politics of Non-Transparent Aid Flows

Sina Odugbemi's picture

My attention has been tickled by the news that at the recent High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana, donors apparently agreed to launch an initiative known as the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Under the initiative, according to the DFID press release on the subject, donors have agreed to give:

- Full and detailed information on all aid in each country affected
- Details and costs of individual projects and their aims
- Reliable information on future aid to improve planning by recipient governments.

I hope the initiative will be seriously implemented. But it will not be easy. And the main reason it will not be easy is that the instinct of the technocracy that dominates every aspect of international development is to be non-transparent.