An old black and white photograph taken in 1944 at the Conference in Bretton Woods that gave birth to the World Bank and the IMF shows a roundtable of men in grey suits meeting to design the future multilateral system.
Today, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) will open in Busan, Korea. The HLF-4 is an opportunity for the global development community to come together and showcase the results that our partner countries have been producing, and to shape the future course of the aid effectiveness agenda in a dramatically changing global development landscape.
Even skeptics admit it: effective aid works. In the last 25 years, the share of poor people in developing countries has been cut by half, and the last decade has witnessed impressive development successes in countries once thought beyond help. read more...
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
The World Bank and IMF have received much press attention in recent weeks in Kenya. The Kenyan Kazi Kwa Vijana (“work for youth”) initiative, which the Bank was supporting through its Youth Empowerment Project, and Government’s decision to request substantial IMF funding to support macroeconomic stability have been the source of heated debates in parliament.
In recent years, the aid industry has been a focus of critical examination and the object of debate.
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.
He said it in Washington; now he has said it again in London. Who? Former UK premier Tony Blair, speaking at ODI on governance and leadership for development in Africa.
What has he been saying? That the better governance low-income Africa needs is about getting better leadership (here understood as ‘effective capacity to get things done’) – not just a matter of more transparency and greater accountability.
Last week, President Zoellick gave a speech at George Washington University in which he outlined his vision of how the aid agenda should adapt to what he described as “shifting tectonic plates,” which has seen the world change dramatically since 1944 when the Bretton Woods system was established. This shift has created a world in which developing countries are now the drivers of the world economy while the developed world is facing severe economic headwinds.
In Zoellick’s vision of a “world beyond aid,” international assistance would be “integrated with—and connected to—global growth strategies, fundamentally driven by investment and entrepreneurship. The goal would not be charity, but mutual interest in building more poles of growth.”
Firms maximize their profits by developing strategy with targets, tracking progress, and using incentives to drive achievement. Without the natural feedback of the market, how can we use this approach to drive toward results for the poor?
One of us works for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – an old school Bretton Woods institution with years of experience building systems to track results across countries. The other one of us works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an entrepreneurial organization that is much newer on the block, without some of the systems that come with fifty years of development work but also without the preconceptions. We come to the table with a desire to learn from each other’s experience. We hope this first blog will pique input from colleagues around the world, similarly passionate about the power of data to improve our business.
The authors of this post, Tom Grubisich and Jennifer Lentfer, will be co-moderating the session “Winds of Change: Will They Bring a New Paradigm to Development Assistance?” at the Civil Society Forum of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. Here is the full schedule of sessions with the Civil Society Forum. The session will be held on Friday, April 15, at 2 p.m. in the C1 Level of the Main Complex of the World Bank (room 100). A livestream of the roundtable will be available and you can also follow the discussion that day on Twitter via #windsofchange.
The Arab awakening in North Africa and the Middle East is shaking up what has been a slow-moving effort to reform the effectiveness of development aid. The awakening and aid reform share common goals – affirming human rights, social justice and transparency. As events in the Middle East continue to fundamentally reshape society, we must ask: How can development assistance also be reshaped to put more power in the hands of the people?
|Photo © Dominic Sansoni / World Bank|
The development community hasn’t exactly only just woken up to the fact that development is about achieving something. Projects have had logframes since time immemorial, showing how project activities and spending are expected to lead ultimately to development outcomes—things that matter to people, like health and learning. But the “results agenda” (an agenda that dates back to 2003 but which seems to be gaining momentum) has the scope to be transformative in at least four ways.
1) Work backwards, not forwards
First, it invites us to work backwards from these things that matter and think about alternative ways to achieving these outcomes. Take education. A lot of projects in the Bank and other development agencies have focused on building and rehabilitating schools, with the expectation that this will lead to higher school enrollments. And yet as my colleague Deon Filmer showed a while ago, proximity to a school has very little effect on the likelihood of a child enrolling in school. By contrast, as he and Norbert Schady showed in another paper, providing scholarships to poor children does increase enrollments.