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Aid Effectiveness

Old School or New School, the Question is the Same: How can development institutions make measurement core to their business?

Nigel Twose's picture

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.

More Effective Aid: Don’t Just Develop Capacity – Unleash It

Tom Grubisich's picture

Photo credit: OECDThe 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?

Four cheers for the “results agenda"

Adam Wagstaff's picture
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.

A New Year’s Resolution: Closing the Gap on Trade Research

John Wilson's picture
 Photo: istockphoto.com

New Year’s resolutions are always of the lofty – but often short-lived kind.  I will go to the gym more often, lose more weight, or volunteer more often than I do now.  One resolution made by a number of  us in the Research Group of the Bank – and elsewhere, has been to find a way to get more people excited about investing in data collection and analysis on trade.  I recognize this is not the most glamorous of topics at any time of the year – but nonetheless a resolution as important as any made each year for decades as the calendar turns another page.

Here is why 2011 is different and resolutions made can be kept, however, and why data and research should be high on anyone’s development and trade agenda.
There were a number of high level dialogues in 2010 and 2011 related to global finance, trade, and development issues.  These included the High Level Summit on the MDG’s in September 2010 and the G20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010.  These events provided important opportunities -- in the post-crisis environment – to inform priorities going forward on aid effectiveness and trade.  The President of the Bank, Mr. Zoellick, outlined in October 2010 -- in a very high profile speech at Georgetown University – a new vision of development economics which included new ways of looking at and advancing research tied to make aid more effective and inclusive.

A role for the G20 in aid for trade?

John Wilson's picture
Port of Rades, Tunisia. Photo: © Dana Smillie / World Bank

As the G20 looks to establish itself as a permanent fixture in the multilateral policy dialogue, it should consider the global aid-for-trade agenda a top priority. The Summit in Seoul next month presents a unique opportunity to take concrete action in new directions on aid for trade.

The G20 originated – in part – as a global financial crisis management forum, and expanded out of the G8, in the wake of the 2008 world economic crisis. The Group has gained momentum and is solidifying its unique position as the most influential decision making group on global economic stability and growth. As it looks to solidify its transition as a global “steering committee” to sustain sound global growth what better policy issue to champion than one that is high profile, critical to both developed and developing countries, and in need of more effective global coordination -- than aid for trade?  

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."

Harnessing development’s information shadow

In a previous post, I introduced the concept of development’s information shadow (mediated from Tim O’Reilly), arguing that the development world will gradually produce an increasing amount of digital data with a relationship to real world objects (think, for example, of a digital map of safe drinking water sources in a given location).

Development 2.0: The skills gap

No summer lull for the Development 2.0 world, it would seem, judging from recent activity: from Richard Heeks’ paper on Development 2.0: Transformative ICT-Enabled Development Models and Impacts to a comprehensive checklist comparing “old school development” with Development 2.0 aid; from Idealware’s

Is the mainstream ready for output-based aid?

There is an ongoing conversation in the development community, certainly amongst donors, about the need to make sure that aid is well spent and reaches the people it is intended to help. Most recently the UK shared its vision for international development, highlighting Value for Money and the use of results-based approaches.


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