Is less more?

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I’m out of practice blogging these days, but couldn’t help but notice the Financial Times line from a short while back on efforts to expand the remit of the aid industry:      

While development is a grand and multi-faceted affair, aid cannot afford to be. Modesty, focus and a willingness to make mistakes in public are assets. Simple projects have worked wonders: benchmarking exercises of red tape that have shamed politicians into action, or randomised controlled trials to show what really improves attendance and results in schools.

Lael Brainard from the Center for Global Development Brookings Global Economy and Development Program, responded:      

…responsible governments should be given more aid and more responsibility and ownership for the projects in their countries, while the worst governments should be bypassed and limited to emergency relief. Even though the individual projects would not necessarily be focused on governance reform, this cohesive strategy would create strong incentives for smart and accountable policy.

Such incentives are certainly worth creating – and in short supply.

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