Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs

 

My World AIDS Day Wish: Data and Greater Transparency

After almost five years (yes, it’s been that long!) of tracking and analyzing key features of the design, delivery and management of top global AIDS donors, several key policy debates have emerged from the HIV/AIDS Monitor’s country-level studies. Perhaps the most prominent was our call for greater information and data transparency, because we found that the lack of data made effectiveness analysis difficult, if not impossible.

Following the Money: Owen Barder on Why Aid Transparency Matters

Lawrence MacDonald is traveling this week, so we're re-releasing an episode from our archives. This interview was originally posted on March 22, 2010.

My guest this week is Owen Barder, a visiting fellow here at the Center for the Global Development and the director of the AidInfo project at Development Initiatives, a UK-based NGO. Owen's current work focuses on improving the transparency of the international aid system—making it easier to know where and how aid is being spent.

Owen explains that more easily available aid data would benefit a number of audiences. Researchers and policymakers need the data to study what aid interventions work best. Developed country taxpayers have a right to information on how government is spending their money. Developing country governments need information on donor spending in order to budget their own resources effectively. However, according to Owen, the most important audience for aid data are the citizens of developing countries-the intended beneficiaries of the spending.

"They need to hold their government to account, they need to hold service delivery organizations to account," he says. "And to do that, they need to know what services they should be expecting, what money is being allocated, what's being spent, so they can make sure they're getting the services they need."

Connecting Citizens: Rakesh Rajani on Public Accountability in East Africa

The Wonkcast is taking a brief summer vacation. We've selected this show from our archives- it was originally posted on March 30, 2010.

Has technology boosted the ability of citizens in African countries to influence their governments? This week, I'm joined by Rakesh Rajani, founder and head of Twaweza, an initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in Tanzania and other countries in East Africa. His organization has made good use of both new and old technologies—cellphones, TV, and radio broadcasts—to expand the ability of citizens to access government information and hold their leaders accountable.

Rakesh tells me that cellphone use has exploded in the last decade in Tanzania, rising from perhaps 200,000 users to over 14 million today. Except for the most remote areas of the country, he says, just about everyone can access a mobile phone. That new connectivity, Rakesh explains, has opened new channels for reducing corruption in government.

Enhancing the Transparency of U.S. Aid to Pakistan: It Starts with a Click

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai.

Everyone (John Kerry, Richard Lugar, Richard Holbrooke, and, yes, CGD’s own Nancy Birdsall) agrees our aid program in Pakistan needs to be more transparent. Transparent aid can help to counter the widespread mistrust and misinformation about U.S. practices, and could also allow Pakistani civil society to play a role in monitoring how governments and NGOs spend money. On the other hand, the status quo—a dearth of publicly accessible information on program objectives and spending -- “creates confusion and unnecessary speculation in Pakistan,” as Senator Kerry put it, “and limits the potential of the policy community and allies at home.”

The Gulf Gusher & Africa’s Offshore Oil Boom: Todd Moss and Vijaya Ramachandran

Todd Moss & Vij RamachandranAs the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew thousands of barrels of oil each day, media attention has been focused on the toll on nearby economies and ecosystems and on the U.S. political response. On this edition of the Global Prosperity Wonkcast, we look beyond the Gulf of Mexico to explore what implications America’s biggest environmental disaster might hold for the new offshore oil boom getting underway in Africa.

Senator Lugar: Greater Transparency, Clear Objectives Needed for U.S. Aid to Pakistan

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai and Molly Kinder.

Senator Richard Lugar’s new opinion piece on Foreign Policy’s website lays out the case that a strong economic partnership with Pakistan is in U.S. national interests. Lugar argues that the recent failed bombing in Times Square and the subsequent arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who had received bomb-making training in Pakistan’s volatile FATA region, is only a further reminder of how critical cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan remains.

Fighting Corruption in Nigeria: Nuhu Ribadu

Nuhu RibaduCan a few brave souls make a difference in the fight against corruption? My guest on the Global Prosperity Wonkcast this week is Nuhu Ribadu, the former head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or EFCC and a visiting fellow here at the Center for Global Development.

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