A recent flurry of legislative activity has seen the introduction of four bills that aim to crack down on the financing of terrorism. While it is very important to combat money laundering and the financing of terror, the actions can result in unintended negative consequences for poor countries as well. We like some things in these new bills, but they also leave a lot to be desired.
CGD Policy Blogs
“Cat” bonds are effectively a cheaper source of large-scale insurance coverage against clearly measured risks like earthquakes, storms, or even disease outbreaks. Generally, though, coverage hasn’t trickled down to the poorer and most at-risk countries—precisely those which are most vulnerable when aid fails to arrive or arrives piecemeal. Scaling up this market for lower-income countries would provide better shielding against many risks that undermine development overseas.
There is a lot of chatter about the reasons for Britain’s relative success in the Olympic games. This transformation in Britain’s sporting performance has generated a raft of tortured analogies with various non-sporting challenges, such as industrial and education policies (on which Britain’s performance is rather less stellar). So I’m leaping on the bandwagon with two lessons for international development.
When a disaster strikes, we are urged to send money, and many people do—but is there a better way to fund the relief effort? My guests this week, DFID chief economist Stefan Dercon and CGD senior analyst Theo Talbot, believe that insurance can help.
On Thursday, August 4, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a new “Environmental and Social Framework” for bank-financed investment projects. While the new policy framework has cleared the hurdle of Board approval, many questions remain. Will the new framework succeed? Will it enhance country capability and commitment to managing environmental and social risks? And will it reduce the bureaucratic hassles associated with bank lending and bolster demand?
Gasoline, Guns, and Giveaways: Is the End of Three-Quarters of Global Poverty Closer than You Think?
Amartya Sen’s famous study of famines found that a nation’s people died not because of a food shortage but because some people lacked entitlements to that food. In a new CGD working paper with Chris Hoy, we ask if a similar situation is now the case for global poverty: are national resources available but not being used to end poverty?
Depending on who you listen to, the World Bank has either just launched an unprecedented reach into the domestic political affairs of sovereign nations, or it has gutted the rules that have helped define its essential character as a global norm-setter. Both can’t be right, and most likely, neither is. To better understand the objectives of the bank's newly adopted “safeguards” regime, and why I’m somewhat encouraged by it, it’s worth looking more closely at the arguments of critics on both sides.
Aid for countries after a disaster is rooted in our best impulses, but the way we provide it urgently needs to be reformed. We spend too little on reducing the costs of future disasters, aid shows up too late, and calls for reform are met with replies of “too bad” because the poorest people bear the greatest costs. But this is a problem that we can fix.
Financing for humanitarian aid is broken. The costs of rapid- (like cyclones) and slow- (like drought) onset disasters are concentrated in poor, vulnerable countries, with a bill to donors of more than $19 billion last year. But far too often, we wait until crises develop before funding the response—what experts at CGD’s recent panel event (recording available at the link) described as a medieval approach of passing around begging bowls and relying on benefactors. The delays make crises worse. And since money shows up, however imperfectly, when things go wrong, it undermines incentives to build resilience, relegating vulnerable people to depending on fickle goodwill.
Now the Government of India and the World Bank have adopted an approach using principles we describe as Cash on Delivery (COD). The program follows three of these principles by linking payments to outcomes, not inputs; independently verifying outcomes; and allowing recipients to take the lead. India has become the single largest payer for outcomes in a nationwide sanitation initiative.