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Linking Aid to Results: Why Are Some Development Workers Anxious? (Guest post by Owen Barder)

I am pleased to share with our readers at Owen’s request this discussion of Cash on Delivery Aid, which appeared yesterday on his blog, Owen Abroad.

Linking Aid to Results: Why Are Some Development Workers Anxious?

By Owen Barder

The Center for Global Development is working on an idea which they call Cash on Delivery aid, in which donors make a binding commitment to developing country governments to provide aid according to the outputs that the government delivers. I think this is a good idea in principle, and hope that it can be tested to see whether and how it could work in practice. The UK Conservative party have said in their Green Paper that if they are elected they will use Cash on Delivery to link aid to results.

Linking aid more closely to results is attractive from many different perspectives. My own view is that linking aid directly to results will help to change the politics of aid for donors. Many of the most egregiously ineffective behaviours in aid are a direct result of donors’ (very proper) need to show to their taxpayers how money has been used. Because traditional aid is not directly linked to results, donors end up focusing on inputs and micromanaging how aid is spent instead, with all the obvious consequences for transactions costs, poor alignment with developing countries systems and priorities and lack of harmonisation. If we could link aid more directly to results, I think donors will be freed from many of the political pressures they currently face to deliver aid badly; and it would be politically easier to defend large increases in aid budgets.

Copenhagen: Why China is Mostly Right

China recently announced it will reduce the emissions-intensity of its economy (ratio of emissions to GDP) by at least 40-45 percent by 2020. But in Copenhagen it is resisting making that promise an internationally binding commitment. That’s a big problem for the U.S. negotiators, since the Congress is adamant: the U.S. will not commit until and unless the Chinese do too.

It's One Climate Policy World Out There—Almost

As climate talks get underway in Copenhagen, the specifics of an agreement to slow global warming and adapt to its effects are far from settled. My guest on this week's Wonkcast, Jan von der Goltz, has spent the last few weeks surveying views in the global development community about what these specifics should be.

Will There Ever Be Any Serious Reform of World Bank Governance?

At our recent event with former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, who chaired the High Level Commission on Modernization of World Bank Group Governance on World Bank governance reform (report is here), panelists Moises Naim and Arvind Subramanian worried that there is no reason to expect the powers-that-be to take up any of the recommendations for reform.

On Nick Kristof, Helping the World’s Poor, and Big Aid

In a masterful essay this past Sunday on how we can help the world’s poor (that was the title), Nicholas Kristof managed to honor Jeff Sachs (“indefatigable”) and Bill Easterly (“powerful and provocative book”).

But he probably has set off another round of the “ferocious intellectual debate” between those two and their adherents. That’s because he didn’t really get to the question the ferocious debate is actually about.

Chapter 6! Development as Proven Poverty Reduction

I have just posted a draft of chapter 6 (.doc and .pdf). [Update: comments from Nancy Birdsall and Eben Lazarus incorporated.] More than any other so far, this draft incorporates text from this "open book" blog, forging a richer link between the two media. By the same token, regular readers of this blog will find less new in the chapter.

Please Take the CGD Climate Agreement Survey!

Yesterday I sent this letter to CGD contacts who have expressed an interest in our work on development and climate change. But it really should be of interest to all in the development community. If you share my view that climate and development are inextricably intertwined, please read on, take the survey, and tell your friends to take it, too!

Thanks!

November 19, 2009

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