CGD Policy Blogs
This is a joint post with Owen Barder
Whether future historians remember last week’s G-20 Summit in Cannes will depend on what happens in the weeks and months ahead. If the eurozone problems spiral out of control, Cannes will be to the coming crash as the 1933 London Economic Conference was to the Great Depression: a lost chance to avert calamity. If Europe muddles through, the brief association of Cannes with the G-20 will be soon forgotten and the resort will again be famous for its film festival.
It is now clear that donor coordination meetings are not the answer to making aid more effective, and donors such as USAID are becoming interested in a more decentralized ‘Google Maps’ approach to aid coordination, facilitating well-informed decisions by people on the ground. For this to work, donors need to publish detailed project level information in an open, reusable, internationally consistent data format. Some donors are not yet showing the necessary resolve.
We now know that the development system has met just one of the 13 targets it set in 2005 for making aid more effective. That is not surprising: the problems diagnosed in the Paris Declaration are real and important, but the solutions that have been pursued in its name have not been practical. There are better ways to achieve the aid effectiveness which the Paris Declaration envisages.
This is a joint post with Rita Perakis.
Has the aid industry introduced the reforms it agreed in 2005 to make aid more effective? No, according to the survey published last week by the OECD DAC. In this blog post we reflect on why this matters, and what it means for the forthcoming summit in Busan.
A Moveable Feast of Meetings: Owen Barder
The development sector is in a mess. Developing countries have to deal with a large and growing number of partners, each with separate agendas, priorities, and requirements. Meetings, reports, milestones and systems multiply. Skilled staff are hired away from governments and from business to serve in local agency offices or NGOs. Funding is fragmented and unpredictable, which means that developing countries are often unable to bring together the scale of long-term, predictable finance needed to undertake significant institutional reform and service delivery. As just one example - in Vietnam, it took 18 months and the involvement of 150 government workers to purchase just five vehicles for a donor-funded project, because of differences in procurement policies among aid agencies.
Christine Lagarde is now firmly in place at the IMF, and her competence, political savvy, and good humor bode well for the institution and the global economy. Indeed, with the crisis in the eurozone upon us, the results of CGD’s spring survey on how a managing director should be chosen at the IMF may feel behind the moment if not the times—but anyone with five minutes to spare should take a look at David Wheeler’s analysis of the results.
My Foreign Policy column this week suggests that in the Twenty-First Century, famines can only occur with the active engagement of local leadership – taking away food from producers and/or denying access to agencies delivering emergency relief. In Somalia, the leadership that is denying access is al-Shabab – the group in control of the areas of the country where famine has already begun.
Living in Ethiopia for the last three years, I saw aid working every day. I saw children going to school, health workers in rural villages, and food or cash preventing hunger for the poorest people. The academic debates about aid effectiveness seem surreal when you are surrounded by tangible, visible evidence of the huge difference aid makes to people’s lives.
One result of President Obama’s visit to the UK last month was a statement on the UK-US Partnership for Global Development in which the U.S. President and Prime Minister David Cameron “reaffirm [their] commitment to changing the lives of 1.2 billion poor people in the world today." In the statement they promise to work together on a range of important development issues: economic growth, conflict and fragile states, aid (accountability, transparency, results), global health, girls and women, and climate change.
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of co-chairing, with research fellow Ben Leo, a CGD event on the priorities and prospects of the G-20’s recently adopted development agenda. The two panels focused on African infrastructure and global food security, the central pillars of France’s development agenda for the upcoming G-20 Summit in Cannes.