Aid and development transparency has come a long way in ten years. In this, the first of a two-part blog series, we look back at the origins of the aid transparency movement. We reflect on the original vision of those who conceived the idea, and the journey to date including some of the successes achieved along the way.
CGD Policy Blogs
Today, we published the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) 2018, which ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries on how well their policies help the more than five billion people living in poorer countries. European countries dominate this year’s CDI, occupying the top 12 positions in the Index and with Sweden claiming the #1 spot. Here, we look at what these countries are doing particularly well in the past year to support the world’s poor, and where European leaders can still learn from others.
Today, USAID took a big step forward on a new effort that could make a real difference to the agency’s impact and cost-effectiveness.
The UK Parliament published its review of UK ODA earlier this week. The report is clear that some departments have spent aid badly and recommends the Secretary of State for International Development should “have ultimate responsibility for ODA spent across Government.” I propose that, in the spending review next year, the Development Secretary and HM Treasury should lead a new process for allocating ODA across Government.
Some development fundamentalists think that aid should never be spent directly in the national interest. At the other extreme, some people—apparently including the UK Treasury—believe all development cooperation should be directly win-win. Both these polar opposites are dangerously wrong: the truth is in-between.
While donor countries have poured significant resources into branding aid—emblazing a donor’s flag or aid agency logo on everything from food aid to bridges—the benefits of branding are iffy at best and counterproductive at worst. Studies of its impact tend to pay little attention to how branding affects the relationship between recipient governments and their publics, but evidence shows that it can have corrosive systemic impacts.
What I Want to Hear from the UK Development Secretary: How to Improve Whole-of-Government Aid Spending
Successive governments have long felt that UK Department for International Development (DFID) needs to work better with the rest of Whitehall. There have been efforts to join up better in government, sometimes successfully, but there remains a feeling in Whitehall that DFID is too tribal, too protective of its budget, and unwilling to roll up its sleeves to contribute to the government’s wider priorities including security, economic opportunities, and influence.
Even for countries that are far away from graduating from foreign aid, the importance of domestic resource mobilization for maintaining macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth is well documented. A look at the experience of countries that have received HIPC debt relief validates this point and underlines the need for attaching a high priority to tax policies and practices in international assistance programs for low income countries.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and Africa’s first elected woman president, on the impact of private sector investment, the urgency of action on climate change, and the resilience of developing countries.
As donors gather next week in Rome to pledge funds to the International Fund for Agriculture Development , they may be wondering where the United States is. Given the generally high marks this independent fund earns for development effectiveness, the uncertainty around a US pledge is troubling. In this “America First” moment, it’s worth asking when it comes to IFAD, what’s in it for the United States and what will be lost if the United States drops out?