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Cash on Delivery is an approach to foreign aid that focuses on results, encourages innovation, and strengthens government accountability to citizens rather than donors. Under COD Aid, donors would pay for measurable and verifiable progress on specific outcomes, such as $100 dollars for every child above baseline expectations who completes primary school and takes a test. CGD is working with technical experts and potential donors and partner countries to design COD Aid pilots and research programs.
Cash on Delivery Aid is designed to overcome the problems of traditional aid, which often focuses more on disbursements and verifying expenditures than on results, undermines a government’s accountability to its citizens, and undervalues local experimentation and learning. COD Aid’s advantage is in linking payments directly to a single specific outcome, allowing the recipient to reach the outcome however it sees fit, and assuring that progress is transparent and visible to the recipient’s own citizens. These features rebalance accountability, reduce transaction costs, and encourage innovation.
COD Aid can be applied to any sector in which donors and recipients can agree upon measurable, verifiable outcomes and commit to making progress toward those shared goals. The approach is fully explained in Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid (CGD, 2010). Listen to more about COD Aid in these Wonkcasts.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the newest funding source to address climate change in developing countries. With $10 billion in pledges – and $5 billion committed to mitigation – the GCF is at a critical juncture because its Board is considering the rules and protocols it will follow when it pays for results. We believe the GCF can learn a lot from existing results-based aid agreements and the state of REDD+ finance (summarized in the forthcoming report of a CGD Working Group) which demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of pay for results approaches.
There’s a growing consensus that humanitarian cash transfers can help to bridge the widening gap between needs and resources, empowering people affected by disaster and using local markets to deliver the goods and services we previously thought only aid agencies could provide.
While global development is about much more than aid, US foreign assistance is, and will remain, one of the most visible tools for US development policy in many countries. The US government spends less than 1 percent of its annual budget — about $23 billion — on nonmilitary foreign assistance across the globe. These programs have consistently come under fire for failing to achieve measurable and sustainable results, ignoring local priorities and contexts, perpetuating bureaucratic inefficiencies and inflexibility, and repeating mistakes over time. A paradigm shift within US aid agencies is needed. In this brief, we outline concrete proposals that would address many of the traditional shortcomings of US foreign aid approaches.
And the award for burying the lede goes to MCC CEO Dana Hyde. At an event hosted by Brookings and CGD Friday about MCC’s future, Hyde quietly acknowledged that the MCC is “actively engaged in pursuing” the possibility of Cash-on-Delivery Aid programs in its compacts.
After more than a decade of operations, MCC has made the shift from innovative start-up to established donor agency. “MCC NEXT,” the agency’s new, much-anticipated strategic plan, takes a hard look at how the poverty and development landscape has evolved over the past decade and stakes out the position a more mature MCC should take in this new context.
When we make presentations on COD AIDat development agencies, we are frequently told: “Oh, we’re already doing that.” The more we investigate, however, the fewer cases we find where agencies are really disbursing funds against independently verified outcomes in a hands-off fashion. We’re tempted to say “close but no cigar.”
Improving education has been a central goal of international development for decades, and the best indicators of improvement measure student performance. But can such measurements be used as incentives to stimulate more rapid improvement in education? There are no simple answers to this question since test-based measures pose a myriad of technical challenges. In this CGD Working Paper, visiting fellow Marlaine Lockheed reviews some of these challenges and the effects they could have on measuring the success of “progress-based aid” programs. She suggests four ways to successfully incorporate measures of learning outcomes into programs for progress-based aid.
Last week, CGD and Social Finance launched a new high-level Working Group to consider Development Impact Bonds, a new mechanism to enable private investment in development outcomes. Owen Barder and Rita Perakis explain.
There is nothing new about the idea that development assistance is an investment: spending money today in the hope of future benefits. Putting money into immunizing kids or giving them an education is an excellent investment in the future well-being of those people. But if there are financial returns they are often far in the future and cannot be directly linked back to the investment. For many development investments the returns are mainly social, not financial. And the absence of financial returns on a reasonable timescale could be why there is no market for investing in development. There is a small pool of investors who are willing to be paid in good karma; but most would rather be paid in dollars, sterling or euros.
Energy is critical to human welfare, yet energy consumption in developing countries is extremely low relative to modern living standards. Conventional aid programs have invested in energy production with some success but also with many notable failures. This paper discusses how a distinctive approach to development aid—disbursing funds against improved outcomes—could make aid more effective in the energy sector. In particular, it explores the use of Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid) to resolve perennial difficulties encountered by conventional aid programs in energy sector development.