Since we have talked at length about making more aid information publicly available, it is worth noting that aid transparency – and government transparency more broadly – is currently a quite hot topic, with dedicated websites, platforms, campaigns, blogs and many supporting organizations. While everybody agrees that it is a good thing, even though much still has to be done to improve information available to the publics in developed and developing countries, not everybody agrees that it will solve by itself the problems of aid coordination and accountability.
The UK has done a review of its bilateral and multilateral aid to decide what funding (to countries, multilateral organizations, programs etc.) to cut so it can get more “value for money”. One of the stronger areas of focus that are maintained is support to fragile states. I am still waiting for somebody to point out the paradox in that – that interventions in fragile states are riskier and more difficult, thus not necessarily the best way to guarantee immediate “value for money”. As the Guardian says, the “value for money” principle is less straightforward than it sounds:
Every submission to the secretary of state has to be accompanied with a value-for-money calculation. This is taken to absurd lengths; nonplussed civil servants had to find a measure of value for Mitchell’s recent visit to the UN summit on the millennium development goals, so they resorted to adding up column inches of media coverage and calculating what that would have cost as advertising.
In other aid effectiveness news, the World Bank plans to introduce a new lending instrument “Program-for-Results (P4R)“. Beyond enriching the acronym soup, does it remind you of any other suggestion for improving aid effectiveness?
Also, speaking of coordination, here is something fun.
And more miscellaneous stuff from around the web that you might find interesting:
- News on the budget debate from the US House and Senate. Plus a more general critique of the budgeting process for the lack of clear linkages between aid resources and aid goals.
- Another proposal on how to move beyond the MDGs.
- More “non-traditional” donors: Arab bi– and multi-lateral aid agencies.
- To stay in the region, Mwangi S. Kimenyi from the Brookings Institute makes two interesting point regarding the “Arab Democracy Paradox“: that the North African countries that have witnessed so much turmoil lately (in particular Tunisia and Egypt) actually had quite good human development indicators, which had risen quite rapidly in the last decades. The conclusion?
Much of the Arab world has reached a level of development that is inconsistent with its political system. As citizens in Middle Eastern countries became richer, healthier and more educated, they became much less willing to tolerate being ruled by predatory elites.
- Because it is very important to have an idea about longer-term trends in development aid, here is another round-up of how the popularity of key terms evolved over time (MDGs, Washington Consensus, Charities vs. NGOs, human rights vs. social justice etc.), put together with Google’s N-gram Viewer.