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Owen Barder is a Vice President at the Center for Global Development, Director for Europe and a senior fellow. He is also a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics and a Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee. Barder was a British civil servant from 1988 to 2010, during which time he worked in No.10 Downing Street, as Private Secretary (Economic Affairs) to the Prime Minister; in the UK Treasury, including as Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and in the Department for International Development, where he was variously Director of International Finance and Global Development Effectiveness, Director of Communications and Information, and head of Africa Policy & Economics Department. As a young Treasury economist, Barder set up the first UK government website, to put details of the 1994 budget online.
Disaster aid is often too little, too late. Pressure on aid budgets is prompting donors to find ways to handle more crises with less funding. But the current model of discretionary, ex-post disaster aid is increasingly insufficient for these growing needs, and does little to create incentives for governments in affected countries and donors to invest in risk reduction and resilience. This framing paper sets out how the global community can do better.
There is much uncertainty now about how the UK will respond to Thursday’s referendum result calling for Britain to leave the European Union. The effects on developing countries—and development cooperation—will depend in part on what is agreed in the coming months and years. But here is some speculation about the possible threats that Brexit implies, and a (rather shorter) list of the possible opportunities.
The European Union is a unique and inspiring association. We are alarmed that a narrow majority of the British people might choose to destroy that by voting to leave the European Union, undermining our ability to secure our foreign, economic, and international development interests. This would be harmful for Britain and for the rest of the world.
Europe has been caught off guard by recent asylum-seeker arrivals, prompting what some have called a threat to the survival of the EU. However, we have shown that Europe has admitted and integrated much larger numbers of refugees in the past. So why have countries been so overwhelmed this time around? One major hurdle has been assessing the validity of such large numbers of asylum claims.
When it comes to development aid, you might think that there is a trade-off between head and heart: that more generous donors would be less serious about making sure that their aid is used properly. But in a new CGD working paper, we find that In general, more generous donors tend also to be the most effective. One possible explanation of this correlation is that much of what we consider to be effective aid involves donors putting the interests of the intended beneficiaries of aid ahead of the interests of the donor country.
In a recent TV documentary, Professor Hans Rosling suggested that middle-income countries (MICs) get three times as much aid per person in poverty as countries which are further back in their development. Is aid being spent disproportionately in MICs? As you would expect, countries are diverse, and so too is the amount of aid they each receive. We show that the apparent under-allocation of aid to low-income countries (LICs) calculated by ODI, which is cited by Rosling, depends heavily on the choice of averages.
Our migration team has kicked off a new research program on forced migration to better understand people’s motivation to flee their homes, and the implications this has for the legal migration framework. What space does the current system have to accommodate individuals who do not qualify for formal refugee status?
International aid works, but it could work much better. Reform efforts focused on better planning often ignore what constrains aid agencies and takes the bite out of their commitments. In this working paper, Owen Barder shows how forming a "collaborative market" around aid—one marked by transparency and collective regulation—would pave the way for more effective aid.
Rory Stewart MP gave a wise speech about how Britain can play a role in global peace and stability. In my brief response to the Minister, I suggested twelve policies which are within our control which would help create conditions for stronger, more peaceful, more prosperous countries to thrive, and so reduce the risks of future conflict and instability. Here they are.
Why does poverty persist across so much of the world, despite billions of dollars in international aid and the efforts of development professionals? William Easterly’s answer, as proposed in his new book, The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, is a lack of respect for liberty—not just on the part of governments of impoverished countries but also, more provocatively, on the part of the development experts.
Making Markets for Vaccines: Ideas to Action presents the proposal from theory to practice, by showing how a commitment can be consistent with ordinary legal and budgetary principles. A draft contract term sheet is included, highlighting the key elements of a credible guarantee.
Millions of people face hazards like cyclones and drought every day. International aid to deal with disasters after they strike is generous, but it is unpredictable and fragmented, and it often fails to arrive when it would do the most good. We must stop treating disasters like surprises. Matching finance to planning today will save lives, money, and time tomorrow.