Many in the development community lament that we have failed on two counts: broad audiences don’t know about unprecedented progress in poverty reduction and human development indicators in recent decades, and, if they do know, they don’t see the connection between aid programs and such progress. Despite strongs efforts on the part of development institutions to measure results, it remains hard to articulate them in a way that is compelling to nontechnical audiences—taxpayers who absolutely deserve to understand why and how development dollars are making a difference.
When the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, they were met with a mix of hope, dismay, and derision. Until we see how people respond to these goals, judgments about their specificity, complexity, and usefulness are educated guesses. At a workshop last month, I got a glimpse of two ways the SDGs may be making a difference—focusing political attention and reorganizing aid relationships.
Viral videos, crowdsourced donations, digital cash transfers for refugees—what opportunities do digital technologies present for development, and how can those of us working on policy innovation make better use of them? Mobile phones were a good start, Devex's Raj Kumar says, but we could be doing a lot more.
A new Criminal Finances Bill is making its way through the UK House of Commons which aims to make it harder for criminals and kleptocrats to use the UK financial system to launder ill-gotten gains, while minimising the burden on legitimate businesses and individuals. The bill gives expanded powers to law enforcement agencies and makes banks and other businesses liable for prosecution if they fail to prevent facilitation of tax evasion. It also introduces ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’ (UWOs). These would allow the authorities to demand explanations about any assets that appear suspicious. These measures should have both domestic and international benefits in tackling illicit financial flows.
One of the questions reportedly from the Presidential transition team to the State Department was: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?” During the nomination hearings for Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Senator Rand Paul provided one answer: seventy percent of aid is “stolen off the top.” The question is a fair one to ask. The bad news is that the short answer is “we don’t know.” The better news is that the slightly longer answer is “nowhere near 70 percent.” And the best news is that if we spent more time tracking the results of aid projects, we’d have a much better idea of where corruption was a problem and if our efforts to reduce it were working.
In 2006, CGD published a working group report that addressed the insufficient number of rigorous impact evaluations of social programs in low- and middle-income countries. Last week —marking 10 years since the report’s release—CGD and J-PAL co-hosted the event, “Improving Development Policy through Impact Evaluation,” which echoed three key messages of the 2006 report: 1) conduct more and better evaluations; 2) connect evaluators and policymakers; and 3) recognize that impact evaluations are an important global public good that requires more unconstrained funding.
As part of a joint CGD-IRC study group, we have been developing concrete ideas on how to move the global community toward providing refugees and their host communities pathways to self-reliance that can benefit all. Greater attention to education and livelihoods opportunities for refugees is a welcome development, but it is critical to ensure that new financing commitments are not simply funding business-as-usual.
Zika’s rapid spread has focused media attention on how poorly prepared both rich and less rich countries are for infectious disease outbreaks. And while it seems that we are still flailing, in fact, the international community has been trying to do better for a while. Perhaps the most significant response came in 2014 when the G7 (including the US Government) endorsed the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a partnership of governments and international organizations aiming to accelerate achievement of the core outbreak preparedness and response capacities required by the International Health Regulations.