‘How DFID Learns’. Or doesn’t. UK aid watchdog gives it a ‘poor’ (but the rest of us would probably do worse)

Duncan Green - April 4, 2014

The UK Department for International Development’s independent watchdog, the  Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), has a report out today on ‘how DFID learns’. Or doesn’t. Because the report is critical and gives DFID an overall ‘amber-red’ assessment, defined as ‘programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made’. I’m not gloating here – in …

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DfID gets a red light on aid for trade: how will it respond?

admin - December 17, 2013

Oxfam aid wonk Nicola McIvor explores a highly critical report on one of DfID’s flagship programmes The problem with being committed to independent evaluation and transparency is that you risk being beaten up in public when things go wrong. Oxfam is accustomed to having our own evaluations quoted against us, which is exactly what happened to DFID last week, when the UK’s aid watchdog, the …

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How to end foreign aid and avoid a punch-up

admin - May 6, 2013

An edited version of this piece appeared on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site on Saturday The spat between South Africa and Britain over ending its (very small) aid programme has sparked another round of debate about whether British aidshould be going to middle income countries (the last round was over aid to India, which seems to particularly rile the Daily Mail). But whatever the …

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What can DFID learn from Chinese and Brazilian aid programmes?

admin - March 27, 2013

IDS researcher Henry Tugendhat (right) wonders whether UK aid is following in the path of China and Brazil Two weeks ago at the London Stock Exchange, Justine Greening announced her new policy of supporting UK businesses to invest in developing economies for the mutual benefit of both sides. According to the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development: “This is good for investors, who earn …

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The evidence debate continues: Chris Whitty and Stefan Dercon respond from DFID

admin - January 23, 2013

Yesterday Chris Roche and Rosalind Eyben set out their concerns over the results agenda. Today Chris Whitty (left), DFID’s Director of Research and Evidence and Chief Scientific Adviser and Stefan Dercon (right), its Chief Economist, respond. It is common ground that “No-one really believes that it is feasible for external development assistance to consist purely of ‘technical’ interventions.” Neither would anyone argue that power, politics and …

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What do DFID wonks think of Oxfam's attempt to measure its effectiveness?

admin - October 24, 2012

More DFIDistas on the blog: this time Nick York, DFID’s top evaluator and Caroline Hoy, who covers NGO evaluation, comment on Oxfam’s publication of a set of 26 warts-and-all programme effectiveness reviews. Having seen Karl Hughes’s 3ie working paper on process tracing and talked to the team in Oxfam about evaluation approaches, Caroline Hoy (our lead on evaluation for NGOs) and I have been reading …

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Can theories of change help researchers (or their funders) have more impact?

admin - August 3, 2012

Got dragged into DFID this week for yet another session on theories of change. This one was organized by the DFID-funded Research for Development (R4D) project (sorry, ‘portal’). A lot of my previous comments on such sessions apply – in DFID the theories of change agenda seems rather dominated by evaluation and planning (‘logframes on steroids’), whereas in Oxfam, it is mainly used to sharpen …

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Theories of change = logframes on steroids? A discussion with DFID

admin - May 14, 2012

‘Theories of Change is just the latest attempt to shine a light on what lies behind, what makes everything work or fail. We constantly reach for new tools, but we keep alighting on small islands and losing the big picture.’ Jake Allen, Christian Aid I recently spoke at a half-day DFID seminar discussing a draft paper by Isabel Vogel – ‘Review of the Use of …

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Responding to emergencies: is the centre of gravity shifting away from the UN towards national goverments?

admin - October 12, 2011

Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s Senior Policy Adviser on this kind of thing, explores the shifting sands of humanitarian aid policy After a flurry of reviews and new policies on all aspects of aid, the UK put out its new humanitarian policy, Saving Lives, Preventing Suffering and Building Resilience, a couple of weeks ago. Not every word is new – it owes a lot to the review DFID …

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