What Can International Development Learn From Britain’s Olympic Team?

Getting on the bandwagon of identifying lessons from Team GB's relative success at the 2016 Olympic Games. Read the full post »

Do middle-income countries really get more aid than low-income countries?

Hans Rosling, using ODI data, said that middle income countries get three times as much aid as low income countries, per person in poverty. Actually low income countries get 79% more aid per poor person than middle income countries. Read the full post »

Will we be the first generation to eradicate malaria?

This isn't the first time that Bill Gates and the UK government have announced a $3bn plan to eradicate malaria. Read the full post »
UK PM David Cameron visits a 'UK AID' facility in Wiltshire. He stands in a warehouse with boxes marked UK AID.

Is the UK putting its own interests ahead of the poor in its new aid strategy?

Britain’s new aid strategy has important implications, not only for DFID but for international organisations who will either need to adapt or face losing some of their core funding. Here’s why. Read the full post »
Health worker administrates polio-vaccine drops to a child during anti-polio immunization campaign at Pak-Afghan Border on April 08, 2015

XKCD on World Polio Day

XKCD teases the innovation fetish in international development. Read the full post »

Humanitarian Cash Transfers

The Free Exchange column in this week's Economist discusses the work of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers. Read the full post »

Transforming Humanitarian Aid with Cash Transfers: High Level Panel Report

A High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers, which I chaired, has concluded that much more humanitarian aid should be provided as cash, rather than as vouchers or in-kind; and that this change should be used to bring about broader reforms of humanitarian aid. Read the full post »
A screenshot of the cover of the magazine, Great Insights, published by ECDPM

Innovative financing for development: as if social returns, incentives, and value for money really mattered

There is an article by Theo Talbot and me in the latest edition of ECDPM’s Great Insights Private Sector Matters.

We argue that rather than subsidising inputs or reducing risk to leverage private finance for development, it would be … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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On World Humanitarian Day: Could We Do Better with Cash?

World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to celebrate the courage of humanitarian workers, but also to think about how to improve the system. I am chairing a High Level Panel looking at the role of cash transfers in humanitarian aid.

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Rows of people in suits, many looking at blackberries or laptops, in the UN Conference Centre

Addis: A Good First Step, but a Terrible Last Word, for 2015

The Financing for Development Conference in July 2015 in Addis Ababa was never going to solve all the world’s development problems. The policy framework is pretty good, but will only be important if government, companies and organisations now take specific actions. Read the full post »
Ethiopian orthodox church with sunrays in Addis Ababa at dawn

What to expect from the Addis Ababa Financing for Development conference

This article appeared in The Guardian Development Professionals Network on Friday 10 July, 2015.  Development economist Owen Barder gives an insight into what the coming five days of plenaries, roundtables and side events will be all about

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An old wooden chest on a beach

Financing for development – where the treasure is buried

We won’t get development from global and domestic “tax and spend” alone. We should be focusing more on the huge untapped wealth locked up by policies and behaviour which distort the global economy, creating massive economic, environmental, and welfare losses for most of the world’s population. Read the full post »
Beth Barnes talking at TEDx Exeter

Effective Altruism

Here is Beth Barnes of Exeter College on the difference that effective altruism could make:

Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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The Ajaokuta steel factory in 1994

How should donors work with the private sector?

We are enthusiastic about the growing interest in supporting private investment in developing countries, but it matters a lot how this is done. The tools that donor countries usually use to “crowd in” the private sector — guarantees and cheap loans — distort firms’ incentives by reducing their risks or increasing their rewards irrespective of how well they do. Donors should not pick winners. Read the full post »
Ants forming a bridge across a gap

Can aid agencies help systems fix themselves?

If economic development is a property of a complex adaptive system then what, if anything, can development agencies and NGOs do to accelerate it? Read the full post »
A picture of the National Audit Office

No smoking gun – DFID and the surge in spending

Press reports about the NAO report on DFID budget management in 2013 are wholly misleading. DFID actually comes out of the report pretty well. There is a cautionary tale here for DFID, but it isn’t about the way it manages its budget. It is that the sharks are circling, and they do not seem to be very interested in the facts. Read the full post »