The International Finance Facility for Education: The Wrong Answer to the Right Question?

Donors are considering a proposal for a new “innovative finance mechanism” to increase funding for education, based on recommendations from Gordon Brown’s Education Commission. We agree that we need to finance an expansion of education in the developing world. But sadly, the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) proposal is too good to be true. Read the full post »

Supporting our overseas workers (student loans edition)

It is time to change the British government rule which make the children of aid workers ineligible for student finance. 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 »

Here’s a simple way to help refugees: give them cash

Rather than giving refugees food, shelter, water and medical care, it is often better to give them cash. Read the full post »

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 »
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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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 »
The roots of the Banyan Forest

Is ‘the struggle’ the baby or the bathwater?

If there is value in the process of iteration and adaptation that people and organisations go through, then might development cooperation which tries to bypass that struggle do more harm than good? Read the full post »
Details of an oil painting showing brushstrokes

Ten broad brushstrokes about development cooperation

I am discussing the the future of development cooperation, and the role of Northern NGOs,, with the policy, advocacy and campaigns team at ActionAid UK this morning.  Powerpoint is forbidden.  I'm going to paint ten broad brushstrokes about the future of development cooperation: Read the full post »
Photo of representatives at the Central African Republic Development Partners Round Table

Coordination doesn’t happen by magic

letter in today's Financial Times by Caroline FiennesDavid Hall MatthewsFran PerrinVij Ramachandran and me argues that relief efforts could be more effective if humanitarian aid agencies published details of what they are doing Read the full post »
Side view of a Border collie eating from its bowl, isolated on white

Dogfood and disruption

The new "Development Tracker" website launched in beta by DFID is disruptive in two important ways: one which will appeal especially to open data geeks, and one which will appeal to development geeks. (I am proud to call myself both.) Read the full post »
Owen Barder at a podium in front of a Standard Chartered sign

Development Impact Bonds: what do YOU think?

The Center for Global Development and our partner Social Finance has just published a big new report on Development Impact Bonds. The Working Group invites comments on the draft report over the next six weeks.

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Daron Acemoglu, Jim Robinson, Owen Barder

It’s the politics, stupid

One thing that the public knows, which many development experts apparently do not, is that poor countries are poor because they are badly governed and have institutions which prevent growth and permit a small elite to capture the nation's wealth. According to Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoğlu and Jim Robinson, the public is (as usual) basically right. Read the full post »
Colourful Recycling Bins

Waste not, want not

In which I am sceptical about a proposed new public-private partnership to tackle hunger. Read the full post »
Duncan Green against a white background

From poverty to power – Duncan Green on Development Drums

In the second of a series of three Development Drums podcasts about the relationship between citizens, states and development, Duncan Green talks about effective states and active citizens. Duncan is widely known for his terrific development blog; he is also the author of an ambitious book, From Poverty to Power, which is now out in its second edition. Read the full post »
Big Data Storage Information World Map Concept

Next steps in aid transparency a game changer?

I'm quoted in a blog post at the Economist today about aid transparency:
Ms Greening’s strategy is the requirement that any organisation receiving DfID funds publish clear information about where the money is going. This far-reaching transparency initiative is potentially a “game-changer”, says Owen Barder, a senior fellow and director for Europe at the Center for Global Development, a Washington, DC-based think tank.
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DELHI,INDIA - November 13,2014 : Ghetto and slums in Delhi India.These unidentified people live in avery difficult conditions on the ghettos of the city.

Development policy at the fin de siècle

In an article for the Guardian's (new) Global Development Professionals Network I argue that development policy in the 21st century needs be about more than administering aid. Read the full post »