Devpolicy News (July 15): Aid stakeholder survey | Challenge fund working group | Pac infra | ANZ aid | Future of aid | Upcoming events

The Australian aid stakeholder survey

The Australian aid stakeholder survey is now open. This is our effort to obtain feedback on the effectiveness of the Australian aid program, and suggestions for its improvement. Whether you are involved in the aid program or simply interested in it, whether you live in Australia or overseas, and whether you are on the giving or the receiving end of the aid relationship, we are interested in hearing from you. The survey will be open until the end of August. Results will be released after the Australian federal election.

You can read more about what we are trying to achieve with the survey in our accompanying blog post here.

The survey is strictly anonymous and should take no more than 15 minutes. Click here to take the survey. Please also forward to others you think might be interested.

Working group on enterprise challenge funds launched

As a follow-up to Margaret Callan’s and Robin Davies’ Devpolicy discussion paper on public-private partnerships for development, we have established a working group on the practice of using financial incentives to promote “inclusive” business through enterprise challenge funds.

Many donors have used such funds in one form or another, including Australia. Australia’s Enterprise Challenge Fund for the Pacific and South East Asia is due to close later this year after what has generally been perceived as a successful six-year run. It’s not yet clear what, if anything, might replace it.

The working group on enterprise challenge funds comprises 17 experts from around the world. Robin Davies chaired its first meeting on 4 July. It will meet twice more in July and August. We will then take stock and prepare a policy brief with findings and recommendations for release in September. If you are interested, contact us.

Pacific infrastructure maintenance: challenging the build-neglect-rebuild paradigm

Infrastructure maintenance in the Pacific: Challenging the build-neglect-rebuild paradigm has just been published by the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility, a multi-donor partnership. Devpolicy Research Fellow Matt Dornan was the report’s lead author. It can be found here [pdf – 170 pages].

The premature deterioration of infrastructure resulting from lack of maintenance has profound adverse consequences for Pacific islanders. The report uses case studies to explore both good and bad maintenance practices in the region. It details the impact of (and reasons for) inadequate maintenance in Pacific island countries and PNG, emphasising the need to consider the liabilities created by new (often donor-funded) infrastructure.

You can also see Matt Dornan’s Pacific Update report presentation slides here, and listen to his podcast here.

ANZ aid analysis

We’re pleased to release, in partnership with NZADDs, our latest discussion paper “Show me the money: an analysis of New Zealand ODA expenditure 2002 to 2011” by Joanna Spratt and Terence Wood. The authors summarise their wide-ranging research into New Zealand aid numbers in this blog post. The NZ aid program is: “small but not trivial”; important in the Pacific, and critical for three Pacific island countries; spread, in all, over 70 countries; and increasingly focused on economic development.  And that’s just a sample of their wide-ranging findings.

Meanwhile, we continued our analysis of Australian aid, with a couple of UK comparisons:

  • On July 2, Joel Negin wrote about “The DfID-isation of AusAID”. In the aid world, Joel argues, “Australia seems to follow the United Kingdom quite closely”, mirroring their results and performance frameworks.
  • On July 3, Niloofar Rafiei and Stephen Howes documented that whereas Australia has gone from being an exceptionally generous donor in 1970 to an average donor today, the UK has gone in the opposite direction, due they suggest to the “Geldof effect”.

Simon Scott on the future of aid

We had a great presentation on July 3 from the OECD DAC’s Simon Scott on the future of aid. You can view his masterful slides here and listen to his witty talk here. Both are highly recommended for anyone who wants either some historical perspective on official aid, or insights into the latest developments. Simon’s conclusions are that: ODA levels will fall for several years; there will be fewer ODA pledges in the future; a new measure of total official finance for development will be proposed; ODA may remain the standard measure of donor aid, but needs to be cleaned up; the OECD will continue to collect aid data, but probably in closer partnership with the UN.

Texts, tweets and social change: how can communications contribute to development?
Matt Abud, Oren Murphy, Nicholas Farrelly and Sarah Logan
Tuesday 30 July @ 9-10.30am
Barton Theatre, Level 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Drawing on their experience implementing programs and conducting research in Asia and the Pacific, panellists from ANU and Internews, an NGO working to strengthen information quality and access in developing countries, will discuss the potential of new communications technologies and approaches. Register here.

Value for money in aid
Tuesday 6 August @ 4-5.30pm
Weston Theatre, Level 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Value for money is the new big advance in aid, or is it? Aid agencies such as DFID and AusAID increasingly stress the importance of “value for money,” but what does this mean, and might a greater focus on results actually undermine aid effectiveness? Cathy Shutt, from the IDS at the University of Sussex (and convenor of the Big Push Forward Initiative), will critique UK approaches to value for money in aid. Russell McKay from GRM’s Effective Development Group will also speak. Other speakers will be announced shortly. For more information contact us here.

Perspectives on Global Development 2013: industrial policies in a changing world
Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre
Thursday 8 August @ 4-5pm
Molonglo Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Mario Pezzini will be presenting on the renewed interest in industrial policies by developing economies as part of their development strategies to face the changing global economic landscape. His lecture will be based on the 2013 Perspectives on Global Development, the OECD Development Centre Flagship report. For more information contact us here.

Child protection in Afghanistan
Kerry Boland, UNHCR and UNICEF consultant
Thursday 15 August @ 12.30pm
Brindabella Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Kerry Boland, a consultant to UNHCR and UNICEF, and author of Children on the Move, about children of Afghan origin moving to western countries, will talk about her experience building formal and informal mechanisms for child protection in Afghanistan. Register here.

Goals for people: a review of post-2015 proposals, and some suggestions
Robin Davies, Associate Director, Development Policy Centre
Thursday 29 August @ 12:30-1:30pm
Barton Theatre, Level 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Until recently, discussions on a new post-2015 framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals mostly revolved around general principles or else very particular features of a possible landscape. Now, several proposals for an integrated post-2015 agenda have emerged. Most prominent among these is the illustrative framework offered by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Robin Davies will give a comparative assessment of the frameworks on offer, identify some pervasive defects, and suggest ways of repairing these. For more information contact us here.

2013 Australian aid evaluation workshop
Monday 2 September @ 9am-2.30pm

In 2012 Devpolicy hosted the first Australian aid evaluation workshop, which promoted analysis and review of recent evaluations released by AusAID’s independent evaluations unit the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE). A year on we will repeat the exercise, looking at more recent reviews from ODE (on HIV/AIDS in PNG and on law and justice), debate the future of evaluation in Australian aid, and hear from ODE head Dereck Rooken-Smith and Independent Evaluation Committee chair Jim Adams. For more information contact us here.

Blog summary

You can find a summary of all posts since our last newsletter on July 1 in the list below.


The Australian aid stakeholder survey by Stephen Howes and Jonathan Pryke.

“Our interest is in broader questions: whether Australian aid is effective, and what the strengths and weaknesses of our aid program are. Of course, the fact that people say something is so doesn’t make it so. Nevertheless, in an area as difficult to assess as aid effectiveness, it must certainly be useful to know what stakeholders think.”

Eight things you should know: running the numbers on New Zealand aid flows by Terence Wood and Joanna Spratt.

“The data are getting better but New Zealand’s aid effort, measured as ODA as a proportion of GNI, is not. Or at least it has not gotten discernibly bigger over the last five years. As a proportion of GNI New Zealand aid is less now than it was in 2008.”

Australia and the UK: a study in aid contrasts by Niloofar Rafiei and Stephen Howes.

“Australia has gone from being an extraordinary donor to an ordinary one, and the UK has made the opposite journey.”

The DfID-isation of AusAID by Joel Negin.

“As a Canadian-Australian, I am largely neutral in this but do think that more diversity of opinion and perspective would benefit AusAID’s internal strategic and implementation debates.”

The World Bank’s public investment management framework by Leo Dobes.

“The PIM framework contains many sensible features… Most importantly, indicators are not combined into composite indexes, a technique that suffers from arbitrariness and bias.”

Global development policy

The new structural economics – old wine in new bottles? Part 2: the critique by Neil McCulloch.

“There is little doubt that, in theory, governments can apply a set of instruments to tackle externalities, coordination failures and information asymmetries to promote development… what is very much less clear is which instruments to apply in what circumstances. Here, Lin provides no real answers.”

The new structural economics – old wine in new bottles? Part 1: the argument by Neil McCulloch.

“New structural economics is defined as ‘applying the neoclassical approach to study the determinates of economic structure and its evolution.’ More precisely, Lin proposed that the industrial structure of a country is ‘endogenous to its endowment structure.’”

The Pacific

RAMSI: Solomons saved from sinking, but drifting and taking in water… by Tony Hughes.

“At this stage RAMSI may be seen to have materially helped to keep the leaking ship of state afloat, but not to have had the desired impact on the structural integrity of the hull, the quality of the seamanship and navigation of the crew, or the well-being of the passengers.”

RAMSI: the inconvenient truth by Shahar Hameiri.

“The inconvenient truth, however, is that RAMSI’s success to date has had little to do with its self-described mission of building state capacity and a lot to do with its unwitting facilitation of rapid expansion in the unsustainable logging, and to a lesser extent, fishing industries.”

In conversation with Francis Herman on Pacific media by Francis Herman and Tess Newton Cain.

“How do you get a newspaper out to rural areas? How do we ensure that the radio and television signal reaches every single household in the country? Those are horrendous difficulties.”

RAMSI: all good things must come to an end by Benjamin Malao Afuga.

“RAMSI’s “helpem fren” mission will leave many legacies that many Solomon Islanders will treasure but the immediate future of this country lies in the hands of Solomon Islanders. Much has been learnt and transforming the future begins with us.”

RAMSI: so near and yet so far by Ashley Wickham.

“RAMSI became an administration that paralleled SIG but had superior resourcing – both in finance and human resources. And only in a few instances was it able to demonstrate good governance of the structures in place.”


Controlling middle & backbenchers in PNG Parliament for political “stability” by Andrew Anton Mako.

“The nature of the proposed legislative changes is such that the demarcation of powers will again be negatively impacted – more powers will be amassed by the Executive Government at the expense of the Legislature. Essentially, this will lessen the noise (if any) the middle and backbenchers could make against the government.”

Responding to family and sexual violence in PNG: the case for a Case Management Centre by Stephen Howes, Kamalini Lokuge, Daisy Plana and Ume Wainetti.

“We have family support centers and we are getting support to roll them out throughout the country and also for the safe houses. But what is really lacking is our skills to manage cases, so that good and proper assistance is given to survivors.”

Ailing public hospitals in PNG: a radical remedy from Africa? By Neelam Sekhri Feachem and Jane Thomason.

“To follow Lesotho would mean that the government would need to make a paradigm shift from “provider” to “steward” of the health system. This would require both new skills, and a new way of understanding the government role in ensuring health services are provided – but not necessarily providing them.”

In Brief

17 heads are better than one: Devpolicy launches working group on enterprise challenge funds

Actually, global society has got a lot better off over the last 30 years

Tonga loses out on NZ tourism aid in plane row

France’s big “but”: the DAC reminds France what aid is for

The needle and the damage done: Abbottabad Commission on CIA’s bogus vaccination campaign

Law and order, corruption, infrastructure still top three concerns for PNG business: survey

Become effective, efficient, then scale up: BRAC explains its approach

What impact does aid have in Asia’s contested corners?

Donors give Afghan govt poor marks but reaffirm support

Will US cut Cambodia aid if Hun Sen rules again?

Aid to basic education falling: UNESCO report

‘Action men’ in PNG politics

What works and what doesn’t in international development?

Poverty in Fiji approaching 50%

UPNG VC: PNG tertiary sector reform underway

Televised forum: Aid in the Asia Pacific. Who needs it? Who pays?

Infrastructure maintenance in the Pacific: Challenging the build-neglect-rebuild paradigm

RAMSI ten years on

KFCP: begun with a bang, ending with a whimper

Rudd appoints Minister for International Development

Trafficking in persons report released: PNG performs poorly

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