2010.06 Nadia Molenaers, Linas Cepinskas and Bert Jacobs | Budget support and policy/political dialogue - Donor practices in handling (political) crises

Abstract

Budget support entered the aid scene at the turn of the millennium and it is considered as the aid modality par excellence to foster ownership and more effective aid through institutional reform. In 2008-2009 a number of political events in aid receiving African countries however pointed at the difficult relation between budget support and (political) governance. The paper analyzes donor policies and practices surrounding policy/political dialogue and budget support and offers a number of policy recommendations on where and how to deal with "political" issues. Based on a desk study carried in March-May 2010 at the request of the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, the paper presents a substantial analysis of Mozambique and Zambia where two recent political crises were successfully resolved by five donor countries. The authors argue that using budget support to drive both democratic and economic change is hazardous. Acknowledging the synergy between policy and political dialogues, the paper posits that technocratic and democratic issues should be separated because there are obvious trade-offs between them. Democratic governance issues should be dealt with in a separate high level forum, and in a pro-active rather than reactive way. In addition, donors need to ensure their interventions do not undermine recipient countries efforts to democratize. In effect, they should lower their ambitions: 1) with regard to what they can do: change cannot be bought, it can only be supported; 2) with regard to what recipient governments can do: even when there is commitment, change is most often gradual, not in big leaps. If anything, politics and political savvy should be brought in more, because every reform (however technocratic) is profoundly political.

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2010.05 Mulubrhan Amare Reda & Germán Calfat | Food Aid Impact on Poverty Reduction: Empirical Evidence from Rural Households in Ethiopia

Abstract

Ethiopia is one of the highest food aid recipient countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Despite the magnitude of the aid, its impact as development resource is inconclusive in both theoretical and empirical evidences. This paper evaluates the impact of food aid on poverty reduction making use of an Ethiopian rural longitudinal household survey data (ERHS) primarily collected in 1999 and 2004, with the purpose to add empirical evidences on the existing debate on food aid. Besides, it deals with the correlation of poverty assets which has fundamental importance for policy implication and the choice of appropriate development strategies. 
We used separate regressions on determinants of welfare growth for food-for-work (FFW) and free-food-distribution (FFD) programs. The results show that access to information, initial endowment, household characteristics, and shocks were the main determinants of escaping from poverty and food aid dependence. The results from the poverty profile, difference-indifferences matching and switching regression support the fact that participation in FFW or FFD programs reduces poverty. However, some indicators from the analysis showed that both FFW and FFD programs have targeting efficiency problems and differ across regions, which indicate that there is room for improvement in the distribution of food aid through targeting the poorest and geographically based intervention linked with productive investment.

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2010.04 Gert Van Hecken, Johan Bastiaensen and William Vásquez | Institutional Embeddedness of Local Willingness to Pay for Environmental Services: Evidence From Matiguás, Nicaragua

Abstract

The concept of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) has gained increasing popularity in the conservation literature as it offers the potential to reconcile opposing social and ecological objectives by paying land owners for the positive environmental externalities they generate on their land. Based on extensive fieldwork in Matiguás, Nicaragua, this paper aims to complement the literature on locally-financed PES schemes in agricultural watersheds. Using both qualitative and quantitative research approaches, it inquires into the under-researched demand-side potential by assessing local willingness to pay (WTP) for water and watershed services in an upstream-downstream setting. Our results show a significant WTP for improved water services and a clear local consciousness about upstream-downstream interdependencies, suggesting potential for a 'Coasean' water-related PES scheme. Contrary to expectations, the feasibility of such a locally-financed PES system is however undermined by prevailing local perceptions of agricultural externalities and entitlements, questioning the fairness of such payments. Also low levels of mutual trust seem to undermine the credibility of the PES framework. The viability and acceptance of locally-financed PES mechanisms will thus also depend on the prior social production of cognitive synergies and improved collective action.

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2010.03 Koen De Koster and Nathalie Holvoet | Managing Multilaterals' Effectiveness: Which way forward?

Abstract

There has been an increase in the attention paid to the measurement of the performance of development aid and of aid agencies. While the monitoring and evaluation of aid delivered by bilateral agencies has been a well-established practice for quite some time, the measurement of the performance of Multilateral Organizations (MOs) by bilateral back-donors, and the use of this information in improved bilateral policies towards these same MOs is more
recent. But of late there has been a mushrooming of bilateral initiatives that try to assess MO performance. Currently bilateral donors seem to be moving toward a more harmonized approach through the introduction of assessments that are organized by networks of donors. How the information from these assessments is being used in policy-making, however, is far from clear.
This paper analyzes the current state of affairs in the field of assessing multilaterals. It feeds into the debate on how bilateral donors should effectively and efficiently manage the performance of the MOs they fund. The analysis of three country cases (Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) reveals significant differences in the performance management of multilaterals by bilaterals. The paper examines these differences in the light of the literature on performance measurement. It argues that while donors are increasing their efforts in measuring the performance of multilaterals, the use of this information often remains insufficient. The good example set by the UK is closely linked to administrative and political features of this country and difficult to just duplicate by other countries. The field of managing the performance of MOs remains scattered, unsystematic, and above all, challenging.

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2010.02 Mateo Ambrosio-Albalá and Johan Bastiaensen | The new territorial paradigm of rural development: Theoretical foundations from systems and institutional theories

Abstract

In recent decades, a new paradigm for public policies in rural areas has made headway. This new approach aims to support economic and institutional transformation processes designed and implemented by local rural actors themselves. It argues for the building of local partnerships as a tool for the governance of rural change. 
This paper reflects about the governance of development and change in rural areas. It builds a conceptual framework from two complementary theoretical sources: (a) complexity theory views on the governance of resilience and (b) institutional theories. Given the impossibility to predict and plan social change in a top-down fashion, it stresses that change requires that actors of a social system construct a sufficiently shared vision of a desired future state and manage to act together in order to 'navigate' the pathway towards that aim. Capacity for territorial governance is also critical in rural governance of resilience. System resilience refers to the capacity of actors to adjust the desired pathway whenever external shocks threaten its viability, or in certain cases, impose the need for a more fundamental change in the prevailing system and the desired pathways of change. 
 

We argue that these theoretical inspirations provide a useful substantiated underpinning for the territorial paradigm of rural development and allow us to show why and how the local partnership has the potential to improve the governance and the resilience of rural territories. We also develop a number of further reflections about the challenges of such partnerships, in particular the difficulties emerging from heterogeneous interest and power of local actors.

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2010.01 Jos Vaessen |Challenges in impact evaluation of development interventions: opportunities and limitations for randomized experiments

Abstract

In recent years debates on as well as funding of impact evaluations of development interventions have flourished. Unfortunately, controversy regarding the promotion and application of randomized experiments (RE) has led to a sense of polarization in the development policy and evaluation community. As some proponents claim epistemological supremacy of REs (with respect to attribution) the counter reaction among others has been rejection. Needless to say, such extreme positions are counterproductive to reaching a goal that is commonly endorsed: to learn more about what works and why in development. This paper discusses the prospects and limitations of REs from the perspective of three categories of challenges in impact evaluation: delimitation and scope, attribution versus explanation, and implementation challenges. The implicit lesson is twofold. First of all, the question 'to randomize or not to randomize' is overrated in the current debate. Limitations in scope, applicability as well as implementation will necessarily restrict the use of REs in development impact evaluation. There is a risk that the current popularity of REs in certain research and policy circles might lead to a backlash as too high expectations of REs may quicken its demise. More importantly, given the nature and scope of the challenges discussed in the paper, more energy should be devoted to developing and testing 'rigorous' mixed method approaches within a framework of theory-driven evaluation.
 

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