Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What's the Bottom Line?

Aid is made less effective by the incentives which aid agencies face, which they in turn transmit to their staff.  In large part, these unhelpful incentives are a consequence of lack of information about results.  If we can measure results better, and if we can use this to simplify the management of aid (and not simply bolt additional reporting on to existing bureaucratic processes),  this will enable more decentralised decision-making, respect country ownership, make the jobs of aid workers and government officials more rewarding, improve the effectiveness of aid, and so reduce poverty faster.
That is from Owen Barder's post Incentives, Results, and Bureaucracy in Foreign Aid. If you have never worked in a large aid organization, this piece will help you understand the pressures that even the best aid workers face.  And if you have worked in one of these organizations, you will find that Owen offers a ray of hope that might (just might) allow you to stop spending so much time on internal process and start spending more time on what we all care about: results.