Barder: Results-based Aid Should Not Add to Bureaucracy

A man carries a sack of food aid. The adoption of results-based aid should simplify management, not add more reporting requirements to existing bureaucratic processes, according to Owen Barder. Photo by: Andy M. Kin / U.S. Marine Corps / CC BY-NC U.S. Marine CorpsCC BY-NC

The adoption of results-based aid should simplify management, not add more reporting requirements to existing bureaucratic processes. The proposed shift to an audit culture in the aid industry could be counterproductive, Owen Barder says.

“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),” Barder writes in a recent blog entry, “this will enable more decentralized 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.”

Barder, a visiting fellow of the Center for Global Development and director of aidinfo, an organization that pushes for aid transparency, explains that development professionals, especially frontline aid workers, have reasons and a right to worry that the advent of more results-based aid could lead to more complexity and bureaucracy.

The shift requires “some imagination on the part of aid agencies to think about how they can simplify their existing systems for managing aid when they link aid more robustly to results,” the development expert writes.

Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam GB, has noted that the growing trend to focus more funding on projects that deliver easily measurable results, especially within the European development community, puts “aid flow at risk.”

>> Green: Risks of the Rising ‘Audit Culture’ in Aid Industry

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.