Claire Melamed: More Results Data Can Inform Aid Priorities

Where should the United Kingdom and other donors spend more of their aid budgets: efforts to save lives such as immunization and vaccination campaigns or initiatives to promote economic growth in developing countries? A U.K.-based aid expert says the choice is usually a “political judgment” but notes that more information about donor spending could help the public and observers determine whether a government’s choices are “good ones.”

“Aid for economic growth and aid for vaccines bring about change in very different ways,” Claire Melamed, of the Overseas Development Institute, says in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, where she also discussed the differences in measuring the results of the two approaches.

“While it’s possible to estimate that for a given amount of money you can vaccinate a certain number of kids, it’s much harder to design a credible ‘money in, results out’ formula for aid that promotes growth,” she says.

Melamed notes that the United Kingdom and other donors’ increasing focus on results could create preference for providing aid for vaccination campaigns and similar measurable approaches but adds that donors also widely recognize the importance of economic growth to the whole development process.

How can more information, particularly about the impact of both approaches, help solve this “dilemma”?

“More information about results can’t answer the question about whether aid should be spent on vaccines or economic growth. In the end, that’s a political judgment. But information can show what the impact of those decisions is likely to be, and help the rest of us to judge whether the choices made are good ones,” Melamed says.

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About the author

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    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.