Collier: More aid information needed in Haiti

Paul Collier argues in this Monday’s Independent that there is currently a lack of information on the cost-effectiveness of aid, which is resulting in major challenges channelling aid in Haiti in ways that will have the best impact.

Currently neither aid agencies nor citizens of rich countries can assess the cost-effectiveness of the NGOs which they fund. To determine the best route to channel resources, more information is needed to show the comparative performance and results of each.
The present lack of data has also meant that efforts remain uncoordinated. Collier argues for a ‘hybrid agency run jointly by government and donors [which would] take in money from the donors and disburse it to the frontline – the NGOs, churches and local communities’ which may allow for a more aligned approach.
However, a ‘hybrid’ serves mainly to address the issue of ownership. The Haitian Government needs to know what is being done in the country if there is any chance of it leading its development strategy in the future. Furthermore, if NGOs are seen to deliver most aid, this renders the government ‘not visibly providing services, its predominant interface with citizens is as a tax collector, regulator, and bribe taker’; which can do further harm to an already weak citizen-state relationship.
More and better information on aid is essential in making decisions about where to put resources – the relative cost effectiveness of different aid delivery channels. Greater transparency must be the starting point for this. With comprehensive, timely and comparable data, and the ‘use of information technology to empower ordinary users of services’ aid spending will be increasingly effective and accountable, ensuring that citizens in both donor and recipient countries are given the best value for money.
To read the article, click here.

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