Thursday, October 14, 2010

Delivering Aid Differently: Lessons from the Field

Book Cover
‘Delivering Aid Differently: Lessons from the Field’, is a new book by Wolfgang Fengler and Homi Kharas that was recently launched at University of Nairobi
This book argues the 200 billion dollar aid industry faces new realities from the tradition model of development assistance. What makes this book fascinating is that the author’s backgrounds i.e. Dr Wolfgang Fengler is the World Bank's lead economist in Kenya and Homi Kharas is a scholar based at the Brooking Institution* in Washington D.C. having previously worked for the World Bank.

The book has contributions from all over the place which makes it admirable that the World Bank boys sought collaboration from their African counterparts. The World Bank country Johannes Zutt did make it clear that this book is NOT a World Bank publication BUT nevertheless it offered new insights both to him and the Bank.
Other Scholars that contribute to this book include; Cut Dian Agustina (World Bank), Getnet Alemu (College of Development Studies, Addis Ababa University), Rustam Aminjanov (NAMO Consulting), Ek Chanboreth and Sok Hach (Economic Institute of Cambodia), Firuz Kataev and Matin Kholmatov (NAMO Consulting), Johannes F. Linn (Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings), Abdul Malik (World Bank, South Asia), Harry Masyrafah and Jock M. J. A. McKeon (World Bank, Aceh), Francis M. Mwega (Department of Economics, University of Nairobi), Rebecca Winthrop (Center for Universal Education at Brookings), Ahmad Zaki Fahmi (World Bank)

Book Overview
The book has ten chapters which contain six country case studies. These are;
  • Kenya,
  • Ethiopia,
  • Aceh (Indonesia),
  • Cambodia,
  • Pakistan, and
  • Tajikistan
The book has three thematic chapters. These are;
  • Joint Assistance Strategies,
  • Information Systems, and
  • Humanitarian Aid
NB: All country case studies written by scholars of aid-recipient countries.

Reviews of this book
"Can aid deliver the economic, social, and political transformations development demands, or is it condemned to small successes and failures? This is the central question that Wolfgang Fengler and Homi Kharas take on. Their approach is novel: to elicit the answers from scholars from the aid-recipient countries themselves. I commend this book to all those interested in reforming how aid is delivered so that it eventually becomes redundant."—Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, The World Bank, and former Minister of Finance, Nigeria

"This book highlights the problems faced by recipient countries in prioritizing and managing aid receipts. Its recommendation to strengthen and differentiate aid coordination and management at the recipient country level is very appropriate. Both development partners and recipient countries need a constructive discussion; and hearing the aid recipients can yield crucial insights."—Farrukh Khamraliev, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Tajikistan

Book Launch
The book was launched at University of Nairobi’s main campus, multipurpose hall 8-4-4 on September 30th 2010 at 1400hrs.

The dean faculty of arts, Prof. Njeru introduced us to the university and afterwards the World Bank Country Director Johannes Zutt had a few words. It is at this juncture he highlighted that this publication is not a World Bank publication. The director did point out that this publication was important since it gives the Bank new insights into this important field.

Dr. Wolfgang Fengler made his presentation which was very insightful. (Can download the presentation on this site
Some of the highlights for me in this presentation were;

  • Aid Can Work. From the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II to M-PESA in Kenya today, aid has often played a critical role in the development of countries.
  • The New Reality of Aid. The number of new players has increased rapidly and the demands of clients have differentiated. New players have brought fresh energy and approaches to the delivery of aid. But they have also added to fragmentation and volatility. 
The old reality of aid
The new reality of aid
The new aid architecture
  1. Demand Differentiation-A wide spectrum of clients: Fragile states, MICs, small states, etc
  2. Diversity of Donors-Traditional donors, “New Bilaterals”, NGOs
  3. Dynamics of Development-Innovation, Information, Evaluation, Scaling up
The total no of projects has quadrupled while the average size declined sharply (ODA only)
...and new players have added to increased Fragmentation (A case study of Aceh-Indonesia)
Aid to Kenya has been declining until recently...(Case Study Kenya 1981-2006)
... and donor funding has become increasingly unpredictable (Case study Kenya 1981-2006)
  • Delivering Aid Differently. Filling gaps is not sufficient. Today, aid needs to leverage knowledge, the hardest currency of the 21st century, to evaluate programs, identify success, and then scale up.

After the presentation there was an interesting panel discussion which was moderated by Prof. Michael Chege. The panel consisted of;
  • Dr. Wolfgang Fengler (author)
  • Dr. Kamau Thuge, economic secretary (representing the PS Treasury Joseph Kinyua)
  • Dr. Richard Leakey
  • Johannes Zutt (World Bank Country Director)
Among the things that emerged were the contentions of conditionality that the WB pegs to funding projects. Other issue addressed from the government side was the desire for consultation and fact checking before going to some civic societies.
Also Dr. Leakey advocated on the need for the WB to reconsider its aid dispensation. Perhaps, it should link up with Commercial Banks to facilitate low interest loans borrowing

Additional Information on the Authors
Wolfgang Fengler
Dr. Wolfgang Fengler
Wolfgang Fengler is a lead economist in the Nairobi office of the World Bank, where he covers Kenya, Rwanda, Eritrea, and Somalia. Previously, he was a senior economist in the Jakarta office and managed the Public Finance and Regional Development team.

Graduated from German Universities in 1996 (Masters) and 2000 (PhD)

Career history
Founded a number of companies, including Africa Consulting in the 1990’s
Left Germany and joined the World Bank in January 2000
Became Senior Economist for the World Bank in Indonesia in 2004
Moved to Kenya as World Bank Lead Economist in August 2009
He is a guest writer for rich.
Previously, Wolfgang used to blog at the East Asia & Pacific on the rise blog .

For more than five years he lived with his wife and three small children in Indonesia. He has been managing the Public Finance and Regional development team consisting of 27 members, predominantly national research analysts and economists.
While in Indonesia, Wolfgang worked on several activities, including a national Public Expenditure review, a sub-national support program to provinces, Aceh post-Tsunami reconstruction, Development Policy Loans and SWAPs.
Prior to joining the World Bank, he was a Fellow at the Research Institute for International Relations (now in Berlin) and set up Africa Consulting, LLC.

Wolfgang loves ping-pong and tries to play every Friday afternoon with the drivers and security guards in one of the Bank’s conference rooms. He was also part of the World Bank Jakarta soccer team and intends to continue his sports activities in Kenya.

Homi Kharas
Homi Kharas is a senior fellow for Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution. Before joining Brookings, he was chief economist for the East Asia and Pacific Region at the World Bank.

* The Brookings Institution is a non profit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. One of Washington's oldest think tanks. Brookings conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and global economy and development.

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