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How does the U.S. rank in outcomes for aid money?


U.S. special envoy to Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visits Pakistani children who survived floods and live in a camp set up for displaced people in the Makli area of Sindh province, Pakistan. Concerned that U.S. help to Pakistan is not getting enough recognition, Washington is making a new push to get international aid groups who receive funds to advertise the fact.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sebastian Abbot)

By Howard Schneider
Money for foreign aid, like money for education or other basic services, is often governed by a more-is-better assumption. But the Center for Global Development has been on a drive to focus more attention on the measurable outcome of the aid and how it's making a difference in the lives of the people it is meant to help.

In conjunction with the Brookings Institution, the think tank tried to put some numbers behind the idea and on Tuesday released its rankings of which major aid programs around the world are most effective.

The study looked at issues such as how much of each aid dollar gets to poor countries (as opposed to staying "home" in administrative or other costs) and how much is used to build institutions in recipient countries.

"How much of their spending reaches the countries or stays at home? What are the transaction costs recipients face per dollar provided by different funders? Which donors share information on their disbursements with what frequency and in what detail?" the study asked.

The answers were bad news for the United States: Its aid programs finished 24th or lower out of the 31 programs studied, and was next to last in how well U.S. money helps build institutions in recipient countries. Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Norway tended to score highest among the national programs, while the International Development Association -- the lending arm of the World Bank -- was among the top-ranked of the multilateral agencies that were studied.

By Howard Schneider  | October 5, 2010; 12:53 PM ET
Categories:  International Economics  
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It's unfortunate that the U.S. is ranked one of the lowest in foreign aid spending. However, Americans can easily change this by calling their congressional leaders and stating their support for an increase in foreign aid to impoverished nations (and other relevant bills). With enough calls and attention brought to this issue, perhaps the US will eventually be on the same level as Denmark or Norway.

Posted by: clare_borgenprojectorg | October 5, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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