Achieving SDGs Requires Policy Evaluations, Systems-Level Thinking

The Guardian: Buzzwords and tortuous impact studies won’t fix a broken aid system
Sabina Alkire, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, and 14 other economists

“Development efforts over the past few decades have not been as effective as promised. … Donors increasingly want to see more impact for their money, practitioners are searching for ways to make their projects more effective, and politicians want more financial accountability behind aid budgets. One popular option has been to audit projects for results. The argument is that assessing ‘aid effectiveness’ — a buzzword now ubiquitous in the U.K.’s Department for International Development — will help decide what to focus on. … [T]he real problem with the ‘aid effectiveness’ craze is that it narrows our focus down to micro-interventions at a local level that yield results that can be observed in the short term. … [I]t tends to ignore the broader macroeconomic, political, and institutional drivers of impoverishment and underdevelopment. … What we need instead is to tackle the real root causes of poverty, inequality, and climate change. … If we are concerned about effectiveness, then instead of assessing the short-term impacts of micro-projects, we should evaluate whole public policies. … In the face of the sheer scale of the overlapping crises we face, we need systems-level thinking. … It’s time that we devise interventions — and accountability tools — appropriate to this new frontier” (7/16).

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