Summary of “Which Foreign Aid Programs Work? The U.S. Runs A Test”

Which Foreign Aid Programs Work? The U.S. Runs A Test – But Doesn’t Want To Talk : Goats and Soda USAID has launched a series of experiments to see how traditional aid compares to giving people cash.
Although he’d only been with USAID for two years, Handel had already grown concerned over what he saw as an agency habit of spending enormous sums on programs to help poor people, only to boost their incomes by a fraction of the program’s per-person cost.
So Handel went to his bosses at USAID’s Rwanda office and proposed an experiment: Take one of USAID’s typical programs and test it against cash aid.
He is currently overseeing these tests from a new position, senior adviser on aid effectiveness at a USAID research unit in Washington, D.C. USAID would not grant permission for Daniel Handel or any other agency official to do an interview with NPR. The account of his wife playing him the radio story and his subsequent experiences launching the cash-benchmarking experiments were described to NPR by multiple sources, including former USAID colleagues who worked extensively with him on the experiments.
For years, anti-poverty advocates and researchers have complained that the U.S. government doesn’t do enough to make sure its aid programs actually work.
It said, in part, “Cash-benchmarking is not relevant to most of USAID’s programs.” The statement further noted that this particular experiment was “Very limited” and commissioned “Under the Obama administration,” and concluded that “There is not sufficient evidence that this approach can be applied to development programs on a broader scale” even as USAID “Is consistently looking for ways to develop, test and validate new and innovative approaches.”
Handel quickly hammered out a plan to collaborate with the charity on launching a cash aid venture in Rwanda that could be tested by USAID as part of what became a $4 million venture.
As hard as it was to launch the cash-benchmarking experiments, “The true test will be how USAID acts on these results.”

The orginal article.