This Friday: “Best and Worst of Aid” Conference

For aid watchers in New York, this post is a reminder of Development Research Institute’s upcoming conference this Friday, from 9 am to 2 pm, in NYU’s Kimmel Center. Called “The Best and Worst of Aid: Incentives, Accountability and Effectiveness,” speakers and participants will present new findings and discuss and debate the best and worst of what happened in aid this year.

(According to some rumors, the irrepressible light-hearted side of DRI will give Oscar-style Best of Aid Awards – and of course, Worst of Aid Awards – in several important categories).

9:00 am: Welcome and Introduction Yaw Nyarko, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of DRI

9:10 am: Aid and Development Today: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times William Easterly, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of DRI

10:00 am: The Best and the Worst of International Effort on Failed States Clare Lockhart, CEO, Institute for State Effectiveness

10:50 am: Coffee Break

11:05 am: Keynote: What Works and What Does Not Work in Aid and the Transformative Challenges Ahead Isabel Guerrero, Vice President, South Asia Region, World Bank

11:50 am: Thoughts on Aid from a Ugandan Perspective Andrew Mwenda, Founder & Owner, The Independent, Uganda

12:30 pm: Lunch Served

12:45 pm: Lunch Keynote: Historical Lessons: What Did Development Aid Do Best? What Did It Do Worst? Lant Pritchett, Harvard Kennedy School

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. (More details here. Register here.)

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How About a Free Press to Hold Aid to Africa Accountable?

Courageous independent Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda was featured in a mass circulation magazine last weekend, getting some well-deserved recognition. mwenda.JPG

Mwenda has been in and out of jail for his criticism of the (aid-supported) authoritarian Ugandan government. He was a recipient of the International Press Freedom Award for 2008.

Mwenda started his own independent newspaper (known appropriately as the Independent) in Uganda, after complaining the government was curtailing the freedom of the newspaper where he previously worked.

He also is a frequent critic of aid agencies’ operations in Africa for tolerating corruption and poor results, which caused Bono to heckle him in a famous confrontation at the TED conference in Tanzania in 2007.

A free press is an important way in which we hold our governments accountable in rich democratic countries. Why shouldn’t Africans have the right to freedom of the press as well?

Mwenda will be speaking at the NYU conference “What Would the Poor Say? Debates in Aid Evalution” this Friday, February 6.

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DRI to Host Conference on Aid Evaluation

On February 6th, NYU's Development Research Institute (DRI) will host What Would the Poor Say: Debates in Aid Evaluation, a one-day conference with the leading thinkers in development economics. The conference will take place at New York University, where participants from universities, NGOs, the independent media and the private sector will add to the dialogue on how to make aid agencies accountable for the most effective solutions to global poverty. A list of speakers and panelists follows, but for a complete schedule of events, go to DRI's website. The conference is free and open to the public, but space is limited and filling up quickly. To reserve a place, RSVP to with your name and affiliation.


Yaw Nyarko (NYU), Welcome and Introduction

Esther Duflo (MIT), The Evaluation Revolution and the Aid Providers

William Easterly (NYU), The Big Picture on Aid Accountability

Panel 1: Evaluation: Issues in Transparency and Accountability

Andrew Mwenda (The Independent, Uganda), Independent Media in Africa and Foreign Aid

Nancy Birdsall (Center for Global Development), New Methods for Motivating Results in Aid

Dennis Whittle (Global Giving), Accountability in Decentralized vs. Centrally Planned Aid Systems

June Arunga (BSL Ghana Ltd.), Foreign Aid from the African Business Point of View

Lant Pritchett (Harvard), The Political Economy of Evaluation

Panel 2: Issues in Evaluation

Leonard Wantchekon (NYU), Independent Evaluation and the Reaction of Official Aid Agencies

Ross Levine (Brown University), Evaluating the Economics: Finance and the Aid Agencies

Karin Christiansen (Publish What You Fund), Aid Transparency as a Prerequisite

William Duggan (Columbia Business School), Pragmatic Learning from Success and Failure

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