Who Ya Gonna Call? Entrepreneurs!

Just a decade ago it seemed we were stuck with landlines. State-owned telephone companies were largely entrenched, sclerotic organizations that provided poor, delayed, or simply unavailable service —even in some rich European countries, and nearly universally in poor countries. These maps (with data from 2001, 2004, and 2008) show how cell phones have quickly bypassed the dysfunctional […]

Too Much of a Good Thing? Making the Most of your Disaster Donations

The global outpouring of support for people affected by the South Asia earthquake and tsunamis of 2004 added up to more than $14 billion.

One notable fact about this $14 billion is that it represents the most generous international response to a natural disaster on record. Another is that it exceeded the total estimated cost of damages from the storm by some $4 billion, or about 30 percent.

Who’s in Charge of Global Health Spending?

There’s something I’ve noticed when talking about international aid to people who work outside the development/aid community: they always assume that there’s someone, somewhere who’s in charge. The concept they seem to have in mind is something like the Deist “Divine Watchmaker”—not a bearded fellow dictating our every move, but rather a benevolent force that […]

The Unbearable Lightness of Summits

“International action” is something that everyone wants to resolve any major global problem. How well does it work in practice?

We gleaned one small insight from Chris Giles’ brilliant article in the FT on the international finance ministers’ get together in advance of the April G 20 summit. The resulting joint communiqué was a meaningless piece of diplomatic doublespeak, he said, which failed the “five tests of relevance and importance.” These included the rigorous “not test,” the “new test” and the “was it worth it?” test. We wondered how some recent aid summit documents would fare when put to some of these same tests.