Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 01/2011

Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid

Nancy Birdsall, Ayah Mahgoub, William D. Savedoff

November 2010

Center for Global Development


Foreign aid often works, but it is often criticized for being ineffective or even for undermining progress in developing countries. This brief describes a new approach, Cash on Delivery Aid, which gives recipients full responsibility and authority over funds paid in proportion to verified measures of progress. Through the example of using COD Aid to support universal primary-school completion, the brief illustrates a practical approach to aid that holds the promise of making aid more effective and less burdensome by fundamentally restructuring the relationships of accountability among funders, recipients, and their respective constituencies.