Aid

Aid flows to developing countries stood at $128.5 billion in 2010, with new aid donors continuing to emerge, particularly across the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and with the growth of private philanthropists. Many supporters of aid argue it must be scaled up, particularly across Africa, if the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be achieved.

UN peacekeeping soldiers collect supplies from Tebnine hospital to deliver to people in Lebanon. Credit: Jenny Matthews / Panos

However the role of aid (or development cooperation) in international development is hotly contested. Current concerns include whether recipient governments have the capacity to absorb aid, and its potential to have negative effects on achieving long term fiscal, institutional and political reforms. There are also ongoing debates about whether traditional donors can deliver on their commitments to increase aid, with concerns about public support for aid in donor countries.

In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world, questions have been raised about whether international aid bureaucracies are able to adapt and remain fit for purpose.

IDS research on aid is aiming to understand and inform these debates. For example:

Brazil and International Development Cooperation

Brazil is a founding member of the BRICS group, Latin America's largest economy and the world's sixth-largest economy. The Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) programme is looking at Brazil's growing role in the field of international development cooperation. More details

China and International Development Cooperation

China is now the African continent's biggest trading partner, and also involved in a wide range of development cooperation projects including in agriculture, health and social policy. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of China in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Critical Research Social Justice and International Aid

Seminar series for inter-disciplinary discussions on the relationship between research, aid and social justice More details

Ebola: Lessons for development

IDS researchers argue that there is an urgent need to look beyond the immediate, on-the-ground concerns of disease control and containment to consider the bigger and broader questions about international development. More details

India and International Development Cooperation

Trade and investment linkages between India and the African continent have been growing rapidly, and recently, its role providing foreign assistance has become more prominent. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of India in the field of international development cooperation. More details

International Public Opinion Monitor

The International Public Opinion Monitor aims to understand how everyday citizens see the world in which live, and how their attitudes change (or not) over time. More details

Public Perceptions of International Development in the UK

With the world economy in a major downturn, the stakes for developing countries could not be higher. Public support for international development and aid will play a key role. But is there a domestic consensus on the UK's role in international development and what are its contours? More details

Russia and International Development Cooperation

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was redefined as an aid recipient, but in 2007, it officially signalled its intention to reverse this role. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of Russia in the field of international development cooperation More details

Strengthening the Capacity of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China for South-South Cooperation

This project, funded by the Chinese Government's Ministry Of Commerce, is aimed at addressing how IDA is given to developing countries (particularly Africa) and if there are ways of improving China's development assistance to create opportunities for independent development. More details

The New Bottom Billion

New IDS research shows that the global poverty 'problem' is changing. There is a new 'bottom billion' of 960m poor people or 72 per cent of the world's poor who live not in poor countries but in middle-income countries (MICs). More details

View all Research Theme's publications

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This is the front cover to the book 'The Aid Lab'.

The Aid Lab: Understanding Bangladesh's Unexpected Success

From an unpromising start as 'the basket-case' to present day plaudits for its human development achievements, Bangladesh plays an ideological role in the contemporary world order, offering proof that the neo-liberal development model works under the most testing conditions. More details

ER218_FrontCover

China–UK–Africa Trilateral Cooperation on Trade and Investment: Prospects and Challenges for Partnership for Africa’s Development

IDS Evidence Report 218 (2017)

This study was conducted in the context of the China–UK Cooperation on African Trade and Investment for Poverty Reduction. It focuses on the evolution of bilateral relations between China and the UK towards trilateral relations with Africa and on building a framework for future cooperation. More details

This is the cover to IDS Bulletin 47.6, 'Engaged Excellence'.

Engaged Excellence

IDS Bulletin 47.6 (2016)

Who defines what good quality research is? How, why and who should we co-construct knowledge with? What counts as impact? How do we build enduring partnerships? The articles in this IDS Bulletin aim to answer these questions based on IDS’ approach of ‘engaged excellence’. More details

ER205_FrontCover

The UN at 70, and the UK. Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Action, and Peace and Security: Lessons from Experience and Policy Recommendations

IDS Evidence Report 205 (2016)

2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the UN, a good moment for reflection about the strengths, weaknesses and priorities for change needed in the world’s most all-embracing international organisation which had already existed for over three times longer than the League of Nations. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Rapid Response Briefing 14, 'What Role Does the European Union Play in International Development?'

What Role Does the European Union Play in International Development?

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 14 (2016)

As a body of 28 member states and with a combined GDP of close to US$20tn, greater than that of the US, the actions of the European Union (EU) have the potential to impact heavily – either negatively or positively – on international development cooperation. More details

ER184_FrontCover

Report of a High-level Roundtable on Rising Powers and Global Development, and Launch of the Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development

IDS Evidence Report 184 (2016)

This high-level roundtable meeting, held on 22 April 2015, was co-hosted by the Institute of Development Studies, the Development Research Center of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, and the China International Development Research Network. More details

PB111_FrontCover

China’s Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with Africa

IDS Policy Briefing 111 (2016)

Convened in South Africa in December 2015, the 6th Meeting of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) culminated in the Johannesburg Action Plan under the theme ‘China–Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development’. More details

ER170_FrontCover

Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development: Learning Events 2015

IDS Evidence Report 170 (2016)

This report provides an overview of the objectives of and discussions held at two learning events held by the IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme/Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development in 2015. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 462, 'Towards a Global Reporting System for Development Cooperation on the SDGs: Promoting Transformational Potential and Impact'.

Towards a Global Reporting System for Development Cooperation on the SDGs: Promoting Transformational Potential and Impact

IDS Working Paper 462 (2015)

The proposed SDGs constitute a comprehensive, universal and interactive agenda of structural transformations as the pathway to sustainable development, leaving no-one behind while creating green economies. More details

Strengthening_Evidence_Based_Policy_2015

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 459, 'Design, Monitoring and Evaluation of Resilience Interventions: Conceptual and Empirical Considerations.

Design, Monitoring and Evaluation of Resilience Interventions: Conceptual and Empirical Considerations

IDS Working Paper 459 (2015)

As resilience programming gains more and more prominence as an approach for addressing chronic vulnerability of populations exposed to recurrent shocks and stressors, empirical evidence will be needed for measuring how well households, communities, and systems manage shocks and stressors and how interventions and programmes that are designed to strengthen these capacities, perform. More details

This is the cover to Aid on the Edge of Chaos.

Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World

Many agree that the foreign aid system - which today involves virtually every nation on earth - needs drastic change. But there is much conflict as to what should be done. In Aid on the Edge of Chaos, Ben Ramalingam argues that what is most needed is the creative and innovative transformation of how aid works. More details

Report cover for joint IDS-VSO research on the role of volunteers in sustainable development.

The role of volunteering in sustainable development

This report shares findings from the global action research project, Valuing Volunteering which explores how and why volunteering contributes to poverty reduction and sustainable positive change, and the factors which prevent it from doing so. It reveals that volunteers can make a unique contribution towards efforts to end global poverty. More details

PB91_FrontCover

Is China’s Role in African Fragile States Exploitative or Developmental?

IDS Policy Briefing 91 (2015)

China’s increasing engagement in Africa has generated heated debates over the extent to which its activities are exploitative or developmental. More details

This is the cover to International Aid and the Making of a Better World.

International Aid and the Making of a Better World

Book (2015)

How can international aid professionals manage to deal with the daily dilemmas of working for the wellbeing of people in countries other than their own? More details

ER99 Front Cover

The HANCI Donor Index 2013: Measuring Donors’ Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries

IDS Evidence Report 99 (2014)

This report presents the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) 2013 for donor countries. More details

PB75 Front Cover

Understanding China’s Approaches to International Development

IDS Policy Briefing 75 (2014)

China’s impressive economic growth and increasing development activities overseas, particularly in the African continent, have spurred intense debate and criticism over its role as a rising power in international development. More details

ER95 Front Cover

Indian Development Cooperation: the State of the Debate

IDS Evidence Report 95 (2014)

In this changing landscape, India is becoming an important player . India’s increased volume of development cooperation or DC (particularly to African countries), its clearer articulation of a rejection of ‘traditional’ aid principles, and its growing role as a representative of emerging economies that aim to act as a bridge between the North and South have led to it becoming a key figure in shaping the future of international DC. How is this new role being perceived domestically? More details

Strengthening_Evidence_Based_Policy_2014

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

ER91 Front Cover

Rising Powers in International Development: the State of the Debate in South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 91 (2014)

South Africa occupies an interesting position in the international development debate. On the one hand, as Africa’s most developed, diversified and, until recently, largest economy representing close to one-third of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), it is an active player in numerous global governance and development fora. More details

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