A new focus on results? Improving basic services in Ethiopia and Somaliland

OU International Development Seminar Series 

A new focus on results? Improving basic services in Ethiopia and Somaliland

Henrietta Blackmore

Save the Children

Head, East Africa Regional Portfolio Team 


The funding environment for overseas aid and development is becoming increasingly complex, and donors continue to introduce stricter requirements to demonstrate value for money and effectiveness.  This seminar will explore current trends, focusing on Save the Children’s work in Ethiopia to consider the possible impact on our work and useful responses for NGOs and government partners.

In particular, we will look at contracting and payment by results mechanisms for delivering development and humanitarian projects.  Why would donors choose this type of agreement, as opposed to grants and MoUs?  What are the particular challenges and risks involved, and what are the opportunities: for implementers, donors and – most importantly – our partners?

There are many reasons why a renewed focus on delivering results, on achieving measureable change, should be encouraged.  If the process is transparent, it should make NGOs and others more accountable to their partners.  For implementers, it shifts the focus from detailed financial reporting to quality monitoring and evaluation.  For donors, it transfers risk.  But what are those risks?  And what could be some of the unintended consequences?  Perhaps only large organisations with significant cashflow will be able to compete, squeezing smaller, local and specialist organisations out of the picture.  Does it encourage or stifle innovation which is, by nature, more risky?  Does it create any better space for country governments, civil society and communities to direct and evaluate activities?

This seminar won’t provide all the answers to these questions, but proposes the need for critical thinking on the part of all groups involved in development work to consider the funding mechanisms and what is in the best interests of partners at home and overseas.