Waylaid Dialectic

June 11, 2014

New Zealand’s half full aid glass

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 5:38 am

A lot has gone wrong in the world of New Zealand aid in the last 6 years. Aid diverted from the purpose of helping poor people to the purpose of helping NZ businesses. Good funding schemes broken. Cows without borders. And so on. But if you want a glass half full, it is still possible to talk of one. At the same time as a lot has gone wrong. Quite a lot has stayed on track. Jo and I assess this over at Devpolicy, and argue that the main reason is the hard work of aid programme staff.

Encouragingly, even when the politics goes wrong, and when civil society (us included) fails to do much to stop it, in some instances at least there is a degree of institutional path dependency, and a good aid organisation can keep on trucking, up to a point.

July 12, 2013

New Zealand Aid Flows

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 9:22 am

My wife and I sometimes wonder whether other couples are more exciting than us. I mean we’re happy, get on well together, and go surfing when we can. But, on the other hand, we’ve just devoted our weekends for the last several months to a detailed analysis of New Zealand aid flow data. That’s not that exciting right?

Anyhow, the end product, a joint Devpolicy NZADDs working paper is now up for your reading pleasure on SSRN: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2292300

However, unless you’re every bit as boring as we are I suggest you start with the short and snappy Devpolicy blog post. Read the basics in less than 5 minutes:


Importantly, if you’re from an OECD DAC donor country you could emulate this report pretty easily. It would be great if our nerdiness went global. You can contact me via the about page of this blog if you’d like advice.

May 17, 2013

Fun Facts About New Zealand Aid

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 6:07 pm

There’s an amusing buzzfeed thread on the challenges of being a New Zealander. To which I’d add Australia envy. Budgets have just come out in Australia and New Zealand and it turns out that the increase in Australian aid next year will be larger than the entire New Zealand aid budget. My wife and I have some more New Zealand aid budget analysis up at DevPolicy.

June 3, 2011

Lost to the editor’s pen…

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 7:56 am
Tags: ,

Well, my latest post on DevPolicy was going to start with the following (note that the link is not totally work safe)…

Learning to speak Australian has been an eye-opener for me. Barely a year ago I thought that ‘thongs’ were underwear, ‘schooners’ ships and ‘Budgie Smugglers’ the sort of people CITES was set up to thwart.

But, alas, my editor (quite rightly) thought better of it. Anyhow, my most recent post on the folly of seeking one’s comparative advantage in aid is up. With a must-read being the comment made by a former AusAID staffer here.

Also, I have a guest post up on the New Zealand blog Public Address outlining what’s gone wrong with our aid programme since the change of government in 2008.

April 21, 2011

Outside the Tent

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 5:46 pm

As I’ve blogged before, the New Zealand government aid programme is currently changing for the worse.

Over at DevPolicy I’ve a post up discussing the challenges faced by the New Zealand development community as they oppose the worst of the changes.

November 25, 2010

Think Tank Seeks Name…

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 5:48 pm

We (my wife, myself, and a bunch of NZ based development academics and practitioners) are currently in the process of setting up a ‘think tank’ devoted to discussion, debate and research about New Zealand’s role in aid and development.

We’ve got people, we’ve got a plan, but we ain’t got a name. Everything we think of is either taken, tired, or tacky. But maybe you can help.

Got good ideas for a name for an aid and development think tank? Head over to this site and submit them here

[Update: lead contender to-date — AidNoodle, thanks to an anonymous Australian contributor for that one…]

November 12, 2010

New Zealand Aid Levels — did I get it wrong?

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 9:26 am
Tags: , , ,

During the talk that gave birth to this blog post, one thing I did credit the New Zealand government with was maintaining (and even slightly increasing aid levels).

I thought this to be the case as vote ODA figures from New Zealand Treasury show aid creeping up. Figures I linked to in this blog post.

This morning I stumbled across the World Bank’s excellent Aid Flows website, where I was surprised to find their numbers (select New Zealand from the donors list) showed New Zealand ODA (numbers in USD) going down in 2009. I doubled checked this with OECD DAC data (the original source of the WB numbers — here and here) and sure enough the WB’s numbers seem to be right (slight discrepancy with DAC figures but immaterial).

I can think of a few reasons for the discrepancy:

1. Exchange rate fluctuations meaning that the same number of NZD = less USD. However, this is almost certainly not the case as ODA as a percentage of GNI also fell, and any exchange movements ought to have been in our favour.

2. The Treasury numbers where estimates for the 09/10 FYr. Perhaps ODA spending never made it to the estimated levels? I think this very unlikely as Treasury estimates where probably produced close to the end of the FYr and therefore unlikely to be far out.

3. The OECD DAC data (and from it the WB Data) is reported on a calendar year basis. The info from Treasury is on a financial year basis, which means that the New Zealand aid programme may have spent relatively little in the second half of the 09 calendar year, making up for this underspend in the first half of the 2010 calendar year. This seems possible, particularly when you consider that Minister McCully didn’t actually sign off the aid programme’s allocations (which dictate, at a a high level in what areas aid should be spent) until very close to the end of 2009 — something that, as you might imagine, makes it somewhat hard for aid programme staff to do their work.

4. A portion of vote ODA for the 2009 FYr consisted of money that didn’t meet OECD DAC criteria and so wasn’t eligible to be reported to the DAC as ODA. This proportion of non-DACable ODA would have had to have been greater in 09 than 08. Seems possible, but I don’t know what would be involved here.

[Update: 5. Another possible reason — and quite likely as some other OECD DAC stats I was looking at also seem wrong — is that there’s simply something wrong with their database.]

Blog at WordPress.com.