This research programme was commissioned by the Advisory Board for Irish Aid. It was undertaken by a consortium including the Christian Michelsen Institute of Norway and the Economic and Social Research Foundation of Tanzania, with inputs from the German Development Institute, the Centre for Democratic Development of Ghana and researchers in Mozambique, Uganda and Malawi.
The research aimed to clarify the relations between governance and poverty reduction and within this context to explore the contributions and risks associated with new aid modalities (sector programmes and budget support). It paid special attention to Irish Aid programme countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The programme was a mixture of desk work to collect, synthesise and reflect upon existing knowledge, and targeted field research to investigate particular issues that remain contentious or obscure.
The programme’s findings were intended as inputs to the strategic thinking of the Advisory Board and the Government of Ireland during a period in which Irish development assistance is being rapidly scaled-up, posing questions about the absorptive capacity of partner countries and the effects on governance. The research results provide policy guidance on what works and what doesn’t in the field of donor support to better governance and public-sector capacity. They also suggest when, how and with what management and monitoring arrangements it may be advisable to scale-up programmes and move to new modalities.