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The unintended effects of foreign aid: Should donors avoid, accept or act on them?

Time (GMT +01) 15:00 16:00
Image credit:Tom Wilson / Unsplash
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While foreign aid can improve lives in unexpected ways, it can also make things worse in vulnerable environments. These side effects are often not anticipated by donors at the programme design stage, nor are they measured, dissected or evaluated when they do appear.

In his new book, Foreign Aid and its Unintended Consequences (Routledge), Dr Dirk-Jan Koch, Chief Science Officer at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, puts the unintended side effects of aid under a microscope, arguing that they are non-trivial to the aid endeavour and thus require donors to better understand and grapple with them. Doing so can improve the donor industry’s likelihood of success, allow donors to pivot and make the discussion on aid effectiveness more honest.

This webinar sees Dr Koch discuss the range of unintended effects that can arise in aid relations and initiatives, as well as provide advice on how donors might tackle them. He is joined by Kristina Bayingana, Head of Internal Evaluation at the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL), who will contextualise these recommendations by asking how donors could improve their response to these unintended side effects. Geci Karuri-Sebina, Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, will offer some understanding of how these side effects play out in the Global South, and what they might mean for reforming the aid system to ensure it is prepared to expect the unexpected. Nilima Gulrajani, Senior Research Fellow at ODI, will moderate the conversation.

This event is of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about the modernisation of donor agency systems and processes, and how to deal with the inherent unpredictability of aid delivery. We encourage attendees to exchange and share their views and experiences in the Q&A session that will follow the panel discussion.


  • Dirk-Jan Koch

    Dr Dirk-Jan Koch

    Chief Science Officer, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs & author, 'Foreign Aid and its Unintended Consequences' (panellist)

  • Kristina Bayingana

    Kristina Bayingana

    Head of Internal Evaluation, Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) (panellist)

  • Geci Karuri-Sebina

    Geci Karuri-Sebina

    Associate Professor, Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand (panellist)

  • Nilima Gulrajani

    Nilima Gulrajani

    Senior Research Fellow, ODI (moderator)