Our impact
Lubaba Abdella, a child bride from the Ethiopian region of Amhara. Photo: © Clare Price/ODI

ODI works to connect our research with institutions, governments and policy-makers who can make a difference. In applying evidence to generate innovative policy solutions, we also work with public and private sectors to turn ideas into action.

Here are three examples of the impact ODI’s research, analysis and high-level convening has had in the past year.

Transforming finance ministries in fragile contexts

Finance ministries in fragile states face many challenges, including low levels of capacity, resources and transparency, exacerbated by high levels of corruption. Through its Budget Strengthening Initiative (BSI), ODI is deploying technical expertise to help governments better manage and allocate their resources.

Simon Gill, Director of BSI, explains how ODI’s expertise has helped Liberia’s Ministry of Finance to increase its national revenue.

Ending child marriage in Ethiopia by 2025

Historically, development research and programming has focused on child marriage in only one state in Ethiopia, which has resulted in a one size fits all programming approach that largely ignores the diversity of issues driving the practice.

Nicola Jones, Director of the GAGE programme, shows how ODI’s innovative research methods have supported the Government of Ethiopia’s commitment to ending child marriage.

A decade of building the evidence base for cash transfers

For the past 13 years, ODI has been a leader in building the evidence base for the use of cash transfers in humanitarian settings. The evidence for using humanitarian cash transfers is compelling: in most contexts, cash can be provided to people safely, efficiently and accountably.

Challenging the humanitarian system

Cash transfers challenge the ‘business model’ of humanitarian aid – the way that such aid traditionally has been funded, delivered and organised. The flexibility of cash transfers means that people – rather than aid agencies – determine what they need most. Cash breaks the cycle of aid being limited to the goods and services that humanitarian agencies can procure and deliver.

'This is incredibly interesting and important analysis.’ – Maria Thorin, Humanitarian Desk Officer, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

A decade of building the evidence base for cash transfers

The way in which cash programming can be scaled up has the potential to transform the humanitarian system; it can accelerate long-overdue changes in the system towards improved coordination and collaboration between actors, reduced costs, partnership with the private sector, and better transparency and accountability to beneficiaries. Expanding the use of cash transfers should, therefore, happen alongside specific measures to catalyse these wider changes and greater coordination.

Yet despite the evidence and transformational benefits associated with cash, the barriers to scaling up cash programming are considerable. It faces steep political challenges within the aid sector, with many influential agencies and actors viewing the use of cash as an existential threat to their own roles and mandates.

Realising the multiple benefits of scaling up humanitarian cash programming

In 2015, the UK Department for International Development convened the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers, inviting ODI to be the Secretariat. In this role, we have been responsible for synthesising and presenting the existing evidence and feedback from global consultations on cash transfers to the Panel; high-level convening of key actors in the delivery of humanitarian aid; and drafting, publishing and disseminating the Panel’s final report, Doing cash differently: how cash transfers can transform humanitarian aid.

‘I was very impressed by the studies already published. In particular, [the] concrete recommendations in the Ukraine study are an important contribution.’ – Alex Jacobs, Director, Cash Learning Partnership

This Panel report is a major call to humanitarian aid actors to begin scaling up cash transfers, where appropriate. The impact of this report has been wide-reaching: its recommendations informed the objectives of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016; they were heavily cited in the UN Secretary-General’s report on the World Humanitarian Summit; and formed key elements of the Grand Bargain developed by the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing and the Cash Learning Partnership’s Agenda for Cash.  

We have ensured that the momentum surrounding the report’s recommendations continues. This year, country studies offer evidence that further reinforce the Panel’s recommendations. In specific contexts in Ukraine, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nepal and Mozambique, we examined the potential for cash to be provided on a larger scale and made recommendations for how best to deliver this. We are now monitoring how others – donors and agencies working at all levels – are implementing the Panel recommendations, and the ways to further unblock barriers to change.