Pieces of the puzzle: evidence, dilemmas and the emerging agenda for budget support

Research reports and studies
January 2012
Heidi Tavakoli and Edward Hedger

Over the past decade, the international community has come to champion budget support. Supported by donors and recipient countries alike, it has grown in prominence to make up a significant share of aid spend by some donors. Yet, budget support was hardly mentioned in documentation for the Busan Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID)—once a key proponent—is likely to cut GBS by 43% between 2011/12 and 2014/15.

In the context of a growing political consensus around the results-based agenda, there are concerns that, unless budget support can be shown to deliver broader development results without posing excessive reputational risks, the donor preference for it may diminish. So the challenge was set to explore the complex interactions that constitute budget support and its results.

In response to the current climate, ODI hosted a meeting series with a consortium of experts to try to piece together the puzzle of budget support. The purpose was to allow prominent researchers, consultants and policy advisors to discuss some of the key questions and themes surrounding budget support today; to analyse the experience of giving aid through budget support over the past 10 years; and to draw out lessons learnt to address some of challenges facing its use in the current aid environment.

This report is structured around the main meetings of the series, presenting the chair's summary for each meeting in turn.