Skip to content

Forum for the Future of Aid

Southern Voices for Change in the International Aid System Project

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next

organised by ODI

Should Donors Deliver Aid Through Developing Country Government Budgets? The Case of Ghana

By E. Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD)

OECD donor countries channel about US$ 5 billion – some 5% of their aid – directly to the budgets of developing country governments. The OECD in their report - "An Evaluation of General Budget Support (1994-2004)", showed that this system of delivering aid was an effective way to strengthen the management of public financial systems in developing countries, and also helped to improve access to services like healthcare and education.

Recently, an evaluation of Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS)to Ghana was carried out jointly by the Overseas Development Institute in London and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) in Accra. The main findings are presented in an ODI briefing paper. Professor Gyimah-Boadi, the Executive Director of CDD and a prominent member of the MDBS Evaluation team tells the Forum on the Future of Aid (FFA) what he thinks of MDBS in Ghana...

"I like the concept of MDBS. I support it in principle because it aims to provide much needed resources for a democratically elected government to fulfil pledges and promises made in its election campaign and which constitute part of its mandate. Moreover, MDBS has the potential to stimulate domestic accountability processes - as more resources are channelled through the budgetary process.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that Ghana’s MDBS has helped to reduce domestic debt stock and contributed to increased public spending in poverty-reducing sectors such as education and health. MDBS has helped to orient the “Christian democratic” NPP administration towards poverty reduction and somewhat away from its initial focus on “wealth creation.” In addition, participation of non state actors and of civil society and independent research and advocacy organizations in the budget process has begun to grow over the period of MDBS.

However, I remain concerned about other aspects of the MDBS. It is irresponsible for donors to write a cheque to a government and then look the other way. There is substantial risk that rather than empower, MDBS resources would be abused by government. This imposes a difficult-to-enforce obligation on donors to ensure that recipient governments are not only democratically elected but that that there are adequate mechanisms for domestic civil society to hold government accountable.

In the absence of official transparency and effective domestic accountability mechanisms (which remain the case in Ghana today), MDBS resources are subject to capture by personal and private networks in control of the state and resources may be allocated in partisan ways to kin/ethnic groups and cronies. Despite credible elections and given the weak involvement of parliament in the budgetary process, there is a real risk that MDBS resources would be diverted principally to serve the interests of NPP administration and the individuals that control the executive arm of the government."

Please send your response to this opinion to or click on 'add new comment' below

Other relevant resources
Evaluation of General Budget Support.
OECD DAC Network on Development Evaluation.

A review of Multi Donor Budget Support

How MDBS works in Ghana

Multi-Donor Budget Support and Capacity Development: Emerging Lessons from Ghana

Multi Donor Direct Budget Support in Ghana. The implications for Aid Delivery and Aid effectiveness
Centre for Policy Analysis, Ghana

The GPRS and Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS): Strengthening the Links of Accountability – the Role of Parliament
World Bank

The GPRS and Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS): Strengthening the Links of Accountability – the Role of the Media
World Bank

From earmarked sector support to general budget support: development partners experience - Analysis of Norwegian donor budget support

General budget support evaluation study phase 1: final synthesis report Projects to programmes: does budget support improve the quality of governance in developing country contexts?

Effects of budget support: a discussion of early evidence: Review of General Budget Support programmes

Does general budget support work? Evidence from Tanzania"

Money can’t buy you love: Partnership prospects for donor budget support

Further GBS related resources on the Gerster Consulting homepage

Amartya Sen review of “White Man's Burden?

Amartya Sen, Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, reviews The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly.

According to Sen the book offers important insights about the pitfalls of foreign aid. However, he criticises Easterly's attack on global "do-gooders" arguing that aid can work when implemented correctly.

Log In or Join

Resource Categories

Size of tags indicates the number of resources
Absorption Accountability Africa Aid Architecture Aid Architecture Aid effectiveness Aid linkages Aid modalities Aid organisations All regions Asia Pacific Bilateral Donors Budget Support By Region Capacity Development Conditionality Corruption CSOs Debt Relief Domestic Resource Mobilisation Donor Coordination Mechanisms Economic Growth Education Effects of aid Emergencies Environment Europe Food Aid Gender Good Humanitarian Donorship Governance Harmonisation & Alignment Health Hot Topics Humanitarian Aid Quality Institutions Latest trends Latin America and Caribbean Macro impacts/Dutch Disease MDGs Middle East Multilateral and International (governmental) Organisations National Policy Frameworks/PRSs Natural Disasters NGOs Ownership Productive Sectors Public Expenditure Management/Budget Sector Programme based approaches Technical Assistance Trade Vertical Programmes/Global Initiatives Workshops

Recent Forum Posts

  • The Paris Declaration is Gender Blind
  • The urgent need for transparency and accountability
  • Your Support is needed in Egypt
  • Independent People's Tribunal on the World Bank Group
  • South and the future of the world

Suggest a Resource

If you would like to suggest a resource for the Forum on the Future of Aid, please email