Payment by Results: the deathknell for understanding in development


Friends and colleagues,

Payment-by-results (PBR) is set to become a far more common funding mechanism in development. Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development in the UK, has made no secret of her ambition to make PBR a central plank of DFID’s relationship with development ‘suppliers’ (as the strategy makes clear).

And this is a problem for two main reasons: Firstly, this will be the deathknell for much of the best and most effective work that takes place in development, because PBR is based on measuring rather than understanding. And secondly, PBR sounds the deathknell for many good organisations working in development, which simply cannot survive in this environment due to the huge investment that is needed as well as the financial and risk management capacity that is needed in order to engage with PBR contracts.

To take the first problem – what do we understand by ‘good’ development work?…

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