What do we want to know?
This systematic review, conducted on behalf of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), examines the impact that multi-donor trust funds (MDTFs) have had on aid effectiveness.
Who wants to know and why?
It is a generally accepted belief that multi-donor trust funds (MDTFs) are a key component in increased aid effectiveness, and over recent years they have become standard aid financing modalities in a variety of contexts, particularly in fragile, post-conflict environments.
What did we find?
The study search results demonstrated a lack of scientifically rigorous studies in this area and most of the documents were from what is considered ‘grey literature’: fund administrator reports and independent evaluations conducted on behalf of fund administrators. After applying four rounds of inclusion/exclusion criteria based primarily on the rigour of the study methodology and the level of analysis of the search results, 24 documents remained. Each of the reports in the final set of included documents examined individual funds, thereby lending themselves to comparative synthesis.
What are the implications?
This report discusses the results of that synthesis and provides recommendations for future policy strategies for MDTF implementation, operation and evaluation. The conclusions stress the need for further research into the effectiveness of MDTFs as an aid modality. A financial analysis of supported funds to determine their value for money would be particularly important to donors and policy makers. Future studies must examine MDTFs as a whole, rather than simply tracking the progress of individual projects the funds support, as current studies do. General guidelines for fund implementation, as well as a compilation of best/worst practices for MDTF design and implementation are needed, and should be widely circulated amongst stakeholders. Expectations for MDTF scope and effectiveness should be realistic and take context and operating environment into consideration. Future MDTFs should be structured around clearly defined and commonly-agreed upon goals. They should be based upon realistic evaluations of donor, fund administrator, and recipient government will and capacities.
How did we get these results?
A meta-evaluation of data found in the academic and professional literature was conducted. The review methodology consisted of a study search which focused on electronic searches of bibliographic databases and hand searches of specific journals and the websites of relevant organisations, using a combined search process of terms related to three key concepts: trust funds, aid effectiveness and aid impact. Users from fund administering agencies and independent organisations were also identified during this period and were able to provide additional documents and invaluable background information. The information contained in the reports included in the final data set was analysed and synthesised using a framework incorporating the Paris Declaration aid effectiveness tenets: ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for results and mutual accountability.
Barakat, S.; Rzeszut, K.; Martin, N. What is the track record of multi donor trust funds in improving aid effectiveness? An assessment of the available evidence. EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (2012) xii + 129 pp. ISBN 978-1-907345-29-6