Development economist Erwin Bulte is to receive 1.6 million euros from the ministry of Foreign Affairs to measure the impact of development projects. He will focus on projects run by Dutch aid organizations Novib and Cordaid in Liberia and the Congo.
Bulte will conduct the research in collaboration with the Disaster Studies chair group and the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), both part of Wageningen UR. Over the next four years, the research team will collect data in villages in Liberia and the Congo where the organizations are running a project. They will find out how many children go to school, how much poverty there is in the village and what the villagers' income level is. They will do the same in a number of 'control villages' which do not come under the development project. By doing this, Bulte hopes to be able to measure the impact of the projects.
The Netherlands spends almost five billion euros a year on development aid. One quarter of the funding is channelled through aid organizations such as Novib, ICCO, Hivos and Cordaid. These NGOs were once again allocated development projects at the beginning of this year. Some projects are new, while others are follow-ups of earlier projects. For the latter, Bulte wants to collect data quickly so as to establish what results have been booked so far.
Bulte will concentrate largely on analysing economic data and the impact of development aid in terms of the Millennium Development Goals. Thea Hilhorst, professor of Disaster Studies, will evaluate the capacity building achieved by projects in the Congo and will look at local governance and policy. The CDI will investigate the progress of capacity building efforts in Liberia. The grant will make it possible to appoint a PhD researcher to do research in the Congo. A lot of money will also go to students at universities in Liberia and the Congo, who will collect data in hundreds of villages.
The research assignment follows on from the Vici subsidy which Bulte received at the end of 2010. At that time, he received 1.5 million euros from the NWO to measure the impact of agricultural projects in several African countries.