Launched in 1999, the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) is based on four
key principles: a long-term, holistic development framework; results orientation;
country ownership; and country-led partnership. By emphasizing the interdependence
of the social, structural, human, governance, environmental, economic, and financial
elements of development the CDF approach allows countries to reduce poverty and
A recent publication by the World Bank’s Operations Evaluation Unit (OED)
reported on success of the CDF to date and presented findings and recommendations
for replication. The study concentrated on six countries and involved 30 different
organizations engaged in development assistance including donors, recipient
countries, NGOs, and multilateral organizations.
Greg Ingram, Director-General of the Operations Evaluation Unit, summarized
the main findings and messages of the study on three key elements: results,
country ownership, and country-led partnership. Afterward, John Eriksson, the
study’s main author described specific evidence from the country level.
Ibrahim Elbadawi, Lead Economist, World Bank, assessed to potential development
impact of the CDF.
The evaluation found that the CDF has become an important influence on the
global development agenda. Both donors and recipient countries increasingly
support the CDF’s four core principles. There is evidence that countries have
begun to implement the principles. However, the positive changes are fragile.
Although most countries have long-term, holistic development frameworks, few
translate them through rigorous budget processes into high-impact projects.
Diverse and complex donor procedures and practices continue to impede the goal
of country-led partnership. Ingram noted that while there is a growing focus
on results, complex reporting systems that conform to donor requirements are
often of little value to local officials that mange programs. Moreover, results
reporting adopted at the country level is often done to satisfy donors rather
than local purposes. Ingram stated that must be more coordination between donors
and local governments to request and use the same sets of data and information
to monitor programs. Countries should also recognize the value of citizen’s
In terms of country ownership, both donors an countries are consulting more
with citizens, businesses, and NGOs in formulating development strategies. However,
more must be done to include local officials, members of legislatures, and the
very poor. The study also reaffirmed that for development to be effective, recipient
countries must be allowed to take the lead. Ingram stated that country leadership
provides the best potential for lowering the cost of delivering aid and ensuring
that projects fit with country priorities. He then cited Uganda a good example
of how aid can be managed effectively as all donor funded projects must be approved
by a committee that makes sure that initiatives are consistent with budget priorities.
Country-led partnership may also be enhanced through direct budget support rather
than specific project support, but such a move would require management reforms
as well as enforcement of procurement rules.
Implementing CDF principles and realizing country-led development therefore
requires changes in entrenched behaviors and institutional practices. Eriksson
noted that many civil society and business groups feel excluded from the policy
making process. Additionally, onerous procedures, disincentives, and lack of
capacity cripple the potential for country-led partnership. He then cited several
case studies where donor reporting requirements hindered projects including
Bolivia where three donors were involved in the joint financing of a health
building. In this case, construction was delayed for over two years as the donors
worked out issues of procurement and contracting rules.