U4 Helpdesk Answer

Bilateral versus multilateral aid and corruption

U4 Expert Answer 2016:12

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There is empirical evidence suggesting that multilateral aid channels are less politicised, more demand-driven, more selective in targeting poorer countries, better positioned to provide global public goods and the preferred option of recipient countries. Multilateral donors can also draw from a broader technical base than individual bilateral donors.

However, multilateral agencies are less selective than bilateral agencies in terms of the governance of recipient countries and do not align aid modality accordingly. There are also indications that bilateral agencies exhibit lower administrative costs than multilateral agencies, but evidence is still patchy in this regard.

The Helpdesk has found no comparative studies on the respective approach of bilateral and multilateral agencies to fight corruption. The evidence regarding the impact of aid – irrespective of whether it is delivered through bilateral or multilateral channels – on corruption is also mixed and inconclusive.

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