If we are charting our fates as citizens of a crowded, fragile planet, then any honest assessment must conclude that progress has been made, whether in terms of child survival or literacy or access to basic sanitation. Still, profound social disparities exist; so too does extreme poverty. And the prospects of those living on less than two dollars a day remain grim.


With the stakes as high as they are, the need to challenge the assumptions we make about aid is paramount. Myths and mystifications about aid persist. Whether we speak of feedback loops or best practices -- or, perhaps, simply better practices -- we have a long way to go.

-Paul Farmer


After ten years serving as a Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Harvard University professor Dr. Paul Farmer created a think tank called the Aid Delivery Support Initiative (ADSI) to build upon the work of his UN office. The ADSI is unique in that it merges policy analysis with three decades of implementation experience of Dr. Farmer and his colleagues across the globe. 


The overarching goal of the ADSI is to influence global policy makers so that more of the over $40 billion in annual aid to the poorest countries is invested in the creation of durable and effective public systems of service delivery that reach all people. The ADSI team advocates for a “science of aid delivery” developed by Dr. Farmer and his colleagues that prioritizes a preferential option for the poor in healthcare, education and other social services and strengthening the public sector as the most effective way to reduce poverty and disease. The ADSI team collaborates closely with colleagues at the United Nations, Partners In Health (PIH) and Harvard Medical School in a joint effort to further Dr. Farmer’s objective of creating an evidence-based approach to aid delivery to reduce global poverty and disease. Dr. Farmer has proven that concepts development officials have historically seen as aspirational or impossible, such as providing modern medical treatment as the standard of care for all people, including those with the least resources, are not only feasible but are the best use of foreign aid investments.


One of the key initiatives of the ADSI is the tracking of bilateral and multilateral aid post crises when systems are most vulnerable and donor governments make new pledges. We have tracked aid pledged for recovery in the following circumstances: 


Our decade of evidence based tracking is unique in that it holds bilateral and multilateral donors to account in a way that no other platform does. (The other main tracking platforms are funded or run by the government or multilateral donors themselves.)


The ADSI team serves in an advisory capacity to various constituencies seeking support in their efforts to strengthen the public sector in settings of fragility. The ADSI has offered its support to various entities ranging from United Nations partners to government officials in Haiti and West Africa, as well as to Harvard Medical School, the Clinton Foundation, Columbia University, Yale University, among others. The ADSI is also regularly in touch with trusted journalists at the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald and other media outlets as they write about aid effectiveness and lessons learned from post-crisis situations.