June 22, 2010, 2:34 p.m.
The type of government people live under has a large impact on their lives. Effective foreign aid requires a good policy environment; democratic governments are best able to create that situation. A new DFID synthesis report, The Politics of Poverty: Elites, Citizens and States, shows how research from four major DFID-funded research programs closing this year is changing academic and policy thinking on governance.
Governance determines whether our states can collect taxes and use them responsibly to deliver public services. For the poorest and most vulnerable, the difference that good, or particularly bad governance, makes to their lives is profound: the inability of government institutions to prevent conflict, provide basic security, or basic services can have life-or-death consequences; lack of opportunity can prevent generations of poor families from lifting themselves out of poverty; and the inability to grow economically and collect taxes can keep countries trapped in a cycle of aid-dependency.
Governance is also vital for effective aid, which often depends on whether and how governments, leaders, and citizens work together in developing countries to fight poverty and promote growth, peace and security.