While the health sector has attracted significant foreign aid, evidence on the effectiveness of this support is mixed, a paper titled “Sub-national Perspectives on Aid Effectiveness: Impact of Aid on Health Outcomes in Uganda” notes.

The paper was presented at the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), University of Oxford – UK by Tonny Odokonyero, a Research Analyst at Economic Policy Research Centre during the conference on “Economic Development in Africa” held from 19th to 21st March 2017.

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“Aid may fail to be effective due to donor dollars never reaching intended beneficiaries, corruption siphoning off aid flows for personal gain, aid crowding out government expenditure to improve development outcomes, or projects simply being poorly designed or implemented.” reads the paper in part.

“Uganda has achieved progress on health related MDGs; however, health indicators are still poor in comparison to desirable global health standards,” the paper says, adding that indicators on maternal and child health, malaria, HIV/AIDs, and nutrition remain poor.


The paper used the Difference – in – Differences econometric approach with data from Uganda’s national panel survey and geo-coded data from AidData to investigate the contribution of aid on key health outcomes in Uganda.

It counsels that channeling aid to the lowest level possible offers an additional advantage of driving the Universal Health Coverage strategy of promoting primary healthcare through the “close to client” health system, which also reduces disease burden and severity.

“Health aid is associated with reducing disease burden by 28 percent when aid channeled to a specific location is buffered within the 3 km radius, 25 percent for the 5 km radius, and 21 percent for the 7 km radius,” the paper reports.


Accordingly, longer distances of 5 and 7 km radii make the effect of health aid in reducing disease burden weaker.

The paper observes that effectiveness of foreign aid requires appropriate targeting, based on the needs of developing countries as well as health conditions. More importantly, the paper underscores the significance of beneficiary’s proximity to health aid projects for larger improvement in health outcomes.

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