Across the world, rapid‐onset natural disasters such as storms and floods return with seemingly greater force every year. Many of the disaster hot‐spots are particularly vulnerable because of already fragile humanitarian and political situations, some having been affected by armed conflict for decades. These phenomena augment the need for long‐term aid, but do they influence the distribution of aid projects?
This paper revisits the classical debate on whether donor interests or recipient needs best predict the distribution of development aid. It disaggregates the analysis down to province level in the Philippines, and includes local hazards when assessing an area's need for aid.
Approach and methods
Making use of geocoded data on aid projects, rapid‐onset natural disasters and armed conflict in Philippine provinces between 1996 and 2012, this paper provides an exhaustive assessment of the within‐country determinants of World Bank development aid projects.
The paper finds that need to some extent influences the distribution of aid projects across Philippine provinces, but that in general, domestic political alliances bias projects in favour of the politically dominant group. Previous exposure to conflict is associated with increased likelihood of new projects, but only in dominant group‐majority provinces. While previous disaster exposure is a weak predictor of aid in all provinces, low Human Development Index (HDI) levels significantly predict aid inflow in excluded group‐majority provinces.
In sum, the paper challenges the idea that (international) donors' priorities override the interests of the recipient/local government in the distribution of aid projects. It also shows that even if the donor's explicit policy is disaster mitigation and relief, there is still a way to go before these considerations are effectively incorporated into development aid efforts.