The ambition of the study is to acquire a better understanding of the origins and consequences of the payment of per diems (non-salary daily allowances) and related allowances in connection with seminars and workshops organized by governments, civil society organizations and donors in sub-Saharan Africa.

The study will explore these issues with a particular focus on their effects on development programmes, national budgets and civil service incentives. There are four main categories of consequences, and to some degree they can overlap: (i) the intended compensatory aspect; (ii) informal system for reward for good performance; (iii) unintended distortion of incentives for those involved (less time in office, too much allocation to seminars); and (iv) fraud and corruption.

Case studies of Ethiopia, Malawi, and Tanzania will provide empirical evidence and insights about the extent to which these consequences can be expected to impede the results of aid-funded programmes as well as service delivery in general.

A further purpose of the study is to identify efficient methods of addressing these challenges, with a particular view to encouraging a joint approach among donor agencies.