OP-ED: Better Aid Means Better Development

Posted on 01 November 2011 by admin

By Brian Atwood and Jeremy Hobbs*

Cargando con el desarrollo Crédito: Claudius/IPS

Credit: Claudius/IPS

PARIS, Nov 1 (IPS) – Oxfam and major aid donors of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (the DAC) are often on opposite sides of the fence. Today though, we are on the same side —making sure that effective aid lifts people out of poverty.

The DAC represents government donors and promotes ‘better aid’. Oxfam’s job is to blow the whistle when the DAC fails.

Our joint appeal for more sanity in global development co-operation is a reflection of our shared fear that the world will miss an important opportunity to fix what is wrong. We are both looking to the November G20 meeting of major industrialised and emerging nations in Cannes and a few weeks later the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea to ensure that doesn’t happen.

With Western economies and political systems under tremendous strain, will it be more convenient to sweep the needs of the developing world under the carpet?

Our guess is that the G20 leaders in Cannes will understand that effective development can calm the volatile food and energy markets, alleviate climate and security threats, and give hope to the billions of people who are jobless or suffering from poverty, hunger, disease, and other injustices.

We trust that G20 leaders will give a mandate to the High Level Forum to create new and more effective global partnerships with developing countries, donors from developed and emerging economies, the private sector, and civil society organisations.

The current system of development co-operation is improving, but the process is too slow. Governments are still failing to follow through on the promises of more effective aid they made at previous OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) meetings. Some estimates indicate that about 30 percent of aid from all sources may be being wasted due to fragmentation and too little coordination.

Meanwhile, latest trends on reaching the Millennium Development Goals – eight time-bound targets tackling poverty and its various dimensions agreed by United Nations member states in 2000 – by 2015 show the world falling far behind.

Busan is an opportunity to mend the tattered global effort. The evidence compiled by the OECD shows clearly that when donors support developing country governments and people to lead their own national development agenda, the results are likely to have greater and more lasting impact on reducing poverty.

It also shows that most donors’ efforts are uncoordinated and too unpredictable. Oxfam has repeatedly called these failures to public attention, often using DAC’s analysis and data.

The agenda at previous High Level fora on development has been donor driven, mostly by aid ministry experts. Thus the Paris and Accra principles were adopted (in 2005 and 2008, respectively), but without enthusiastic support from high-level political leaders of donor governments, nor by aid recipients and emerging economies. However, a robust monitoring process has now convinced the sceptics that making aid more effective requires new political energy and commitment.

The Busan forum is underpinned by two positive influences: the G20’s effort to elevate development as an issue, and developing nations’ demand for more effective aid and ownership of their own destinies.

Civil society is demanding to play its vital role in setting development priorities and holding governments accountable, as are parliamentarians and the private sector. Perhaps most importantly, the emerging economies who practice South-South Co-operation, and know poverty first hand, are increasingly interested, motivated by the G20 process and the participation of developing countries.

The G20 will soon consider recommendations on the nine areas (or pillars) of the Seoul Development Consensus. France is pushing leaders to address food price volatility and invest in infrastructure in the developing world. But good ideas may wither without effective implementation.

This is why it is all the more crucial that Busan participants continue the global monitoring and accountability effort that the OECD has been conducting since 2005. Busan should also be a push to rebuild the larger development community in a more rational, less fragmented, form.

As for Oxfam and the DAC, we will continue to apply pressure. Sometimes together, sometimes separately, but always with a common cause.

*Brian Atwood is the Chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee and Jeremy Hobbs is the Executive Director of Oxfam International.

(FIN/2011)

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