DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION: Yet Another Chance to Make Aid Effective

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By Jaya Ramachandran

PARIS - Global development cooperation, which surged in the early 1960s amidst post-war optimism and enthusiasm, and has since continued to evolve, is recognised as a key factor in advancing international development.

"But lack of co-ordination, overly ambitious targets, unrealistic time- and budget constraints and political self-interest have too often prevented aid from being as effective as desired," says a background paper by the Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC) of an international grouping branded as "rich man's club".

A fresh attempt to make aid effective will be made at Busan, South Korea, from November 29 to December 1, 2011. This will be the fourth High-Level Forum since 2002 when the principles for aid effectiveness were outlined in the Rome Declaration.

The Fourth High-Level Forum in Busan could be considered successful if it achieves "a broad partnership among nations at all levels of income and development, as well as private actors and nongovernmental organizations, based on a clear division of labor and transparent communication," says J. Brian Atwood, who chairs the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the 34-nation Organisation For Economic Cooperation And Development (OECD), most of which are post-war industrial nations.

Atwood's yardstick includes: - A set of principles, founded on solid evidence, to guide the new consensus on development cooperation, together with a commitment to eliminate policies that present obstacles to achieving development results. - A revitalized global effort to achieve the MDGs and focus on the need for global public goods. - A recognition that the world’s poorest and most fragile states need security and capacity, and that working with them means being willing to adapt modalities and to take risks. - An acceptance that people, no matter how impoverished, must be empowered to participate directly in the development process. - An acceptance that all participants in development efforts must produce measurable results and that these results must be duly reported to the citizens of all nations.

"This is an ambitious set of goals, but this is what is required if Busan is to deliver a more effective aid system – one that is capable of tackling today's complex development challenges and that successfully combines the efforts of an increasingly diverse and dynamic set of development actors," writes Atwood in a paper titled 'The Road to Busan: Pursuing a New Consensus on Development Cooperation'.
Beyond the goals outlined above, says Atwood, there are a number of other issues which participants at Busan must consider.

These include questions of how best to engage the Group of Twenty (G-20), how to integrate private and nongovernmental participation into an international dialogue on aid effectiveness in a way that is logistically feasible, how to strengthen the link between political commitment and implementation, how best to address the particular needs of fragile and conflict affected environments, and how to achieve better coherence and effective collective action in the current aid and development arena.

"Busan presents the ideal forum for debating these hard questions and for creating a revitalized development agenda that is inclusive, adaptive and principled," concludes the DAC Chair who served as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1993 to 1999 during the administration of President Bill Clinton.

How far some 2000 delegates will succeed in achieving that objective remains to be seen. However a look back shows the admirable objectives agreed in the previous three for a.

The Rome Declaration stated that: development assistance be delivered based on the priorities and timing of the countries receiving it; donor efforts concentrate on delegating cooperation and increasing the flexibility of staff on country programmes and projects; and that good practice be encouraged and monitored, backed by analytic work to help strengthen the leadership that recipient countries can take in determining their development path.


The Second High Level Forum in Paris in 2005 marked the first time that donors and recipients both agreed to commitments and to hold each other accountable for achieving these. The commitments were laid out in the Paris Declaration.

Beyond its principles on effective aid, the Paris Declaration lays out a practical, action-oriented roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. It puts in place a series of specific implementation measures and establishes a monitoring system to assess progress and ensure that donors and recipients hold each other accountable for their commitments.

The Paris Declaration outlines the following five fundamental principles for making aid more effective:
- Ownership: Developing countries set their own strategies for poverty reduction, improve their institutions and tackle corruption.
- Alignment: Donor countries align behind these objectives and use local systems.
- Harmonisation: Donor countries coordinate, simplify procedures and share information to avoid duplication.
- Results: Developing countries and donors shift focus to development results and results get measured.
- Mutual accountability: Donors and partners are accountable for development results.

At the Third High Level Forum at Accra, Ghana, in 2008, civil society representatives also participated, broadening the stakeholders in the aid effectiveness agenda. The forum emphasised the need to deepen implementation towards the goals set in 2005 was identified, along with a set of priority areas for improvement.

Designed to strengthen and deepen implementation of the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) takes stock of progress and sets the agenda for accelerated advancement towards the Paris targets.

It proposes improvement in the areas of ownership, partnerships and delivering results. Capacity development also lies at the heart of the AAA.

OECD-DAC is convinced that the principles put forward in the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action have gained support across the development community, changing aid practice for the better.
"It is now the norm for aid recipients to forge their own national development strategies with their parliaments and electorates (ownership); that donors support these plans (alignment); and streamline their efforts in-country (harmonisation); for development policies to be directed to achieving clear, monitorable goals (managing for development results); and for donors and recipients to be jointly responsible for achieving these goals (mutual accountability)," OECD-DAC claim.

"These principles have also served as the foundation for other commitments, tailored to specific contexts: the Bogotá Statement (concentrating on effective aid principles in South-South co-operation), Istanbul Principles (on the role of civil society) and the Dili Declaration (on effective aid in fragile and conflict-affected states)," OECD-DAC adds.

OECD-DAC expects the Fourth High Level Forum in Busan to turn towards whether this progress in the aid effectiveness agenda is enough to overcome even greater global challenges. In the face of the recent financial, security, food, health, climate and energy crises, and to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the development community must indeed do more.,3746,en_2649_3236398_35401554_1_1_1_1,00.html,3746,en_2649_3236398_46310975_1_1_1_1,00.html,3746,en_2649_3236398_43385523_1_1_1_1,00.html,3746,en_21571361_43407692_45010874_1_1_1_1,00.html,3746,en_2649_3236398_46057868_1_1_1_1,00.html








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