In response to the problem of aid fragmentation, joint country assistance strategies have emerged as a preferred method to coordinate and harmonise aid. This paper determines that, to date, donor teams and recipient governments have come together in at least twelve countries to prepare joint strategies. A number of lessons were learnt and conclusions drawn. Lack of communication between stakeholders was identified, especially regarding strategy processes. Poverty reduction strategy processes should ideally be separated from the joint country strategy process to reduce government workload. An inclusive, thorough and effectively managed process has a greater chance to create the trust, cooperative spirit and follow-through during the implementation phase than one that stresses the production of a quality report without adequate venting of differing views and interests. In countries where government lacks capacity or will, the donor community may wish to identify one agency as the presumptive leader among donors for aid coordination on the ground.
Resource allocation and health financing
What is the relevance of the aid commitments embodied in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) to development actors in South-South co-operation? While research on South-South co-operation is increasing, this article notes that it appears to be largely focused on financial flows or on a limited number of emerging economies, but not on the experiences of practitioners of South-South (SS) co-operation themselves. The article offers two reasons why aid matters for SS partners. First, aid effectiveness is important for partner countries. The effectiveness commitments embodied in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action have failed to promote behavior change, for example, in increasing the use of country systems and in making aid more predictable. One possible solution is the internationally recognised Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration, which tracks the implementation of the Paris commitments. Second, development actors need to go beyond the conventional ‘donor-recipient’ relationship, especially as the development co-operation architecture is becoming more diversified and complex. The Accra Agenda for Action in 2008 opened the door to encourage an inclusive and effective development partnership with civil society, parliamentarians, private sector, providers of South-South co-operation, foundations and global programmes. More actors are taking ownership of the aid effectiveness agenda by shaping it with their own views and experiences. One such example is the Dili Declaration (April 2010), in which a group of fragile states, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, have adapted aid effectiveness principles to their situations of national conflict and fragility.
This occasional paper focuses on China’s and the EU’s aid policies towards Africa by examining their different approaches to aid and the internal logic behind these differences in order to facilitate mutual understanding. It points out that, due to their different development stages, different development models and different aid co-operation experiences in Africa, China and the EU have developed different aid principles, priorities and modalities with different logics. China advocates more ‘co-operation’ than ‘aid’ itself, so the country’s main principles guiding the way in which it manages aid are no political conditions attached to aid provisions, two-way co-operation and a win-win formula. The EU considers aid as a one-way instrument to promote Africa’s good governance and sustainable development, so the key principles that it applies are conditionality, one-way benevolence and co-responsibility. However, the paper highlights that these different logics behind the EU’s and China’s policy approaches are not necessarily contradictory. It proposes that both sides should shift perspective, putting aside the perception of ‘competing models’, to study the points of overlap and thus open a new window for co-operation. Considering the wide perception gap that exists between the two sides, the author recommends that a practical and pragmatic way to advance co-operation may be through focusing initially on second track approaches.
European civil society organisations have expressed dismay at new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data revealing the cuts made to almost all European countries’ aid programmes in 2011. Twelve European countries slashed their aid budgets in 2011 – with the biggest cuts seen in Greece (-39.3%), Spain (-32.7%), and Austria (-14.3%) – and only three European countries increased their aid spending: Italy (33%), Sweden (10.5%) and Germany (5.9%). Publish What You Fund urges the development community to focus on maximising the impact of aid by ensuring external funders provide more accessible, timely, and comparable information about the aid they give. All European funders should implement the commitments they made in the EU Transparency Guarantee by publishing their aid information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), so that other European countries and funders around the world can co-ordinate their aid spending more effectively. It is also crucial that information on European Union (EU) aid is made available through the common standard so that recipient countries can see what is coming to them and plan their own spending in relation to this.
After grappling for years with difficult issues – including coordination of aid activities, recipient country ownership and predictability – it appears that external funders, recipients and civil society alike have realised that very little of the aid effectiveness agenda can be achieved without greater and systematic transparency. And while aid has become more transparent, progress is slow and uneven, according to the new edition of the Aid Transparency Index. The report finds that transparency can be improved, without great difficulty, when political commitment is translated into effective implementation. Aid information must be shared openly in a timely, comprehensive, comparable and accessible way. The report discusses the role of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which offers a common standard for publishing aid information that satisfies all of these elements. So far 33 external funders have signed IATI and thereby committed to publishing to its common standard. These funders account for over 75% of official development finance.
This article argues that, as a result of the current financial crisis, there has been a resurgence of commitment to transparency in overseas development aid (ODA) in all areas and greater focus on the effectiveness of spending. It notes that progress on ODA transparency can occur swiftly and the impacts can be significant. Eighteen donors are reported to have signed up to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), including major multilateral and bilateral donors like the World Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The process of defining the standards is ongoing, calling for common standards of transparency, including publication of what is funded. One of the consequences of lack of transparency on ODA resources is the issue of donor ‘orphans’ or ‘darlings’ - where aid flows disproportionately to a particular region, sector, issue or ministry. Greater levels of information and transparency is needed on ODA benefits to civil society, including non-governmental organisations, parliamentarians and direct beneficiaries. This is a prerequisite for not only holding donors and service providers accountable over commitments they have made, but also for citizens to hold their governments to account over discrepancies between ODA received and spent on behalf of beneficiaries.
Is public expenditure in developing countries inefficient and biased against the poor? How could better aid delivery enhance the likelihood of achieving Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)? What changes are required in current patterns of public expenditure and monitoring and in donor-recipient relations?
This report, from Partners of Health Reformplus, is an assessment of community-based health financing (CBHF) schemes in Uganda. The aim of the assessment is to identify good practices and key obstacles to sustainability in terms of: governance and management, financial management and viability, risk management, marketing and membership incentives, community buy-in, and impact on quality of life of members. Findings reveal that membership of a CBHF scheme improved overall quality of life. However, community participation and management practices need to be strengthened to improve scheme sustainability.
On 12 December 2012, a resolution called “Global health and foreign policy” was voted at the United Nations. This declaration, whose main focus is universal health coverage (UHC), triggered a debate on the online discussion forum of the Performance-Based Financing Community of Practice. This blog post summarises the main points of the discussion.
The International Health Partnership and Related Initiatives (IHP+) was launched in 2007 with a commitment by developing country governments and Development Partners to ‘work effectively together with renewed urgency to build sustainable health systems and improve health outcomes in low and middle-income countries’. This independent review has found that the participating country governments and Development Partners made some progress in improving how effectively they were delivering and using health aid by 2009. These findings are broadly consistent with those from the OECD 2008 Paris Declaration monitoring survey, which is conducted at the national level (i.e. does not capture sectoral performance), and covers a larger number of countries and Development Partners. Ethiopia, Mali and Mozambique have seen the most improvements in Development Partners actions to meet their IHP+ targets. Burundi, Djibouti, DRC, Niger and Nigeria have benefitted less. However, these results might be expected given the length of time since each country joined the IHP+ (Djibouti only signed up to the IHP+ Global Compact in July 2009, Niger and DRC in May 2009) and the relative strength of these countries systems and processes.