News / Africa

International Community Pledges to Increase Aid Efficiency

China and many emerging countries agree to work with industrialized counties to create new global partnership for development

Multimedia

Audio
William Eagle

A declaration by the delegates said the partnership would be new and inclusive and would represent both recipient countries and members of the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  It said, “The new partnership will offer an open platform, embracing diversity and providing a forum for the exchange of knowledge and regular reviews of the process.”

Included in that diversity are emerging countries that are already establishing significant aid and investment programs, like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. But according to the final document, their adherence to the principles followed by members of the OECD are not binding. The goals include the coordination of donor aid programs to avoid duplication and promote greater efficiency and transparency in the use of aid.Signatories also agree to support efforts by recipient countries to design their own poverty programs and to untie aid from conditions set by donor countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers the keynote address during the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers the keynote address during the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea.

China and other countries have endorsed the document.

But OECD officials called it a starting point, and Britain’s international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said it represents an acceptance of common goals and shared commitments, “ships,” he said, “moving in the same direction, albeit with different speeds.”

Different Traditions

Brian Atwood is the former head of USAID and the chair of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD. He said the agreement takes into account the differences in approach to aid of the southern countries, especially with regard to overseas development assistance (ODA).

"It’s made clear in the document," he said, "that the tradition of south-south cooperation is a different one. We acknowledge that, but we have said as well what’s really important are results at the country level, and we agree to coordinate our activities at that level. The enforcement mechanism for that are the countries themselves. They want to own their programs, to develop their own strategies and have donors and providers to work together to get results. So we will continue to have differences in approach."

The south-south providers do not want the same kinds of regimes that we use [to measure and deliver aid] in the north and the [Development Assistance Committee of the OECD] as in counting the volume of ODA, and agreeing not to tie our aid [to conditions set by donors]. But we did not expect they would agree to that. What we had to struggle to get was  to get an agreement for a global partnership. That’s the achievement of Busan.

Third-country cooperation

Atwood says OECD countries and members of the global south are already working together in what he calls “triangular” efforts in third, or host, countries.

"There’s been a very big increase in triangular programs," he said, "where a host country will work [for example with] the Chinese and Americans, or the Brazilians, who work with the Mexicans and Americans. We’ve seen a big increase in those kinds of programs. We’d like to evaluate them and look at best practices. That’s positive. Just the fact that you’re working on the ground with another country coming from another tradition is a learning exercise and creates convergence."

Fragile states

Delegates to the meeting also agreed to focus aid on strengthening fragile states with weak governmental institutions, like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many are concerned that they will not have the capacity to reach the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, which aim for drastic reductions in poverty and maternal and child mortality. Atwood described the type of assistance that a coalition of fragile states, called the G7+, wanted from the forum.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. He expressed optimism about Africa's future, saying eight economies from sub-Saharan Africa have more than doubled in size.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. He expressed optimism about Africa's future, saying eight economies from sub-Saharan Africa have more than doubled in size.

"They want a new set of goals for their particular needs," he said. "They want to prioritize legitimate politics, which means helping them with elections and setting up parliaments; people’s security, which relates to people feeling secure in their own homes, without having the military around; and a justice system that works…all of these are goals for them. They want country-led and owned programs and they want the capacity to carry out the programs."

Improved transparency

The conference also highlighted OECD’s progress on transparency, country ownership of projects and support for women.

The United States agreed to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative, an effort to regularly disclose and detail aid commitments and disbursements. The initiative also supports improved information systems for managing aid.

Secretary of State Clinton said one recent example of US commitment to transparency is the recent launch of a web site to follow U.S. aid investments, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. It’s located at www.foreignassistance.gov. She also announced a new joint effort by several governments and international organizations called EDGE, or Evidence and Data for Gender Equality. The initiative will provide data on women’s entrepreneurship and assets. U.S. officials say the information should help to reform credit policies, ownership and inheritance laws that discriminate against women.

Recipient countries have also shown progress in opening their budgets to scrutiny and in designing their own aid programs. This year Kenya unveiled its “open data initiative,” which allows the public to access budget and spending information.

"I was impressed with Cape Verde’s system using modern technology to keep track of the (aid) flows coming into their country, using it to measures results," said Atwood. "The Rwandans have done a wonderful job with a strong development unit where they do strategic planning and coordination and they are in the lead – telling donors what they want done. Ghana has a strong system as well."

Tied Aid

Atwood said the conference also highlighted progress among the OECD members on separating aid from conditions set by donors.

He said today about 70 percent of aid has been untied from those demands. He said many recognize that more must be done to cut costs and improve efficiency by using local sources for material and services and by having open-bidding for projects by companies and non-profits.

But Atwood says untying aid completely from donors’ domestic needs may be difficult. That’s because linking foreign aid to, for example U.S.-made goods and services helps ensure support for foreign aid among the tax-paying public. Still, he expects aid will be completely untied over the next few years.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs