News / Asia

International Conference in South Korea to Assess Effectiveness, Impact of Aid

Members from Save the Children and World Vision demonstrate for for effective aid in front of the venue of the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, November 29, 2011.
Members from Save the Children and World Vision demonstrate for for effective aid in front of the venue of the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, November 29, 2011.
William Eagle

More than 2,000 delegates are in Busan, South Korea, this week for the opening of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

The delegates include representatives of NGOs, the private sector and philanthropic organizations. Also on hand are officials such as U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and Britain’s international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell.

Targets

Among those attending the conference is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who spoke with VOA's Victor Beattie about reforming the way help is given.

They’ll be evaluating the state of development aid and negotiating measures to improve the quality and management of that support by partner countries. Along with emerging donors, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the delegates will be trying to achieve a consensus on the delivery of aid.

Over the past ten years, three previous international meetings on development assistance have been convened by the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The results of those meetings in Rome, Paris and Accra were a set of targets aimed at improving the results of aid. Delegates in Busan will talk about whether and how to stick to them.

Among the so-called Paris Declaration principles is a commitment by donors to harmonize their development plans in an effort to cut costs and avoid duplication.

Donor missions

Studies show the number of aid projects have grown over the years.

In 1960, there were usually only two countries giving aid, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. One study today shows that finance ministers in some recipient countries spend up to a third of their time receiving over 250 donor missions in one year, rather than focusing on long-term development plans. With the joint management by donors of field missions, developing countries could deal with a reduced number of larger projects, rather than several smaller ones. 

The principles also include a commitment to encourage and support development plans drawn up by developing countries. That includes aligning aid with national priorities and including aid flows in national budgets.

Accountability

Recipient nations agree to improve their financial management and procurement systems. Both donors and their national partners also agree to adopt a system to measure results and to hold each other accountable. 

Lawrence Macdonald, the vice president for communications and policy outreach at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., explains the importance of host country ownership of projects.

He says in emergency situations, it’s normal for donor countries to depend on international NGOs to deliver assistance, but that in the long run, it harms efforts to create self-sustaining projects.

Relience on aid

Over time that kind of reliance on outsiders can draw talent out of government. People would rather work for the Red Cross, Oxfam, or the UN where they can earn a higher salary than for their own government. You get on kind of a vicious cycle, where the government lacks capacity and so the NGOS and international organizations are doing development and the government never builds up capacity. So the notion that the country should develop its own program and identify its own priorities and donors should support those priorities is designed to counteract the situation of donor dependence.

Supporters of the Paris Declaration also support the concept of removing conditions on aid imposed by donor countries.

Yearly cost

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, second from right, during the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, November 29, 2011.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, second from right, during the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, November 29, 2011.

Of the approximately $129 billion of aid given yearly to the developing world, about a third is estimated to be tied to the purchase of goods and services in donor countries. A network of NGOs from 19 European countries, the European Network on Debt and Development, estimates that tied aid reduces the purchasing power of aid by up to 40%. 

"If the US gives a certain amount of money it has to be used to purchase US products or to pay U.S. consultants. That tied aid is ineffective. It raises the cost," said MacDonald. "If I could get my bulldozers on the international market I might be able to get them cheaper than if I get them from [the U.S. company]' Caterpillar. It also reduces the ability of the recipient country to use aid to develop its own capacity to solve problems. So they agreed it would be good to untie aid."

Several OECD members continue to support tying aid to development, including the European Union, Japan and the United States. Supporters say ensuring the involvement of businesses from donor countries in development projects makes it easier to earn public support for foreign aid.

Transparency

MacDonald says another topic that’s likely to come up at the meeting is the principle of transparency. He says some donors and international agencies are still slow to publish figures on how their aid is spent. He says Nancy Birdsall, the head of his own group, the Center for Global Development, favors the release of donor aid disbursements on a quarterly basis.

"If the donors are publishing this data in a consistent manner in an electronic format that is easily combined with other disclosures, then relatively small civil society groups can take the data and put it together in an easily accessed and read form" he added. "Then, the recipient government will be able to know how much money is spent where and for what.

"Civil society groups and NGOs [and contractors and groups that provide development services] can monitor that, so can tax payers in the rich world and beneficiaries in the developing world. You get a “many eyes” kind of phenomenon," continued MacDonald. "There’s the saying in the software industry ‘with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow’ and the idea with the transparency in foreign assistance is that with enough eyes looking at this, it will be possible to identify in efficiencies, corruption and to improve the effectiveness of the assistance."

Tracking aid

Delegates to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness will be considering the adoption of a system to improve the tracking of aid flows and monitor impact, called the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Some countries, including France and Japan, prefer the current system, which activists say is insufficient. Some say the failure to adopt the new system will be a blow to donor support for greater transparency. 

Participants at the Busan talks will consider how far donors and recipients have come in adopting the Paris principles for improving aid flows.

Recent studies show donors have more work to do.

Commitments

Gregory Adams, the head of the Oxfam delegation to the talks, says donors have failed to meet the commitments they made at previous global aid forums on improving the quality of their aid. Research by the OECD and by the Center for Global Development show industrialized countries have succeeded in meeting only one of several criteria used to measure their performance.

"On the 13 indicators they were measured against, they’ve made progress on one, which is “harmonization” - talking to each other better. In contrast, partner countries have done what they said they were going to do," said Adams. "So there is a very real disconnect on the agreement made six years ago [in Paris]. The nature of the deal was the idea we know aid works better when donors trust poor countries to manage it themselves. But donors find it hard to do that.

So, there was a set of commitments made. Partner countries agreed they were going to tackle corruption and manage their finances better, and donor countries agreed to trust recipient countries more: they would provide aid more predictably, make sure more money flowed through a partner country’s own institutions and, the results are in and partner countries did what they said they would do, and the donors have not.

Partners

Adams says donor countries are now pushing to scrap the system that keeps track of their progress on aid effectiveness.

"The big debate now is should there even be a global monitoring scheme, a set of indicators that track how well donor countries are doing," he said. "That decision will not be actually be made [what indicators are] at Busan. We’ve managed to push back a bit on the effort to abolish the indicators or cut them down to meaninglessness. But we want to be sure we get the right set of indicators that measures what is meaningful in terms of donors commitment especially on five key principles of Paris Declaration."

Adams hopes the delegates to the Busan forum, including China and other members from the global south as well as philanthropic organizations, will join OECD members in committing themselves to the Paris Declaration’s principles of effective aid.

Contributions

Development experts estimate Beijing’s contribution to be at least $25 billion per year, while private groups contribute over $50 billion. The World Bank estimates that by 2014, the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] will provide 60 percent of global economic growth

Support for shared principles on aid and for more effective partnerships could appear in the outcome document expected at the end of the meetings.

Adams also hopes it will also include continued support for a global monitoring framework that will allow poor countries to demand accountability from rich ones.

Lawrence MacDonald of the Center for Global Development says to be successful, the summit, and final document, must rise above rhetoric to emphasize time-bound commitments to action.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid