The UN Millennium Development Goals aim to cut poverty in half by 2015. Donor countries have agreed to increase development assistance in support of that effort. As much as120 billion dollars in aid is now given out annually in the form of assistance to developing countries. The role of recipient countries is to ensure that funds are used efficiently to help the poor. A new process known as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness is now guiding many new development projects.“The Paris Declaration essentially says it aims to improve the quality of aid in order to achieve desired outcomes” said Eric Chinje, a Communications Manager at the World Bank’s Office in Washington. He told Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Joana Mantey that under the new framework recipient countries take ownership of development projects by making their own decisions regarding the use of donor funds:
“This means governments have to determine what development
policies they want to adopt and then everything else is built around
those policies and programs.” Chinje said.
Donors support these initiatives by adhering to the objectives of recipient countries. They also integrate aid into local structures like the country’s planning and budgeting systems, This is a process known as donor alignment. “Alignment helps to streamline aid disbursement. It improves on the quality of delivery,” Chinje said. Donors and beneficiary countries also come together to ensure maximum benefits and mutual accountability.
This cooperation distinguishes the Paris Declaration from other previous approaches to aid disbursement. In the past, recipient countries were often expected to use development funds to buy goods and services from donor countries, even at higher prices. The Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) estimates that this form of aid raises the costs of goods and services by between 15 and 30%, and for food aid by 35%.
Donor countries also decided on the kind of projects to invest in. After the completion of such projects, however, donors withdrew without training local people to continue the projects, which then failed. The Paris Declaration changed all that. Chinje said there have been significant improvements in aid disbursement since the declaration came into being. He said, “Although there is much work to be done, there is a determined effort to align effort by recipient countries.”