Action Aid final position on the Third High Level Forum on Aid effectiveness.

ActionAid said today that key demands by developing countries and campaigners for immediate improvements to make aid work better for the poor were blocked by the US, Japan and the World Bank.

Hopes had been high that key reforms would be agreed to make aid more efficient, transparent and effective, but these were scuppered by back room deals dominated by donor countries. Some progress was made in some areas, such as the use of country systems, but overall there were few concrete commitments. The talks were convened by the OECD; a grouping of the world’s wealthiest nations.

ActionAid spokesperson, Wole Olaleye said “It is disgraceful that powerful countries have denied the poor a chance to benefit from better aid. Future aid negotiations cannot be run by a few rich countries. They must be moved to a forum where northern and southern countries can negotiate on equal terms, such as the United Nations, with meaningful participation by civil society.”

The European Union has supported developing country positions and hinted that it might consider making additional commitments to improve aid.

“Europe provides two thirds of the world’s aid,” Olaleye added. “It’s time for them to set the bar much higher and agree with developing countries the concrete steps needed to make European aid more accountable and effective.”

For further information.

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DONORS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AGREE TO REFORM AID, High Level Forum assesses the effectiveness of development assistance.

Developed and developing countries today agreed to take bold steps to reform the way aid is given and spent. After three days of intense negotiations, they endorsed the Accra Agenda for Action. Developing countries are committing to take control of their own futures, donors to co-ordinating better amongst themselves, and both parties to the Agenda are pledging to account to each other and their citizens.

Key points agreed in the Accra Agenda for Action include:
Predictability – donors will provide 3-5 year forward information on their planned aid
to partner countries.
Country systems – partner country systems will be used to deliver aid as the first
option, rather than donor systems.
Conditionality – donors will switch from reliance on prescriptive conditions about
how and when aid money is spent to conditions based on the developing country’s
own development objectives.
Untying – donors will relax restrictions that prevent developing countries from
buying the goods and services they need from whomever and wherever they can get
the best quality at the lowest price.

For further information.

Delegates accuse donors of pocketing Aid, by Arthur Okwemba

In the Aid Effectiveness talks in Accra, Ghana, officials from various African governments are accusing donors of making it difficult for recipients to produce results. The delegates also lament that donor countries and African governments are not being accountable on how aid is utilised.
Several speakers at the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness said between 60 per cent and 75 per cent of the donor money does not get to the recipient countries but remains in the donating country. “You cannot demand or expect us to produce results or alleviate poverty when only 25 per cent of the donated money gets to us,” says Mr Patrice Bemba, an official from the Ministry of Finance in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Mr Bemba, a lot of the donor funds end up as fees and salaries for expats from the donating country. A huge chunk, he adds, is also lost as overhead costs.
“Much of the aid remains in the hands of consultants and companies in Europe, America and Asia, or is just tied aid,” explains Robert Fox of Oxfam Canada and head of Oxfam International delegation to the Accra talks.
“Donors cannot run away from this fact when two thirds of the money goes back to their countries as technical assistance and transaction overhead costs and less than 20 per cent gets to developing countries as aid,” says a representatives from the Catholic and Protestant denominations participating at the forum.
A Kenya government official, who sought anonymity, says that sometimes the donors offer highly- paid expatriates from their countries even in areas that do not need such assistance or where the country has enough local experts.
“In this scenario, the money does not even boost economic growth of African countries as local industries and experts are shunned. Instead, it continues to make companies and individuals in developed countries wealthier.”
“There is no mechanism to ensure that the donors are accountable for the funds they advance to us,” he says.
The delegates demand that donors should live up to the accountable and transparent ideals they preach to African governments and other stakeholders.
Likewise, the delegates have called on donors to fund gender and human rights as part of development and not leave them to the whims of politicians in developing countries.
“Countries and donors should celebrate good results if those results promote gender and human rights,” says Turok.
“Any monitoring and evaluation on aid effectiveness can only be complete if it captures the levels of gender equality and empowerment and human rights issues achieved in the use of donor money,” says Fox. He adds that the only way to make African governments and donors accountable in the way donor money is used, is to strengthen the media, civil society and the citizens by providing them with comprehensive information on donor money.
Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure citizens in Africa and the North are empowered to demand answers from their governments on aid disbursement and use,” says Fox.

For further information.

Is the UK meeting its international commitments on aid effectiveness? by Nick Highton

The UK’s progress report on aid effectiveness, which received its official launch by DFID Ministers 1 September, must count as one of the more readable offerings sitting on the table this week in Accra, as ministers from over 100 counties gather to take stock of progress against the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness. For this accomplishment alone it deserves to be welcomed.
The progress report carries two hugely important messages – in appropriately visible script on the very first and last pages of this glossy 21 page document. Firstly, Accra is not just about the technicalities of an international agreement of interest only to aid practitioners. It is about the effectiveness of the international system as a whole. Secondly, the Paris Declaration is not just a technical agreement – it is a political agenda for action. As such, the report is not primarily aimed at aid agencies and their staff; rather, it is intended to be read – and judged by – politicians, civil society, custodians of tax payers’ money in rich countries (finance ministries and audit institutions) and private foundations.
A second reason to welcome this report is for the transparency (and precedence) it provides. While the Paris Declaration Monitoring Survey includes an appendix that lists aggregated scores for each participating donor, studies commissioned to measure progress are focused on recipient countries rather than donors. While there are clear reasons why country-level data is essential (the purpose of Paris is after all to increase development results on the ground), data on individual donor performance is also essential to make aid agencies more accountable.
Although some of the examples given in the report may seem selective (though they certainly make for a fascinating read) the document is reasonably candid about the UK`s successes and shortcomings in meeting the Paris declaration. We see that UK progress in meeting the commitments is generally good, but that there are important areas of weakness – especially important for an agency (DFID) claiming to act as `model` of aid effectiveness for the world to follow. For example, DFID’s use of country financial and procurement systems is actually falling – without clear explanation. And, while the UK is pushing for stronger commitments on predictability (disbursing aid on schedule) at Accra, DFID apparently faces `bottlenecks` in meeting even its existing – and relatively unstretching – commitments on predictability.

For further information.

Negotiations on Aid Reform Stall as Southern Governments Are Blocked By Donors, by CONCORD

Over 1000 representatives from governments of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and developing countries have gathered in Accra, Ghana, to report on their progress and agree a plan of action, but on day three of the conference, talks have stalled as the US, Japan and the World Bank block agreements on timetables for action.

On the table are key demands from Southern governments to reduce harmful economic policy conditionality which damages democratic processes in-country, untie aid so developing countries are not forced to purchase goods and services from donor countries, and increase predictability of aid such as health and education.
The European Union, the world’s largest aid provider has played a leading role on improving aid quality, but Civil Society Organisations are concerned that without concrete targets on moving forward, aid commitments hang in the balance. Ministers begin arriving today to agree a final agenda for action at tomorrow’s ministerial meetings, and it will be crucial that they recognise the poor progress reflected in donors’ own assessments of the commitments and agree concrete actions for ensuring aid has a impact of aid on the lives of the poor.

“More than half-way to the Millenium Development Goals what we see is rich country governments backing off from commitments on aid quantity and quality. The agenda on aid effectiveness being discussed here in Accra is crucial for reducing poverty in poor countries, and it is unforgiveable that governments from the OECD are allowing their concrete actions on promises to fall off the agenda.” says Justin Kilcullen, President of CONCORD.

For further information.

Action Aid position for Accra.Beyond Aid dependence.The challenge at the Accra High Level Forum

The challenge for Accra is to find ways in which aid regimes can be democratized and made more accountable to the poor and excluded citizens of the global south. Accra must agree a credible, timebound and monitorable process to ensure that aid itself can contribute to the end of aid dependency.

Proposals:
1. Moving the aid reform process to a more equal, transparent and representative forum
2. Women’s Rights should be at the centre of all aid discussions and practices
3. Making aid truly accountable and transparent
4. Make Technical Assistance 100% demand-driven and aligned to country strategies
5. Commit to ending all donor-imposed policy conditions and the use of aid to support foreign and economic policy priorities and interests, including untying all aid
6. Creating a coherent global anti-poverty effort

Total aid to poor farmers in developing countries in 2006 amounted to only US $3.9bn, while subsidies to rich commercial farmers in the OECD in the same year amounted to US $349bn.
Official Development Assistance reached US $104bn in 2007, but outflows in the form of illicit capital flight, mostly tax avoidance and evasion by multinational companies facilitated by offshore tax havens and banking secrecy, have been estimated at US $500-800bn a year.
The UNFCCC estimates the costs to developing countries of coping with climate change, overwhelmingly caused by CO2 emissions in rich countries, at US $67bn per year. It is essential that these costs, which would eat up more than half of current ODA, must be met through new and additional funding by rich countries.

For further information.

Poverty increased 40% since yesterday, according to AAA, by Roberto Bissio.

The “final final” draft of the AAA being circulated today includes an increase of almost 50% in the world poverty estimates, from one billion in yesterday’s draft to 1.4 billion people in today’s document.
That increase in the poverty figures might be a reaction to the civil society groups pointing to the obvious discrepancy of the AAA figures with the latest World Bank estimates. But civil society lobbying was not succesfull in reintroducing the date of 2015 as the target for meeting the MDGs, a reference that was there in previous drafts but was ommitted in the current ones, maybe as an indirect recognition that aid has not been enough to meet the goals to which the presidents committed themselves solemnly in 2000.

For the whole article.