How Donors Get Aid Effectiveness It Wrong

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Donors have been trying to foster development in Africa for many years, with limited results. Now many are trying to make it more effective. This presentation addresses Canadian donors working in Africa, and outlines how they often miss the point about effectiveness and what they can do instead.

Transcript of How Donors Get Aid Effectiveness It Wrong

  • 1. How donors get aid effectiveness wrong and what they should do instead: Reflections from Tanzania Rakesh Rajani, Independent Africa Canada Forum/CIDA Consultation Ottawa, 4 October 2007

2. Outline of presentation

  • Six things donors do poorly
    • (HakiElimu example)
  • Three concluding reflections

3. 1. Dont conflate method with results

  • Paris principles are about how to disburse aid and manage aid relationships, not change on the ground
  • Keep this in perspective
  • Link method with purpose and results
  • Be open to debate and critique, avoid new orthodoxies and fundamentalisms
  • Avoid harmonization turning into monopoly of thought

4. 2. Apply Paris principles to engagement with CSOs

  • A core idea behind the Paris agenda is to reduce multiple demands on governments so that they can get on with their agenda.
  • CSOs need the same type of support
  • Yet donors continue to apply a double standard:
    • Treat CSOs as contractors
    • Require separate proposals, reports and timeframes
    • CSOs have to fit donors and not vice versa

5. 3. Rethink Accountability

  • When-in-doubt-add-a-requirement reflects a lack of imagination
  • Filling in too many boxes creates a mechanical mindset that undermines responsiveness and a strategic posture
  • Onerous reporting drains time from implementation, often of the best people
  • Requirements passed down the chain
  • Illusion of accountability through bean counting that creates an incentive to lie

6. 4. Avoid the planning fetish

  • Good development practice/strategy is an ability to read the signs and respond, but...
  • Over-planning promotes a rigidity that undermines responsiveness and creativity
  • Planning is not how it works LG PEFAR, business (on this Bill Easterly is spot on)
  • Instead ask CSOs to be clear about the overall goals and then require them to be concrete when reporting

7. 3/4. HakiElimu approach

  • One plan, one budget, one report
  • Joint MOU that sets the terms/principles
  • Multi-year commitment, with predictable annual disbursements
  • Annual narrative (analytical) and externally audited financial report
  • Half year progress brief (against plan)
  • Twice year joint donor/HakiElimu meetings instead of bilateral missions

8. 5. Real accountability

  • Shift accountability from donors to constituencies/citizens (and donors get their satisfaction from the quality of this)
  • Transparency, public disclosure and access to information essential
  • Make internal learning the primary motivation for M&E
  • Create incentives that reward self-critical, reflective practice and learning

9. 6. Donors should do no harm

  • There is an inevitable conflict of interest and incentive among governments and donors to make things look good
  • Donors should not undermine local voices through rosy pronouncements
  • Focus on creating a level playing field for domestic accountability, esp. in making information available and fair rules of the game
  • Develop/implement independent evaluation standards (ref. to CGD work on this)
  • As it gets political, donors need to know how to handle the heat/avoid blunt aid withdrawal

10. Conclusion 1: the present state

  • CIDA and Canadian CSOs are stuck in a runaway train
  • Many are responding from a place of fear, uncertainty , lack of confidence
  • An edge of desperation about the situation but dialogue unable to address it
  • An illusion of progress that barely masks an erosion of strategy and good practice

11. Conclusion 2: what is needed

  • Leadership on both sides, able to:
    • Situate the Paris agenda and role of CSOs within sound development practice
    • Recast accountability to be less onerous, deeper, more effective, and towards citizens
    • Promotes a culture of real learning and intellectual ferment that can rise above the plumbing
    • Able to get outside a technocratic box and develop a keen understanding of (political) drivers of change

12. Conclusion 3: Eyes on the prize

  • At heart development is aboutcitizen agency : the ability of citizens to know and act, to make things happen rather than just have things happen to them
  • This needs to be the key yardstick of success and core of RBM
  • CSOs need to reclaim and renew this role (rather than clamor to be mere conduits of aid); CIDA needs to challenge Canadian CSOs on this rather than narrow concerns