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Forum for the Future of Aid

Southern Voices for Change in the International Aid System Project

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next

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‘Mediating’ the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness

By Fackson Banda, SAB-UNESCO Chair of Media and Democracy, Rhodes University, South Africa

The role of the media in public finance management in aid-dependent countries is increasingly becoming an agenda item during meetings about development assistance. A recent workshop called by the OECD Global Forum on Development brought the issue into sharp relief. At the core of the discussion was the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, adopted in 2005.

The OECD meeting did not discuss the media as a central theme. And yet the workshop theme of ‘ownership in practice’ suggests strong citizen engagement in the development process. Perhaps, the ‘silence’ on mediation typical of most official documents accounts for the uncertainty usually exhibited about the place of the media in the matrix of development financing.

Indeed, the Paris Declaration does not acknowledge the role of the media. But it spells out many commitments which only active media engagement can help actualise. For example, it urges aid-reliant countries to elaborate ‘national development strategies through broad consultative processes’. It reiterates this by enjoining upon such nations to ‘encourage broad participation of a range of actors…’ It urges both donor and partner countries to curb ‘corruption and lack of transparency, which erode public support’.

These commitments are central to media engagement in creating a dialogic environment in which civil society can hold national leadership accountable for the utilisation of development assistance. And yet the declaration only assumes this. Its emphasis on broad consultative processes is much more than one-to-one consultation. It implies civic engagement on a large scale. While foregrounding the ends of consultation, ownership and participation, the declaration omits the means through which such processes can be realised broadly.

It is important, therefore, that any exposition of the Paris Declaration explicitly analyses the role of mediation in strengthening citizen participation in development financing.

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Kylie Prince
mediating the paris declaration on aid effectiveness
Submitted by Kylie Prince (not verified) on Tue, 2007-11-06 02:36.

Maybe when National ledership develop its core strength and REALISES their power of civil responsibility in developing assistance on a large scale AND the benefits the public finance management in aid-dependent countries can bring to this cause, then they will be beating down doors to mediate in their own capacity. For the media facilitated merely but a window of opportunity.

I could not believe my eyes
Submitted by avaiki on Tue, 2007-11-06 05:55.

Kia orana, greetings, all !

Clicking on the Future of Aid with my usual foreboding, I was stunned to see the role of the media listed as a hot topic.

Reading the actual post, by Fackson Banda, furthered my disbelief. I could not believe my eyes.

I was not sure whether to fall to my knees, proclaiming "hallelujah!" or dance about the kitchen, headbutting cupboards in feverish delight. Finally, finally, someone has made a connection between all this immaculately conceived consulting, ownershipping and participating and the one - and only - institution that can make that happen to any degree of significance.

Yes, the media. In supporting Dr Banda's views wholeheartedly, I urge first worlders to forget their familiarity with conflicted corporate media. In developing countries, journalists often play a very real and often very risky role in advancing public debate.

Yet, as is pointed out above, time and time again, the media is taken for granted, its capacities assumed. This in an "information era" pushing for "knowledge economies." Instead of news media taking first place priority for aid funding, we are very often placed last, if at all.

UN agencies, for example, accurately reflect this reality gap with UNESCO information and media programmes just scraping over the US$1m mark - not per minute as per, say, the US military. Per year.

In 2004, an Australian funded survey of Pacific Islands media called for a "confident, well funded and professional" industry. The reality? The website supposed to help coordinate such development has, just three years later, disappeared from view.

I will stop here, lest I start spluttering and foaming at the mouth, but finish with a simple and heartfelt "thank you" for some much needed information leadership from South Africa.

Kia manuia, bon chance,


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