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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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Forum on the Future of Aid: Southern CSOs put their Stamp on Aid Policy

By Bill Morton

This article underlines the importance of the meeting in establishing a Forum that is led by Southern CSOs and that is focused on influencing aid policy. It also refers to some of the presentations on ownership and conditionality that were made at the workshop.
You will find this article on page 8 of the Review Newsletter from The North-South Institute.

To read the full article, click here

Consideraciones sobre la Efectividad de la Cooperación Externa Oficial en Nicaragua e implementación de la Declaración

Autor: Carlos Pacheco y Julia Metcalfe

El presente documento es un estudio de caso que busca abordar la situación actual y las perspectivas en cuanto a la implementación de la Declaración de París (DP) en Nicaragua. En él se recogen los aportes y opiniones, a través de entrevistas e información documental, de diversos actores vinculados al tema del desarrollo y la cooperación.
Representantes del gobierno, donantes y sociedad civil aportaron su apreciación sobre los avances y contradicciones en la aplicación de los compromisos asumidos en la DP (planes de acción, procesos de monitoreo), así como también de las dificultades en su implementación.

Para leer el documento, haga click aquí

Avances de Honduras en armonización de la Cooperación Internacional después de la Declaración de Paris.

Autor: Sally O’Neill

El presente documento pretende revisar las experiencias de la implementación de la Declaración de Paris en Honduras desde la perspectiva de organizaciones de la sociedad civil (OSC).
La investigación está basada en más de 50 entrevistas a representantes del gobierno, principales donantes bilaterales y multilaterales; ONGs internacionales con presencia en el país; y representantes de OSC hondureña. Estos actores aportaron sus experiencias y percepciones sobre la implementación de la Declaración de Paris en Honduras en términos de coordinación, armonización y alineamiento de la ayuda internacional.
La investigación arrojó que se requiere mayores esfuerzos por parte de todos los actores para lograr una mayor efectividad de la asistencia oficial para el desarrollo.

Para leer el documento, haga click aquí

Old habits die hard: aid and accountability in Sierra Leone


The paper analyses Sierra Leone as an interesting case to see to what extent practices have changed since the Paris Declaration (PD) in 2005. The fact that the government of Sierra Leone is so highly dependent on aid and carries limited weight in the international community clearly poses a challenge for real shifts in power relations to take place. The research focuses on questions of accountability and ownership and it is primarily concerned with whether the commitments agreed to in the PD have translated into a more accountable, democratic and country-driven aid system.
Based on interviews with donor, government and civil society representatives, the paper exposes the situation of aid in the country and finds not so surprising that Sierra Leone has not moved forwards more quickly in improving the aid system and in implementing more efficient and effective aid modalities.
Finally, the paper presents some recommendations that Donors, Government and Civil Society should follow in order to improve the quality of aid.

To read the full paper, click here

Turning the Tables Aid and accountability under the Paris framework

Author: Lucy Hayes and Javier Pereira

This report is the result of research in seven aid recipient countries, conducted by southern and northern civil society organisations (CSOs) and coordinated by the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad). It is focused on the progress against two principles of the Paris Declaration –ownership and accountability.
The report is based on analysis of aid effectiveness using factual data and interviews conducted in Cambodia, Honduras, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger and Sierra Leone, presenting detailed up to date insights from civil society and government representatives. Each case study brings evidence and opinions to help generate understanding and debate ahead of the official aid effectiveness processes taking place in 2008.
Finally, It provides a set of recommendations to be follow both by donors and recipient countries.

To read the full paper, click here

Road Map to Accra


The OECD has produced a three page document summarising the process and content of the Accra HLF III.

Click on the attachment below to read the summary

Country Study, prepared for Southern Perspectives on the Reform of the International Development Architecture - Vietnam

By Nguyen Thi Thu Hang

This study shows the important role that aid has played in supporting Vietnam’s impressive growth and poverty reduction; but that its importance is decreasing relative to other sources of development finance such as FDI and remittances. It describes the Government of Vietnam’s strong ownership of the development process, examines the roles of key multilateral and bilateral donor institutions, and makes recommendations on reform that will further strengthen ownership. The paper was produced for the Southern Perspectives research project

Click here to read the full paper

From Paris 2005 to Accra 2008: will aid become more accountable and effective?

The International CSO Steering Group

This draft position paper has been prepared by the International CSO Steering Group (ISG) coordinating the “CSO Parallel Process to the Ghana High Level Forum Network”. The ISG coordinating CSO Parallel Process to the Ghana High Level Forum network brings together various local, national, regional and international NGOs who are engaged in development issues, particularly the aid architecture and the aid effectiveness agenda. This network is involved in a multi-stakeholder process of engagement leading towards the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Accra, Ghana, in September 2008.

This paper is being presented to CSOs around the world for further edits and suggestions, as well as endorsement sign-on. This position paper will then be presented to the High Level Forum III where CSOs have requested to speak to the Ministerial meeting.

The network is keen to develop awareness of the aid effectiveness agenda at the local, national and international level and sees the Ghana HLF as an important opportunity for bringing about discussion and debate and the engagement of CSOs on the said agenda. CSO concerns include among others, governance and accountability, ownership, effective aid delivery, tied aid and conditionality, at the same time ensuring that the core issues of gender equality, human rights and solidarity in the aid architecture are seriously addressed.

The list of current partner networks involved in this initiative include ActionAid International, Afrodad, Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), UK Aid Network, Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), CIVICUS, CONCORD (European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development), Eurodad, IBIS, IBON Foundation, Ghana CSO Aid Effectiveness Forum, SEND (Social Enterprise Development Foundation of West Africa), Reality of Aid, Social Watch, Third World Network, Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE). The International CSO Steering Group is currently under the chairmanship of IBON for the Accra High Level Forum.

Click on the attachment below to read the full document

Influencing International Aid Policy

By Simon Burall and Ajoy Datta

This paper has been prepared as background for the strategic planning process of the Forum on the Future of Aid (FFA) which takes place in Uganda in February 2008. FFA is a space for Southern research institutes and think tanks to exchange information, research and ideas in order to increase the impact of southern-led research on international aid policy and on the reform of the international aid architecture. The paper is based on the assumption that, while Southern organisations were unable to consistently access policy debates about the reform of the international aid architecture in the past, this situation has now changed; a number of relevant international fora have been developed or opened-up over the past three to five years. This paper presents evidence for this assumption and explores ways in which Southern researchers can increase the impact of their research in the light of this. The paper is presented in four sections.

The introduction briefly highlights recent changes to the international aid system. Section two describes the fora which Southern researchers could gain access to and use to contribute to and influence policy debates. Recognising the importance of both the national and international levels for determining the impact of aid policy on partner country development, the descriptions of the fora are split into two broad sections; the paper first briefly examines fora and processes in partner countries, before examining four key international fora where aid policy and the reform of the international aid architecture are discussed. These four are: the follow up UN Conference to Financing for Development; the UN ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum; the OECD/DAC third high-level forum on aid effectiveness in Ghana; and the OECD/DAC Global Forum on Development. Under each forum, a brief description of the process is given, the key stakeholders and decision-makers are identifi ed, and where possible any parallel civil society processes are noted. A summary of the key issues that the forum will cover is also given.

Section three of the paper then takes a step back by drawing on the large body of literature which explores how research can infl uence policy. This section highlights the messy nature of the policy making process before looking at the role of evidence in the policy process. It explores the nature of evidence and how it is viewed within the policy process, using this understanding to explore how researchers can think about the type of evidence they generate in order to increase its impact. It then highlights how important it is for researchers to build links not only with policy-makers, but also with other stakeholders. This third section then briefly describes a theory of communication and proposes that Southern researchers should consider using research in order to infl uence the terms of the aid policy and architecture reform debates rather than focusing their energies on trying to influence specifi c aid policies. It highlights the importance of researchers developing a communications strategy at the beginning of any research project and suggests a number of questions to guide the development of such a strategy. Finally, the third section proposes a matrix which researchers could use to help the process of identifi cation of which international forum/fora are most important in terms of their strategic aims. This matrix consists of a series of questions and has been partially fi lled out in order to help stimulate discussion at the FFA strategic planning process.

Click here to read the full piece

Southern Voice on Conditionality and Ownership: Towards Achieving Authentic National Ownership

By Antonio Tujan

This synthesis paper brings together the various issues and perspectives raised by the six different opinion pieces
on ownership and on conditionality written by Southern experts on development cooperation and aid. This paper
also draws from current research and debate on the issue of ownership and conditionality in development cooperation and aid. Southern perspectives on the issue of ownership and conditionality are naturally inclined toward the broader concerns of power imbalances that frame and permeate development cooperation and aid. To address these broader contexts and concerns, this paper dissects the different notions of ownership from theory to practice (page 2) and then tackles the realities of ownership from a broader frame from the power dynamic of international relations to the powerless conditions of the poor in the villages to the actual practice of aid management (page 3-10). This paper then dissects the concepts and practice of conditionality leading to its thesis on eliminating conditionality (page 10-14).

In conclusion, the author states that the politics and the technicalities of aid are so complicated that Southern voices would recommend that to set things in the aid system upright, it must stand on its head. Ownership by the poor, being the ultimate objective of aid, would be a good start to address the question of ownership and conditionality. Starting with this premise, then it is clear that the crucial test of aid effectiveness is whether the poor are able to claim their human rights. This is what development effectiveness means and challenges the notion of development effectiveness in other circles such as in the UN where the fundamental benchmark of success is not necessarily the poor claiming their rights. This is not mere rhetoric but identifying and committing to a genuine standard and goal for aid reform. In the face of complexity of the aid non-system, in the challenges of aid reform considering the diffi culties of building democratic governance, equitable international systems and capacities
for development, ownership by the poor in the context of national and democratic ownership of development provides guidance for aid reform. In particular
• The Paris Declaration presents an important opportunity to implement aid reform along with commitments to scale up aid. The challenge for all development actors is how to implement the PD comprehensively and not in a technicist manner, and enrich it by developing innovations along its principles to build country ownership, including the increased involvement of all CSOs, parliaments, media and other actors.
• Authentic ownership must be constantly promoted in contradistinction to technicist erosion of ownership and must be enriched to its full concept of national and democratic ownership as the overriding principle that involves leadership in harmonization, alignment, domestic accountability, donor accountability to the country, and aid management with the human rights of the poor as the overriding concern.
• National ownership involves formulating independent development financing strategies that take advantage of the multiplicity of sources for development assistance and opportunities for development fi nance but premised on development for its people instead of labour export and fi nance liberalization.
• Conditionality should be addressed comprehensively in the process of aid reform alongside commitments under PD. Contractual and accountability obligations should be built outside the framework of conditionality but along new modalities of partnership based on national ownership as mandated by the Paris Declaration, where policy conditionalities are completely removed and contractual obligations reduced and reformed.
• Ultimately, the MDGs should be made a genuine challenge for aid effectiveness in targeting the poor in their communities, turning these into centres of empowered ownership by adopting rights-based approaches to development, improving local government accountability and strengthening recognition and roles of CSOs.

Click here to read the full piece

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