Monday, 7 April 2008

Patchy progress: Aid and accountability under the Paris framework

(Eurodad) A major new civil society report, Turning the Tables: Aid and accountability under the Paris framework, shows that the world’s rich countries have only made patchy progress in making aid more effective for helping the poor, despite high-profile commitments to reform aid. The report, by Eurodad in collaboration with nine other African and European NGOs, showcases fresh evidence from seven developing countries. It reveals that some development agencies have introduced new policies and procedures, but many are slow to change.

2008 is a critical year for evaluating how aid is helping tackle global poverty and inequality. It is time to review the commitments that 61 rich countries and multilateral agencies signed up to in Paris three years ago. This agreement was a step in the right direction, but donors still have a long way to go to implement their pledges for a more effective, transparent and accountable aid system. “Aid is still too often dominated by rich country agendas and spent on their consultants. When those programmes fail to produce results, nobody is held accountable”, said Lucy Hayes from Eurodad, the European Network on Debt and Development. “Donors such as the European Commission and European governments must deliver on their aid commitments. They have the power and the major responsibility to take the first steps to making their aid money work better for poor people”.

The report is based on case studies that have been carried out in Niger, Mali, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Honduras, Nicaragua and Cambodia. The report highlights current successes and failures by European donors, and sets out recommendations for changing practices. Some of the findings include:
1. Heavy bureaucratic procedures by the European Commission continue to hamper its aid, and make its payments very unpredictable.
2. France has been financing its aid to Mozambique by recycling its debt service.
3. Spanish debt relief to Honduras is boomeranging back to benefit Spanish companies and organisations.
4. The World Bank is still using its aid to try and force controversial economic reforms in Mali.

“It is very hard for us to see what aid is coming into our country,” said Christian Lawrence, from the Campaign for Good Governance in Sierra Leone, “Donors are not transparent enough about their aid and do not account to citizens in developing countries. Without good information about the money coming in, we cannot scrutinise whether it is being well spent”.

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