Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Civil society statement in Accra warns urgency for action on aid

Over 600 representatives from 325 civil society organisations and 88 countries have met in Accra to debate what actions must be taken to reform aid, and finalize their recommendations to the Third High Level Forum (HLF3) on Aid Effectiveness starting today. CSOs have engaged energetically with the preparatory processes for Accra over the last year. Although they have welcomed these opportunities, they are very disappointed that the Accra Agenda for Action as it stands promises little change. Since the Paris Declaration of 2005, donors in particular have made very slow progress in making aid more effective. Too much aid remains driven by donors' priorities and interests rather than by the national priorities defined by developing countries.

CSOs call on officials present in Accra to respond with urgency. What is needed in Accra are clear time-bound commitments to deliver real results for people on the ground, towards the eradication of poverty, inequality and social exclusion. This is a political not a technical challenge, and should be treated as such. The Accra HLF must also deliver real measurable and time-bound commitments to address some of the problems which are not adequately dealt with in the Paris Declaration. Donors must take responsibility for improvements which only they can deliver (e.g. untying aid and improving medium-term predictability of aid) and all governments must increase the democratic accountability and transparency of their use of aid resources, policies and activities.

If the Accra High Level Forum is to be seen as a credible response to the serious challenges of making aid more effective, the Accra Agenda for Action must at a minimum:

* Commit to broadening the definition of ownership so that citizens, civil society organisations and elected officials are central to the aid process at all levels.
* Set time-bound and monitorable targets to:
- Stop short-term aid and commit to ensuring that 80% of aid is committed for at least 3-5 years by 2010.
- Reduce the burden of conditionality by 2010 so that aid agreements are based on mutually agreed objectives.
* Set a more ambitious target to make all technical assistance demand-led by 2010.
* Commit to end tied aid, including food aid and technical assistance, by 2010.
* Commit donors and recipients to make the aid system more accountable by developing and implementing new standards for transparency by 2009 which ensure that accurate, timely, accessible and comparable information about aid is proactively communicated to the public.
* Commit to improve the monitoring of aid effectiveness by adapting existing Paris indicators and by integrating new indicators from the Accra Agenda for Action by 2009; by supporting independent and citizen-led monitoring and evaluation systems and by agreeing an inclusive evaluation process to assess the impact of Paris on poverty reduction, gender equality, human rights and environmental sustainability.

Please find the full statement at www.betteraid.org.

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