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Southern Africa Trust

Aid effectiveness: Trends and impacts of shifting financial flows to Civil Society Organisations in Southern Africa

Southern Africa Trust

Report on Donor Roundtable Dialogue,
2 March 2007, Gaborone, Botswana

SARPN acknowledges Southern Africa Trust as the source of this document:
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The international donor community has put in place processes with the objective of enhancing aid effectiveness for a number of years now. The Rome High-Level Forum on Harmonisation (2003) and the Marrakech Roundtable on Managing for Results (2004) set precedents for the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) which remains a landmark document on aid effectiveness. SADC member states and their international cooperation partners adopted a similar declaration in Windhoek in April 2006. Both the Paris and Windhoek Declarations call upon donor institutions, developing and developed countries to increase their efforts to effectively utilise development resources on the basis of the principles of ownership, harmonisation, alignment, managing for results and mutual accountability. The challenge that remains is the implementation of the declarations and addressing some of the emerging issues, such as how they relate to non-state actors.

A key objective of the Dialogue was to establish the extent to which external donor support to southern Africa civil society organisations (CSOs) is being affected by the new emphasis on aid effectiveness. The argument is that there is a significant shift in the way donors are channelling their support to CSOs, including the pooling of donor support through national and regional intermediaries. This in turn has the potential to shift the dynamics in the way CSOs can influence poverty reduction efforts. Some key questions about the nature and extent of coherence between donor country level support and their regional support to CSOs are also emerging. For example, how does donor support to CSOs working on poverty reduction at the national level link to those CSOs working on regional initiatives.

In addition, there are also concerns about the pace and limited impact of improving aid effectiveness through harmonisation (donor cooperation) and alignment (support to partner priorities), especially in relation to addressing issues of the quality of aid, moving from project support to budget support, aid absorption capacity of southern Africa CSOs, and the limited participation of key interest groups in influencing decisions on how aid is given, managed and utilised, among other issues.

It is in this context that the Southern Africa Trust commissioned a research report on the subject of “Aid Effectiveness: Trends and Impacts of Shifting Financial Flows to CSOs in Southern Africa”. The research findings of this work were presented at a one-day roundtable discussion on 2nd March, 2007 in Gaborone, Botswana.

The roundtable session objectives were:

  • To share the research findings of the draft Southern Africa Trust commissioned research.
  • To discuss ways of strengthening CSOs so as to ensure they can effectively access and manage aid flows (absorptive capacity) to southern Africa.
  • To discuss effective mechanisms and innovative sources of funding for CSOs in southern Africa.
  • To discuss future opportunities for regional CSO-Donor engagement in southern Africa.

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