More than one hundred countries – both aid donors and recipients – signed up to the Paris declaration in 2005 in recognition of the need to make aid work better to address the needs of poor people and for development.
In 2006 the OECD coordinated a baseline survey of donor and recipient country performance as a way to monitor progress against commitments from then until 2010 for when targets had been set.
Last month (May 2007) the OECD published the overview of their results obtained from the 2006 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration. The Paris Declaration is an important step in achieving better quality aid and the publication of this report is a positive step in following up on the commitments that have been made.
Following our concerns that the report would not publish the individual data for donors, we are pleased that the OECD has been transparent in this regard. This transparency could have been improved had the 2010 targets also been included in the presentation of the donor data so that it would be easier to compare the baseline information against the targets that have been agreed.
The overall message of the survey is that donors and recipients ‘have a long road ahead to meet the commitments they have undertaken’.
The process has revealed that, although all donor agencies have made efforts to implement the Paris Declaration, there is a significant ‘disconnect between headquarters policies and in-country practices, as illustrated by continued donor-driven technical cooperation and lack of visible progress on untying aid.’ The report suggests that donor headquarters need to provide leadership, acknowledge the costs of delivering aid more effectively, focus incentives on development outcomes and review legal or procedural frameworks than impede implementation.
Some messages that emerge from the report include:
Donors must take immediate steps to:
Action is needed both by donors and recipients of aid, but donors in particular must take more responsibility for their commitments – the report includes some worrying indications that donors are seeking to avoid responsibility, for example by applying definitions that exaggerate their performance.
Make their aid more predictable and report it accurately, so that governments can plan ahead.
Reform technical assistance to ensure that it meets needs identified by the recipient, builds real capacity on the ground and uses local systems wherever possible.
Support country systems – too many donors are continuing to use their own parallel implementation units, and not enough aid is being channeled through countries own administrative systems.
Reduce the administrative costs of aid – each country in the survey received on average over 300 missions from donors in 2005.
This short briefing takes a closer look – using graphs – at some of the results of the survey, in particular looking at the relative performance of European governments and multilateral institutions/ funds.
Thanks to Sarah Mulley from the UK aid network for her contribution to this short briefing.