News Roundup: 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

Today, leaders from around the world gathered in Busan, Korea to kick off the fourth OECD High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. Over the next two days, some 2,000 delegates will review global progress toward improving the impact and value of development aid and make new commitments to further ensure that aid helps reduce poverty and supports progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is leading the U.S. delegation in Busan to underscore the U.S. commitment to aid effectiveness, particularly in embracing principles like country ownership and transparency. Secretary Clinton will be delivering a speech at the forum tonight, which will be streamed live at 7:30pm EST.

Transparency is set to be a major topic of discussion at this year’s forum as more countries and organizations sign onto the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards. To read a press release issued by several MFAN partners click here and see below for some news pieces that highlight the issue of transparency and set the stage for the forum:

  • From rags to riches, South Korea hosts forum on international aid (LA Times-November 29) For the next few days, nearly 2,500 policymakers and experts from 160 nations are meeting in Busan to devise more efficient ways of providing international aid. Key participants at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness will be U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Jordan’s Queen Rania. “It is unprecedented that the international aid forum is taking place in a country that once survived on international aid,” a government official in Seoul told the Korea Times newspaper. “In this regard, Korea is a model state whose dramatic transition from rags to riches will help highlight the significance of international aid for during the forum.” But the world’s premier development aid forum has its work cut out for it -– challenges such as getting China and India to assume a bigger role in global aid efforts. Experts are also expected to try to establish a new global framework to improve aid and make it more transparent, as well as establish a monitoring system, organizers said.
  • More Than Good Intentions: Making Development Assistance Work (Huffington Post-Stephen P. Groff, November 28) The only way donors can ensure that their funding is well utilized is if governments and donors work together to support and monitor implementation of a country’s development strategy, making decisions based on the whole picture rather than a small part of it. Six years after the Paris Declaration, some progress has been made in implementing its commitments, but action is still needed on several fronts. First, we must make aid more predictable by being transparent and ensuring that developing country governments receive timely information on how much they can expect to receive from donors in advance and over a period of several years. Without an accurate picture of available resources, it is difficult to make the sound budgetary decisions that in turn can increase the effectiveness of aid.
  • Donors ‘trying to shirk’ aid commitments (Financial Times-Alan Beattie, November 27) Governments are backing away from commitments to make development aid more transparent and better-spent in advance of an international summit on aid spending this week. A draft declaration from a “high-level forum” on aid effectiveness, to be held in Busan, South Korea, this week, reveals that rich donor governments are trying to water down commitments to streamline bureaucracy and use recipient countries’ own financial systems to administer development assistance. The draft outcome document circulated between governments last week and seen by the Financial Times also shows donor governments backing away from firm commitments to end the “tying” of aid to exports from the donor country – a practice reckoned heavily to reduce the effectiveness of assistance. Karin Christiansen, managing director of the aid transparency campaign Publish What You Fund, said donor governments were endangering the credibility of development aid at a time when squeezes on government spending worldwide had raised pressure on aid agencies to show transparency and results. “We’re in the realm of low ambition,” said Ms Christiansen. “Just days before the meeting, some countries are still trying to shirk past commitments, buy time and create loopholes. This should have been a moment for donors to celebrate making their aid more effective, but on most issues they’re fighting to stand still.”
  • Solving Uganda’s budget puzzle (The Guardian Blog-Claire Provost, November 25) Four years ago, researchers at the London-based Overseas Development Institute took up the enormous task of trying to figure out how dozens of donors were spending aid in Uganda, and how that compared with where the government was allocating its own resources. The results were striking: it turned out the Ugandan government was only aware of half the aid being spent in the country, despite routinely requesting this information from donors. Also alarming was just how difficult and time-consuming it was to gather and analyse this information. Mapping donors’ aid spending to a country’s budget is, unfortunately, not a trivial task, even if the data is available. Donors classify and divide their spends in different ways, so researchers had to play a herculean matching game, piecing together how donors’ spends fit into the bigger puzzle.

 

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