2 Responses

  1. Danielle Cave
    Danielle Cave January 29, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Hi Jane & Jonathan.

    I want to make an important correction to the above comment that quotes me as discussing the geographical direction of Australian aid. That was not me, but in fact Stephen Grenville, a consultant on financial sector issues in East Asia and Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy who made those comments in the new Lowy aid blog:

    http://aidreview.lowyinterpreter.org/post/AusAID-Review-Narrow-the-geographic-focus.aspx

    Since Stephen’s post, further discussion on the geographical direction of Australia’s aid program can be found here http://aidreview.lowyinterpreter.org/ if you are interested

  2. Jane Thomason
    Jane Thomason January 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    As a development practitioner, who has been focussed on implementation for 30 years, I would like to make two observations. Firstly, I think the title of the DAC paper referred to, is a little misleading. The title “12 Lessons on Effective Aid Management” based on lessons from DAC peer reviews, made me interested enough to immediately go to the source paper to see what Richard Manning had learned about poverty reduction between 2003 and 2008. I was a bit disappointed to read an account on how donors could organise themselves domestically and in the field, and relate better to other donors. Does that matter? Probably not to the poor. Does it matter to anyone else? Maybe… but where is the evidence?

    The focus of Manning’s paper – and if we are honest, Paris and Accra as well – is around ‘aid architecture.’ Development assistance is always a delicate balance among competing priorities – but in recent years, there seems to have been a far greater focus on such policy, strategy and organisational issues on the donor side – at the expense of the evidence around poverty reduction in countries. It is time for the pendulum to swing back.

    That, notwithstanding, some of the report findings are particularly relevant to the scaling up of the Australian aid program – for example:

    Managing competing national interests: Human resource shortages in many developing countries are acute and impeding the provision of basic services to the poor. The coordination between Australia’s immigration program and its development program is an example where there is an acute need for greater dialogue and policy coherence.

    Managing contributions to multilaterals: With so much money to spend, it will be tempting to give more money to multilaterals. Do we apply the same transparency and contestability criteria to multilaterals as we do to the rest of the aid program? Manning suggests that greater effort will also be required to ensure stronger strategic and operational connections between multilateral and bilateral programs at country level are made.

    Decentralisation of management to the field: Challenges noted include the need to develop high quality lean supporting systems in the field, as well as a reality of higher field operational costs and potential conflicts between headquarters and the field. A comment by Danielle Cave from a recent blog is worth repeating here…

    ‘The greater shortage, however, is effective and expert administration. Effective implementation requires detailed knowledge of the recipient country and a sharply focused experience of what can and can’t be done with foreign aid. (Danille Cave, Interpreting the aid review)..’

    Fewer countries, fewer activities and fewer sectors: How does this reconcile with Australia’s direction of expansion and scaling up of the aid program?

    ‘The case for narrowing the geographic distribution is strong. There are plenty of poor people in the countries closer to us, which (incidentally but additionally), have more strategic importance. Almost half the Indonesian population lives on less than two dollars a day. If we think that AusAID can shore up and reform failing governments, there are enough of those in the Pacific. Thus there is plenty to do close to home (Danille Cave, Interpreting the aid review)’.

    Performance-based management, evaluation and quality control: DAC peer reviews have pointed to the need to maintain independence of evaluation’s functions to ensure the objectivity and reliability of findings. It will be interesting to see if Australia moves closer to the latest DFID measures to improve transparency and value for money. The recent review of TA and the current review of aid effectiveness suggests that it will.

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