7 Responses

  1. globalissues
    globalissues June 28, 2014 at 5:18 am

    Foreign aid is very important for the economy, we gain strategic partners and our economy is also benefiting in a long run.

  2. Luc Lapointe
    Luc Lapointe March 17, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Dear Roger,

    It’s strange when you look at the 50+ years of ODA, that we are back where it started. Aid was crowdsourced / crowdfunded mostly through religious missions and some economic development. Other initial forms of aid were really “tied” to a colonizing countries benefit. When the hat was passed on to the Private DAC club….it became a “us” and “them” – did it have an impact?? sure…through money at anything it will have an impact!! The question is = Was it strategic and effective?? the answer would be NO.

    As we return to the previous hyper-individual model, there is a sense that it will be more effective but still without any mechanism to measure collective impact. The private sector think they could do better – the new faces of development are “Lifebuoy”, Coca Cola, SAB MIller, etc! As if they can’t produce soap locally and drink fresh juices! I have nothing against corporate participation but again…it sucks money out of the local economy. It doesn’t really create a meaningful impact.

    The new discussion at the OECD to potentially go from ODA to ODE from “aid” to “efforts” still discounts the value of local efforts — what are the real Official Development Efforts? International or locals?

    All this to say that — ODA or ODE will have a real impact when it will be implemented in a more collective context of private. local, and international efforts. Until then…it’s throwing good money at something that needed to be reformed 50 years ago!

    1. Jonah Tisam
      Jonah Tisam May 8, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Totally agreed with Luc.

  3. Robert Tulip
    Robert Tulip March 17, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Roger Riddell’s informative decadal snapshot of aid goals says in the 15 years since 2000 ‘assistance is targeted at the achievement of key Millennium Development Goals’.

    My impression is that a theory of change for poverty reduction is emerging that gives priority to private sector development, seeing the MDGs as a valuable foundation but as lacking sufficient focus on economic growth through inclusive markets.

    This shift to a market focus is based on a growing recognition that direct donor engagement with public sector service delivery can produce perverse incentives and mixed results, by creating dependency and undermining drivers to grow the local tax base.

    A problem in development is that there is no effective representation without taxation. Political legitimacy is based on the social contract of tax. This means one of our core goals should be to enable small companies to become medium sized, producing local jobs, goods, services, customers, models, skills and taxpayers, within a competitive and profitable capitalist economy. The spillover benefits for the poor from support for private sector development can deliver higher value for money and enduring impact for aid investment than some other methods.

    A further intangible theme in aid success that should be analysed in more depth, relating to Roger’s focus on long-term transformational change, is how development links enhance security, often more effectively than military methods do. Stable, prosperous and friendly neighbours have peaceful and productive relationships.

  4. Archer Davis
    Archer Davis February 15, 2014 at 2:24 am

    “there is widespread evidence of donors continuing to recruit public servants to implement their projects, which undermines national capacities, especially in contexts where they are particularly weak.”

    This depends on your viewpoint, of course. If you think that a govt dept is the place for highly educated professionally qualified people, mired in bureaucracy and political influence peddling, then you would take this view.

    From my perspective I would say that taking this demographic cohort out of that context and introducing it to the private sector context of projects, deadlines, measured outputs etc. is a valuable life skill training intervention. The national capability is not just public servants – the broader economy of that country benefits from autonomous professionals who can be mobilised into all sorts of useful activities, rather than attending interminable meetings and industrial tourism visits to irrelevant work environments, as is frequently the case for tenure protected bureaucrats.

    1. Andrew Proctor
      Andrew Proctor March 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      Another perspective on the same point. A donor responsible for the implementation of a project which is public sector based, for example, one involving policy or regulatory reform, will be dependent on having senior project staff who are familiar with the way the public sector works and the key people within it. Such people are not likely to be found in the private sector. While it is true that extracting competent civil servants from their role within the public sector diminishes the capability of that sector, the issue should be judged as one of net benefit, not just whether any costs are incurred. And it is reasonable to argue that, if those civil servants who are hired for project implementation work alongside expatriate staff with appropriate international experience, they will return to their public sector careers with enhanced skills and knowledge.

      1. Leanne Harrison
        Leanne Harrison April 11, 2014 at 9:40 am

        I have been working on projects that foster community empowerment/participation for the past 15+ years. I can see that aid is effective for all three questions raised by Mr. Ridell. In 90% of cases, in community-based projects people have their immediate needs met, they are upskilled and empowered through the process, and have the ability to move on to their next endeavours once a project ends. They are better off for the experience, new skills and the benefits it brings. I think more focus needs to be on supporting community based projects throughout the life cycle of a project, having better baseline information as well as helping groups monitor/document their own change-management processes and results. Overall, the relatively small amounts of money invested in people helps them not only build their own ongoing support mechanisms with government, NGOS and the private sector, more often than not these projects result in a range of diversified livelihood and on-going community activities that are beneficial for themselves and their area. It’s a ‘one step at a time’ process. Investing in communities is a long-term transformational approach. Particularly if you help them understand how the broader policy and climate context is affecting them, and give them the opportunity to feed into pertinent policy processes.

        So, at the community/area level I think aid can be very effective. What I often struggle with is how much money goes into developing enormous reports no one reads or uses – or my pet peeve, government and international agency staff attending endless inter/national meetings. There is then the subsequent twists and turns that the groups implementing projects need to make to plan for, or report on, the latest agency objective/trend or international convention. It is exhausting and time-consuming. And I won’t even mention the satire that is ‘donor harmonisation’ and the Paris Declaration. I wonder how much that meeting cost? What has that done to reduce the silo mentality within organisations let alone between different agencies?

        I have also seen many government officers and others use aid projects to further their own careers and move on to get more lucrative employment elsewhere. You can’t blame them when pay and conditions are uninspiring in their national context. This is a really serious issue for the Pacific Islands. Have you ever tried to meet a Minister of Finance from the Pacific? Only to find they travel to meetings about 200 days a year? Or have recently left to do further their studies or career in Australia? I am being over-dramatic – but the change-over in personnel is a real problem. Within a year you can meet with several different people as they change roles and organisations and countries. There is no long term commitment.

        I think the private sector has an important role to play, but the trickle down effect still doesn’t work for the most vulnerable. We should have learnt that much at least over the past 50 years. We don’t need to look further than our own back yard to see the effects of a market-led economy. The gap between the rich and poor just grows.

        There is a fine balance to be had to keep aid effective. There are very good reasons to help other countries with transport, health, food security, energy, environmental management, education and breaking cycles of poverty. I often think if there was more common sense and less ego it would go a long way in helping make aid more effective.

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