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Africa: "Aid" Gaps & Questions, 2
Sep 7, 2008 (080907)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"An exit strategy from aid dependence requires a radical shift both
in the mindset and in the development strategy of countries
dependent on aid, and a deeper and direct involvement of people in
their own development. It also requires a radical and fundamental
restructuring of the institutional aid architecture at the global
level." - Benjamin Mkapa, President of Tanzania 1995-2005
The issue about "aid," almost everyone agrees, is not just
quantity, but quality. But what determines quality, and who should
make those judgments? Answers to these questions, argues Yash
Tandon in a new book, require rethinking the "aid" system
fundamentally. As noted by civil society organizations at a
parallel session to the official OECD "High Level Forum on Aid
Effectiveness" (http://tinyurl.com/6z3rog), the "donors" are still
tinkering with superficial changes rather than confronting these
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the preface to
Tandon's book Ending Aid Dependence, by President Mkapa, and from
the final chapter of the book. It also contains excerpts from civil
society statements at Accra.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from
a report to the UN Secretary-General on gaps in meeting
international commitments to development.
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on aid and global public
investment, visit http://www.africafocus.org/aidexp.php
For additional background, see
For an earlier article raising similar issues, by William Minter
and Salih Booker, see http://www.africafocus.org/editor/aid0207.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Aid: Rethinking Old Concepts
Benjamin W. Mkapa, President of Tanzania 1995-2005
Pambazuka News 394: Effectiveness of aid or ending aid dependence?
The following is the foreword to Yash Tandon's new book, Ending Aid
Dependence, published by Fahamu Books, September 2008. For more
information please visit, http://www.fahamu.org/publications.
The primary and long-term objective of this monograph is to
initiate a debate on development aid, and to lay out a doable
strategy for ending aid dependence. An exit strategy from aid
dependence requires a radical shift both in the mindset and in the
development strategy of countries dependent on aid, and a deeper
and direct involvement of people in their own development. It also
requires a radical and fundamental restructuring of the
institutional aid architecture at the global level.
A more immediate objective is to start a dialogue with the OECD's
Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which forms the basis of a
high level meeting in September 2008 in Accra, and to caution the
developing countries against endorsing the Accra Action Agenda (the
'Triple A') offered by the OECD. If adopted, it could subject the
recipients to a discipline of collective control by the donors
right down to the village level. And this will especially affect
the present donor-dependent countries, in particular the poorer and
more vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the
Caribbean. ...Beyond the Paris Declaration, there is still the
question: What then? There has to be a strategy for ending aid
dependence, to exit from it.
There are countries in the South that have more or less graduated
out of aid, such as India, China, Brazil and Malaysia, and there
are others which will soon self-propel themselves out of aid
dependence. In fact, aid was never a strong component in the
development of either India or China. They have been reliant on
their own domestic savings and the development of a domestic market
through the protection of local enterprises and local innovation.
They have opened themselves up in recent years to the challenge of
globalisation and foreign competition only after ensuring that
their own markets were strong enough. Brazil, on the other hand,
was an aid-dependent country until only recently. Both Brazil and
Malaysia have succeeded in ending their aid dependence through
strong nationally oriented investment and trade policies. These
included supporting and protecting the domestic market and export
promotion, as well as the currency, fiscal and monetary policies
that go with them.
In an earlier period, during the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called
tiger economies of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan-China and Hong Kong
ended their aid dependence mainly in the context of the Cold War.
These countries were able to use the opportunity provided by the
Cold War not only to draw substantial capital from the West, mainly
the US, but also to build their production, infra-structural
facilities (banking, finance, transport, communications, etc) and
export capacity. They took advantage of the relatively open US
market to export the products of their early manufacturing growth.
They benefited from the fact that the US needed them to fight
communism in that part of the world. This enabled them to initiate
state-supported industrialisation without having to account to
institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, to import
technology without having to pay huge fees for intellectual
property rights, and to build strong reserve funds.
This book is not about them, although valuable lessons can be
learnt from them. We are now living in a different period of
history. This book is about countries that were neither able to
take advantage of the Cold War period, nor had the benefit of a
large domestic market and entrepreneurial class to develop an
endogenous development strategy. We are therefore talking largely
about the hundred or so countries that fall within the
classification of least developed countries (LDCs), the
middle-income countries that are not LDCs but are still struggling
to become economically independent from foreign aid, and the
vulnerable, small and island economies. Geographically, these
countries occupy the huge land mass of Africa, large parts of Asia
and Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands.
The message of this book needs to be seriously considered and
debated by all those that are interested in the development of the
countries of the South. If this means the rethinking of old
concepts and methods of work, then let it be so.
The Future of Aid
*Yash Tandon is the executive director of the South Centre, Geneva,
an intergovernmental think tank of the developing countries.
The following is an excerpt from the concluding chapter of Yash
Tandon's new book, Ending Aid Dependence, published by Fahamu
Books, September 2008. For more information please visit,
http://www.fahamu.org/publications. The book is not yet in stock at
Amazon or Amazon.uk, but can be ordered from Fahamu or from the
Africa Book Centre (http://www.africabookcentre.com).
For far too long the debate on development aid has been constrained
by conceptual traps and the limitations of the definitions provided
by the donors. If the recipients or beneficiaries of aid are to own
the process, as present trends in the development literature sug
gest, then the conceptual reframing of the issues must itself
change its location from the North to the South.
The conceptual starting point is not aid but development. The horse
of development must be put before the cart of aid. Growth,
admittedly, is an important aspect of development ,,,
The most critical aspect of our definition of development is its
political economy and historical context. The developing countries
have gained their political independence, but in most cases they
are still trapped in an asymmetrical economic, power and knowledge
relationship with the former colonial powers that continue to
dominate the process of globalisation, and the institutions of
global governance (the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, WIPO, WCO,
OECD, EU Commission, etc). The developing countries are making
heroic efforts to disengage from this lock-in situation (demanding
policy space, for example). Some of them (the so-called newly
emerging industrialised countries of the South) have indeed
succeeded or partly succeeded, but the bulk of the developing
countries are still trapped in the shackles of history. Africa,
especially, is identified as a continent that has not fared well.
From this trap, Africa and others can liberate themselves only if
they take matters of development into their own hands and do not
leave it to aid and its delimiting and colonising conditionalities,
such as the structural adjustment programmes of the IMF and the
World Bank, and now the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
In other words, the national project, the project for
self-determination, is still on the agenda of political action for
developing countries. Its counter, the imperial project, is also
still alive, but gradually weakening. Its ideology the Washington
consensus and globalisation crafted after the dominant paradigm of
free market liberalism and Western systems of governance, democracy
and the rule of law, has lost credibility and legitimacy.
This is not to undervalue the importance of democracy or the rule
of law. Without these there would be anarchy and oppression. But
these values cannot be imposed on the developing countries from
It is argued here that the present aid and development architecture
at the international level is an obstacle to the realisation of the
national project. Three power asymmetries - economic power,
political power and knowledge power - are deeply embedded in the
existing structures. It is a continuing battle for the developing
countries to try and secure policy space within the constraints
imposed by these asymmetrical structures. ...
At the end of the day, we need a truly heterogeneous, pluralistic
global society that is based on the shared values of our
civilisation, and the shared fruits of the historical development
of the productive forces of science, technology and human
ingenuity. Only on this basis can we build a global society that is
free from want, exploitation, insecurity and injustice.
Civil society statement in Accra warns urgency for action on aid
1st September 2008
[Excerpts. For full statement and extensive additional background
on the Accra meeting and related issues, visit http://betteraid.org]
2008 is an important year for development financing and an
opportunity to move the international community to a more
equitable, people-centred and democratic governance system. Today
1.4 billion people live under the new poverty line of US$1.25, and
the majority of them are women. The current financial, food,
energy, and climate change crises make evident the urgency for
Accra is an opportunity to advance towards a broader agenda of
development effectiveness. The High Level Forum in Accra will be
followed by major United Nations meetings in New York and Doha that
will confirm the huge gap between what has been promised and the
lack of progress in the achievement of the internationally agreed
Development aid is only one part of the equation, and has to be
analysed in the broader context of its interactions with trade,
debt, domestic and international resource mobilisation and the
international governance system. When donors and governments met in
Paris three years ago, technical debates masked deeper political
differences around the broader vision for aid. Some donors wanted
to hand a lot more power, a lot more quickly to developing country
governments. Other donors didn't. What was achieved was a
compromise and has been criticised for its narrow technical
It is urgent that human rights, gender equality, decent work and
environmental sustainability are made explicit objectives of aid.
We call on officials present in Accra to respond with urgency. What
we need in Accra are clear time-bound commitments to deliver real
results for people on the ground, towards the eradication of
poverty, inequality and social exclusion. This is a political not
a technical challenge, and should be treated as such.
What is our 'bottom line' for Accra? So far, the Paris process
looks like a failure. The 2008 Paris Survey shows that donors in
particular have a long way to go in delivering what they pledged.
Accra must deliver a major change in implementation and change how
"effectiveness" is measured by setting new targets and indicators.
All donors must set out detailed plans and individual targets
showing how they will meet their commitments.
But the Accra High Level Forum must also deliver real measurable
and time-bound commitments to address some of the problems which
are not adequately dealt with in the Paris Declaration. Donors must
take responsibility for improvements which only they can deliver
(e.g. untying aid and improving medium-term predictability of aid)
and all governments must increase the democratic accountability and
transparency of their use of aid resources, policies and
Who are we?
Over 600 representatives from 325 civil society organisations and
88 countries have met here in Accra to debate what actions must be
taken to reform aid. 80 civil society representatives have
participated for the last two days in roundtables at this Forum to
communicate those messages and ensure that our voices are heard.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have engaged energetically with
the preparatory processes for Accra organising consultations in
every region, attending meetings of the Working Party on Aid
Effectiveness and commenting on drafts of the Accra Agenda for
Action. Although we have welcomed these opportunities, we are very
disappointed that our views on previous drafts have not been taken
into account, and that the Accra Agenda for Action as it stands
promises little change. ...
Our vision for change
Our vision is of a world where aid is no longer needed; where
poverty is no longer a daily reality for billions of women and men;
where decent work is a reality for all; where global resources are
fairly distributed; where social and gender inequalities are ended;
where indigenous populations are respected; where strengthened
democratic states fulfil economic, social, and cultural rights; and
where global public goods including environmental sustainability
are secured by multilateral international institutions with equal
participation of all countries.
We believe that aid can play an important role in moving us towards
this vision, and that more and better aid is urgently needed to
respond to the scale of the challenges of poverty, inequality and
exclusion. Aid will be effective when it can be clearly
demonstrated that it is indeed addressing those challenges. The
effectiveness of aid should be assessed under a universal, more
democratic and representative platform than the OECD/DAC, such as
within the Development Cooperation Forum at the United Nations.
Effective aid must be based on the principle of democratic
ownership and have poverty reduction, the fulfilment of human
rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability and decent
work as its objectives. When donors impose their own policies,
systems and priorities, they drown out citizens' and recipient
communities' voices, and they undermine the principle of alignment
with developing countries' priorities and systems.
Effective aid should support democratic accountability between
citizens and their governments. Democratic institutions are the
result of national processes for social and political dialogue and
donors should not undermine these efforts or the need for policy
space. Rural development, regional integration and decentralisation
processes in developing countries should be supported by donors
when defined as national priorities.
Effective aid supports the development of transparent and
accountable systems. It needs to be predictable to allow recipient
countries to make medium and long-term plans, and then be aligned
to those plans. It needs to be untied. Yet many donors continue to
deliver aid in order to promote their own interests tying aid to
the purchase of goods from their own national firms, or setting
conditions which promote their own economic interests.
At the heart of many of these problems is a lack of accountability
and transparency. There is not enough reliable and timely public
information about aid flows, or the policies and conditions
associated with them. There is not enough independent evaluation of
donor performance or the impact of aid on the ground. There are not
enough opportunities for citizen, and civil society organisations
to make their voices heard in decision making processes. This
constitutes a systemic obstacle for citizens to hold governments in
donor and recipient countries to account.
The Paris Declaration recognises many of these problems in
principle, but donors have proved unwilling to resolve them in
practice. Even where developing country governments have improved
their performance, donors have not met their side of the bargain.
The slow progress in implementing the Paris principles should be a
source of acute embarrassment and concern for the governments
represented here in Accra.
Both donors and developing countries have responsibilities to make
aid work. However, the process of improving aid effectiveness needs
to move away from conditionality, and not introduce new ways of
imposing conditions, which undermine the right to development and
Accra Action Agenda on Aid: Little Progress in Changing Deeply
Flawed Global Aid System
Written by Aid Watch Philippines
5 September 2008
The Accra Action Agenda (AAA) endorsed by ministers at the 3rd
High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana makes
little real progress towards making aid more developmental.
The AAA fails to address the most essential concerns with the
greatest impact on development in the Third World : democratic
ownership of aid, policy conditionalities, tied aid and the
foreign debt burden. The AAA instead gives undue attention to
technical procedures in aid delivery and management to divert
from its glaring inattention to the development issues that
matter the most.
The Paris Declaration of 2005 raised the promise of improving the
global aid regime. However the AAA supposedly aimed at deepening
implementation of the declaration underscores the deep-seated
resistance of donors to genuine reforms in the aid system. Donors
have effectively still reserved the right to set
conditionalities. They have not committed to eliminating tied
aid. They have avoided making concrete, measurable and time-bound
commitments to building democratic ownership of aid and
development policies. Donors have completely avoided the vital
issue of crushing debt burdens.
Yet "free market" policy conditionalities have gravely harmed
Third World agriculture, stifled industrial progress, and
worsened poverty and unemployment. Tied aid has assured donor
country benefits at the expense of local needs. Ownership has
been claimed more by donors and recipient country elites than
grassroots communities. And debt service by the Third World is
many times the amount they receive in official development
It is an opportunity that the AAA has been compelled to at least
acknowledge these issues and it is welcome that civil society
organizations (CSOs) have an increased presence compared to
previous years. However this opportunity will be meaningless and
the CSO presence will be mere tokenism if there are no clearly
defined and effective reforms in the aid system.
AidWatch Philippines and IBON Foundation are among the CSOs
participating in the 3rd High Level Forum that demand clearly
defined and time-bound commitments to accomplish various targets
by 2010. At the minimum this includes: 1) a broad but clear
definition of ownership such that citizens, CSOs and elected
officials are central to the aid process at all levels; 2)
measurable commitments on the predictability of aid flows by
2010; 3) elimination of tied aid by 2010, with food aid and
technical assistance no longer donor-defined; 4) development and
implementation of new standards for transparency by 2009
including making information available to the public; and 5) an
end to policy conditionality.
ODA clearly remains donor-driven with the main objective of
serving donor foreign and economic policy interests.
Developmental outcomes, if any, are oftentimes just incidental
and only to the extent that donor commercial, political and
diplomatic interests are not threatened. In Accra for instance,
the United States used its clout to dilute language on ownership
and conditionalities while Japan opposed proposals to untie aid.
Recipient governments in turn comply rather than jeopardize aid
flows and possibly important resources for development.
The challenge remains for the people and governments of
underdeveloped countries to reject false aid that does not
genuinely reduce poverty, advance gender equality, uphold human
rights and promote environmental sustainability. Aid must also
not be a matter of charity from rich to poor countries but of
people achieving their right to development with all the
resources at the world's disposal.
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