Aid transparency in the Report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Debt, Aid and Trade

The Report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Debt Aid and Trade stresses the importance of coordination between donors, recipient country ownership, and predictability and accountability of aid. Below are the recommendations made in conclusion to the report, with transparency mentions highlighted.

Recommendations that DFID should:
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·         Work with other donors to develop a more rigorous and independent aid effectiveness framework to succeed the Paris Declaration at the 4th High Level Forum in Seoul in 2011, in a process that is driven and led more by recipient countries, their governments and their people.
·         Improve the predictability of its aid and move to providing a significant proportion of its aid on a long-term, stable and timely basis. This information should be made transparent and donor should be held to account when they fail to deliver on their commitments.
·         Seek to expand the proportion of ODA given as budget support but also deliver this alongside more systematic efforts to build the capacity of domestic accountability bodies.
·         Carefully review the conditions placed on its aid, whilst also ensuring it is ‘proactively transparent’ in making all conditions attached to its aid public, in line with its 2005 commitment. The UK government must similarly challenge the use of intrusive conditions by multilateral organisations.
·         Act to make the details of ODA, including conditions, public so that parliaments, civil society organisations and the general population can suitably scrutinise government policy. In doing so, DFID should promote the IATI as a key institution to develop a culture of transparency and accountability within the aid sector.
·         Work with other donors to develop a transparent and binding mechanism to hold donor’s to account in the delivery of their aid commitments and govern aid relationships to ensure that donor countries are jointly accountable for aid initiatives with their partner countries.
·         Shift the emphasis of the principle of mutual accountability towards increasing the accountability of governments to their citizens. Donor and partner governments should recognise that unequal power relationships exist between governments and citizens, and that meaningful democratic participation is key for the creation of domestic accountability. Delivering on democratic ownership through domestic accountability requires a twin strategy of support for government responsiveness and direct support to civil society and citizen empowerment.
·         Work to extend the Paris principles, and all subsequent agreements, by welcoming private and not-for profit aid organisations, who have become significant aid donors since 2005 yet who sit outside of the Paris framework, to engage and participate in the process of creating the successor to the Paris Declaration. This co-operation needs to address head-on the significant fragmentation of the aid industry and promote greater and more effective mutual accountability beyond governments.
·         Make far greater use of its leadership position in international development to develop a more effective and robust aid system that addresses current major systemic weaknesses, such as aid fragmentation, aid volatility and lack of predictability in aid flows. The UK should use its substantial influence to encourage other governments to meet the 2010 targets as set out in the Paris Declaration and to bring other governments in line with the principles therein.
·         Work with other donors to broaden the definition of Paris Declaration indicator 12 – mutual accountability – so that ‘country-level mechanisms’ for assessing progress become multi stakeholder and include parliaments and civil society in planning and decision making processes, and increase the role of the UN Development Cooperation Forum in the aid effectiveness process.
·         Undertake a full assessment of the implementation of DFID’s guidance on technical assistance prior to the next HLF on Aid Effectiveness in November/December 2011. Use the upcoming 2011 HLF to raise the Paris Declaration target on technical assistance to be aligned with national programmes from 50% to 100%, develop a stronger methodology for monitoring reforms to make TA more country owned and coordinated, and ensure that TA is linked to institutional building and capacity development in a process that is recipient led, demand-driven and in line with country needs and priorities.
·         Increase its transparency on TA across all levels of reporting in line with standards established by the International Aid Transparency Initiative, ensuring that documents – including contracts, costs and successful bids – are available via a central and publically accessible database for interested and affected parties.
·         Ensure that it has significant in-country knowledge. Whilst outsourcing brings in new ideas and perspectives, it has also led to a dearth of in-house knowledge and insufficient in-country capacity to negotiate, design and implement support programmes. DFID must ensure that it has the capacity and knowledge to understand how best to help the poor in the very different contexts in which it operates whilst also retaining adequate institutional memory of what works and what does not.
·         Give greater priority to reviewing and understanding the main factors that help and hinder aid’s overall impact and effectiveness, in part by commissioning joint evaluations with other donors and by working more closely with recipient countries and their governments to help them address gaps in their knowledge and build their research and evaluation capacities.
·         Spend more of its aid budget on strengthening parliamentary oversight and audit institutions in those countries that receive UK aid.
·         Work in collaboration with partner countries and other donors to develop clear criteria for judging NGO projects to ensure that there is value added from their patron.
·         Stay engaged. Over the longer-term, established donor-recipient relationships can contribute to building confidence and trust, which can help recipient countries adopt sound policies that they may initially find politically difficult to implement. Thus, donors need above all to stay engaged to help improve and build country capacity in inhospitable contexts and enhance transparency and accountability. DFID should not ‘pull out’ of such situations.
To read the report, click here.

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