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Aid effectiveness

Ownership by way of expertise

by Andrea von Rauch
Effective development cooperation requires up-to-date capacity building. Accordingly, a key issue of the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) is the reinforcement of capacities in the partner countries. InWEnt has adequate instruments. [ By Andrea von Rauch ]

Since its beginnings more than half a century ago, development cooperation has changed considerably. Ever since the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, approved in 2005 by more than 100 representatives from both donor and partner countries, the following five principles apply:
– reinforcement of partner countries’ ownership,
– alignment of aid to policies, procedures and institutions of the partner countries,
– harmonisation of donor countries’ aid programmes,
– managing for results, and
– mutual accountability of donor and partner countries’ as well as to parliaments and the public in general.

In September 2008, the governments of donor and partner countries confirmed these princilpes at a high-level forum in the capital of Ghana. In the closing statement of the conference – the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) – they agreed that aid effectiveness needs to be boosted at three levels:
– Strengthening country ownership over development:
The AAA invites partner countries to come up with new development concepts and provide implementation autonomously. The donor countries renewed their commitment to generally operate through the national budgets and procurement systems of the partner countries.
– Building more effective and inclusive partnerships for development: Reduction of development expenditure through enhanced division of labour among donors led by the partner countries. This includes participation of all actors: bilateral and multilateral donors, global funds, civil society as well as private economy.
– Delivering and accounting for results: Results-orientation and mutual accountability already figured prominently in the Paris Declaration. After Accra, shared evaluation systems are to be expanded. The donors pledged to report their financial commitment transparently, three to five years in advance. The partner countries, in turn, will aim to enhance the management of public budgets.

Capacity building plays a major role

Without independent decision-making competence, partner countries will hardly be able to draft and implement consistent policies or ensure efficient donor coordination. Yet, this is exactly what is demanded in the action plan in order to guarantee effective deployment of government funds in development cooperation.

The Accra summit has thus substantially enhanded the relevance of capacity building. Partner countries have announced that they will identify their requirements regarding all sectors of society (government, parliament, civil society, research instititutes, media and the private sector). The AAA demands to reinforce all relevant actors’ capacities so that they can play their role in the development of their countries. The donor countries agreed to adjusting their contributions according to the requirements of the partner countries.

This is where InWEnt is making a difference. Actors from the partner countries are given the opportunity to acquire expertise and competence to solve their problems at home autonomously. The various programmes are aimed at specialists and executives from the sectors of politics, administration, economy and civil society. Thus InWEnt is supporting self-reliance and independent control of the process of change.

Budget management in the education sector

In Accra, the donor countries reaffirmed that two thirds of their support will be used for programme-based approaches (PBAs). In return, partner countries pledged to shore up both their budget planning and budget management.

Education is one of the sectors that gets most PBA support, which is also due to the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education. The actual improvement of basic education will show whether this approach is successful. That will also depend on education ministries drafting realistic budget plans and effectively controling and monitoring of all spending.

In cooperation with South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, InWEnt has designed a training programme for Southern Africa called “Managing educational costs, finance and budgeting” or MECOFIBU for short. Staff of education and finance ministries are taught how to compile reliable cost plans for the education sector and how to plan and coordinate their own sector appropriately, both at the local and central levels. The programme thus contributes to creating a pool of competent specialists who prepare, organise and implement the change processes.

MECOFIBU is a cooperation of InWEnt and the SADC-Education Policy Support Initiative-Centre of the University of the Witwatersrand. It helps to consolidate the institute’s role in providing regional training programmes. In addition, it helps to increase African structures of capacity building.

Development requires data

Reliable statistical data is indispensable for measuring the effectiveness of development cooperation. In the AAA, the partner countries announced they would enhance their information systems and provide appropriate data. To do so is a daunting challenge, as in many countries statistics are incomplete or do not exist at all.

Since 1972, InWEnt has been training specialists from partner countries’ statistical agencies. With the knowledge gained, they establish the statistical basis for transparency and accountability in their home countries. “We need a stronger public awareness of statistical data being an important basis for everyday life,” says Pali Lehola, general director of Statistics South Africa. “Without statistics, development programmes won’t work, and wrong decisions cannot be corrected.”

Focus on the people

Real cooperation between donor and partner countries require people who manage the transfer of systems on the spot. They have to know how to build intercultural and institutional bridges. InWEnt’s alumni are well prepared for doing so.

As certified specialists, they are deeply rooted in the national environment of their home countries. Some have spent an extended period of time in Germany or Europe, so they are familiar with the objectives, structures and procedures of international cooperation as well as donor countries’ ways of thinking and running operations. Consequently, they are significant multipliers in development cooperation.

Cooperation beyond the training properly helps to foster institutional partnerships. InWEnt keeps in touch with the alumni via international learning associations and numerous regional and subject-specific networks. The Alumniportal Deutschland (Alumni Portal of Germany), which is implemented by five agencies on behalf of the German government, offers manifold social networking functions for exchange of experience and knowledge, including language and training programmes as well as job offers. Thus InWEnt is supporting interdisciplinary and transregional transfer of knowledge. The alumni programme helps to reinforce the autonomous development process of partner countries.

Donor countries equally have to reinforce their human resources in order to provide suitable, demand-oriented aid. This has been laid down in the AAA. Along these lines, InWEnt is running the V-EZ facility, an office that prepares people for foreign assignments in development cooperation. Supplementary management training is provided in joint programmes with other donors and partner organisations. The aim is to support capacity building, donor harmonisation and mutual understanding.

Boosting aid effectiveness inevitably requires better structures in the donor countries and more efficient leadership in the partner counties. By way of training, dialogue and networking, InWEnt is actively promoting onwers’ capacities. As a participant of the 2008 InWEnt Alumni Conference in Montevideo said: “We are convinced we are the agents of change!”