Posts tagged ‘aid effectiveness’

After the horse-trading….

by Dominique Jenkins, Oxfam Popular Mobilization & Media Coordinator

The term horse trading is an Americanism that dates back to early 19th century and refers to intricacies of assessing, bargaining and trading of horses. Apparently one had to be a shrewd dealer in order to obtain the best horse for the best price or vice versa.

Of course Accra, the site of the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, is a far cry from 19th century America but the big dealers or rather donors were no doubt conducting the business of last minute bargaining to come up with aid terms in the interest of their countries. In the end, donors and recipients agreed on five development markers aimed at poverty eradication and aid effectiveness.

Driving around parts of Accra it is easy to see why Ghana is cited by the World Bank one of three countries in Africa that has made considerable progress in effectively using foreign aid to reduce poverty.

Judging by the location of the Forum, Ghana’s International Conference Center, which boasts of large, air conditioned meeting rooms, where wi-fi internet service and copious servings of hot tea, and of course cocoa (Ghana is the world’s second largest producer) were available, and observing the construction site of the impressive new presidential residence, a shopping mall and many upscale eateries frequented by a growing middle class in Accra, it is easy to see why the country has gained this distinction and to assume that things are going quite well for all Ghanaians.

Yet, this burgeoning urban affluence is a stark contrast to the young women and men hawking food and household goods on the streets. Many of them are about two tro-tros (customized vans carrying about 25 passengers around the city and connecting to rural areas) voyages away from villages where things are not quite the same. Of Ghana’s population of 23 million, well over half are small scale farmers and fisher folks living in rural areas and barely making ends meet. And considering that social spending coming from foreign aid is not sufficiently targeted to the rural poor in Ghana, like most countries, many are lacking essential public education and health services.

Helen Palmer/Oxfam

Nyariga village, Ghana: boys playing in the cab of a truck. Nov 2004. Credit: Helen Palmer/Oxfam

As my airplane descended into Dakar, Senegal a few days after the forum, the reality of the need for more and better aid hit home even more. Here urban and rural reside side by side as horses with carts carrying goods and supplies wait right next to BMW SUVs for traffic lights to change. The sanitation workers have been on strike for a few days and street children and others who have migrated from the rural areas dodge overflowing trashcans to beg for money. Senegal, unlike Ghana, is a LDC. The awareness of the need for effective distribution of aid is unavoidable.

So after the horse-trading has ended and everyone has packed up and gone their respective ways the real outcome remains to be seen by those who are at the heart of the issue – the poor and vulnerable in developing countries. The hopes of many, and the benefit to those in need, will be that donors and recipient countries keep their word to ensure that aid is properly filtered to them, and that when the dealing is done all will be better off because of better aid.


September 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

Accra Aid Forum: People’s voices missing

by Viriato Chevane, Advocacy Coordinator in Mozambique, Oxfam GB

Donors and aid recipient’s countries are not the only group interested in development aid. Again and again, civil society organizations from all over the world have been demanding a right to a say in the aid industry.

“Governments from developing countries are shamefully more accountable to donors than to citizens that have queued in poll stations to cast their votes to elect their leaders” – described some of the groups I met with during the civil society for better aid event in Accra.

In Mozambique the coordination of management of aid is done within the spirit of the Paris Declaration, and follows a model of transparency and mutual accountability.

This model is consolidated with the establishment of a memorandum of understanding between donors (the program aid partners) and government and every year the memorandum commitments are translated into concrete triggers associated to specific proposed indicators.

The role of civil society is not clearly defined in this government and donor’s partnership. The lack of internal laws that create space for civil society involvement in different stages of planning, including the budgeting cycle is a concern – describes the Mozambican civil society document for the Accra forum.

This lack of involvement of beneficiaries leads to problems in the definitions of priorities, countries are not growing, exit strategies are not envisaged and this perpetuates dependency. Is this the case to say donors are perpetuating sustainable developing countries?

Flint Duxfield

The group 'Better Aid' puts on a stunt to show how Aid hierarchy ties developing countries in knots - threatening progress towards effective aid and development. Oxfam is working with them to urge governments to make aid work better for people living in poverty. Credit: Flint Duxfield

September 3, 2008 at 1:51 pm 1 comment

One nation with one destiny

by Dominique Jenkins, Oxfam Popular Mobilization & Media Coordinator

“We are one people; we are one nation; we have one destiny,” sang a group of musicians at the opening of the Civil Society Forum on Aid Effectiveness taking in place in Accra, Ghana from August 31 through September 1st. This meeting precedes the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that starts the following day.

Yet as delegates prepare for the forum, the bottom line issues are anything but high level as the decisions made here have a huge impact on very basic services essential to development – such as funding for education and health services, particularly for women.

Just before the start of the official Forum, the Accra Women’s forum was held to strategize. A series of discussions with hundreds of representatives from around the world provided recommendations to make aid work better for women, and help make gender equality a reality.

Performers at opening of Civil Society Forum

Performers at opening of Civil Society Forum. Credit: Oxfam

One participant, Bouare Samake head of the Mali chapter of the Women in Law and Development in Africa program, who works with grassroots women’s development organizations, is particularly concerned that the needs of rural women and families will certainly not be met following this meeting. “The process to obtain funding is too complex and far reaching. Yes, donors pledge money, but the process is often long and not earmarked for women’s issues. Women want to be more involved in the process to assure that our issues are considered at all levels.”

Now, many of our colleagues here are waiting to see how these talks will impact on the 1.4 billion people – most of them women – living below the poverty line are. And through the myriad ways in which their concerns are shared, what they would like to see is donors recognizing that we are one nation with one destiny, one that demonstrates global gender justice and economic justice.

September 3, 2008 at 1:37 pm 3 comments

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