Delivering education (now 1/5 of aid funding) and health services has been a key focus of Australia's aid program. These priorities were reinforced by Foreign Minister Rudd in his statement to the UN General Assembly at the MDGs Summit, September 2010 (http://bit.ly/e45z2Y).
Australia then committed to spending (between now and 2015): A$5 billion on education; A$1.6 billion to women's and children's health; A$1.8 billion to food security; and A$1.2 billion for action on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
What do you think - are these the best sectoral areas of focus for the Australian aid program? It would be interesting to know what you think. Posting an idea or comment takes just a few minutes.
At present, the official objective of Australia’s aid program is to ‘assist developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia’s national interests. Is this fair? Should our aid money be used to further our strategic commercial and geopolitical goals? Or should it be used purely to alleviate poverty in our neighbouring developing countries? Discuss.
Paul Collier (author of The Bottom Billion) suggests that if we were to have two objectives for aid, that one would be aiming for aid effectiveness. So, how do we check aid is effective? And, what does aid effectiveness mean?
Peter McCawley on LowyInterpreter asks this question (bit.ly/gFp13K) and Marjolaine Nicod of OECD presented on this at Lowy's MDGs conference in 2010 (bit.ly/fhFZzg). Is it about doing more to ensure Value For Money for the Australian aid program? (bit.ly/ggQg9U) Matt Morris suggests practical tools in ICT can help beneficiaries measure effectiveness from the ground-up (see post on 'monitoring aid projects'), and on DevPolicy (bit.ly/hbgTb6) he references UK DFID's new plan to focus on programs with a proven impact and use aid to fund cash transfers/Cash on Delivery. Joel Negin has also contributed to the debate on aid effectiveness for Lowy recently (bit.ly/flSiJn).
So, what are your thoughts on this? Are you in the field or in-country? Do you have practical examples of aid effectiveness you'd like to share? If so, please post an idea, or add a comment.
Do you have any particular views on Australia's organisational structures for ODA, including that of AusAID?
Are they effective in delivering aid? Is there any room for improvement? Some other questions you might like to ponder: Is AusAID effective in engaging with, say, the private sector, or NGOs? Again, are there ways that it could improve?
Please let us know what you think, and share constructive ideas you might have.
How should Australian aid design and delivery be balanced between NGOs, multilateral agencies like the UN or World Bank Group, contractors, volunteers and others?
Here are some perspectives, but what do you think?:
It doesn't stop there, though. There are plenty of questions about forms of aid, and the types of instruments we use - so, we'd like your views on this.
As an NGO, contractor or donor agency staffer, volunteer, or regional neighbour - you will have a different way of looking at this. Please take just a few minutes to post an idea or add a comment.
Post-Paris and Doha, it's agreed that to be sustainable, programs should use partner country systems. At that same time, it's also widely recognised that this capacity can be weak, and this weakness threatens implementation. There are various methods of trying to go around this weakness: managing contractors, PMU, in-line TA, etc. This does not help improve government systems. There are also provisions of training, short-term TA, etc. to improve the systems directly. However, often these are not effect because the partner government simply does not have enough people to do all the work it is now tasked to do. It does not have enough budget. Maintenance is another area where no amount of training or systems will do, if the partner government simply doesn't have the cash.
There is an historical taboo against funding "recurrent expenditure." In theory, that's fine, if one is willing to only invest in development at the pace that the local tax system grows -- which may be slowly, or not at all. But this is an arbitrary brake.
Rather: take off the brake, abolish the arbitrary distinction between investment flows and recurrent budget support, and allow resources to be allocated to where the bottleneck is, which is nowadays often in the recurrent budget.