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Introducing 'Structure of program'

posted by: ADG, 06 Jan 2011, 15:29 PM     category: 1. Structure of program
The Review Team's 1st task in their TORs is to figure out the best: geographic and sector focus of the program; focus on low and middle-income countries; and costs/benefits of different forms of aid. That's a big topic in itself! Let's unpack these soon... To help start them out, feel free to post up an idea on this.
 
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Monitoring aid projects

posted by: Matt Morris, 12 Jan 2011, 08:06 AM     category: 3. Efficiency & effectiveness
Fixing feedback loops ought to be a key reform to improve effectiveness and efficiency. There are lessons from a growing movement among NGOs who use technology to involve communities in the monitoring of projects. This helps people to provide valuable feedback on whether services are being delivered and enables them hold donors and governments accountable. (For examples see: http://is.gd/kzZNG and http://is.gd/kzZSR)
 
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What sectors will we focus on?

posted by: ADG Team, 04 Feb 2011, 17:08 PM     category: 1. Structure of program

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.

 
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What does doubling aid look like?

posted by: ADG Team, 11 Jan 2011, 16:08 PM     category: 1. Structure of program
Currently Australia gives $4.3 billion p.a. in aid, that's 52 cents per day for every Australian. If every Australian gave up 1 cup of coffee per week we could almost double Australia's aid contribution. What are your thoughts on Australia doubling aid? Please post a comment or idea here on aid.collabor8.net. For those keen to debate this further (offline), the Development Policy Centre is hosting a 'Doubling aid: lessons, challenges and opportunities' Conference in Canberra on Monday 7th February. Please RSVP to rsvp.crawford@anu.edu.au. Also see their site for more details soon: http://devpolicy.anu.edu.au/
 
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Where should aid be directed?

posted by: ADG Team, 25 Jan 2011, 11:40 AM     category: 1. Structure of program
A significant portion of Australia's bilateral aid budget goes to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia (about 1/3 each). Australia has also committed to expanding engagement in Africa (ref AusAID budget FY10-11 bit.ly/fGUXmV). Where do you think aid should be focused? Barry suggests (comment on Doubling Aid) more attention for the Pacific. 'Just a suggestion' (comment on Doubling Aid) advocates the case for forgotten countries, or promising reformers. Stephen Grenville on Lowy's blog (http://bit.ly/i71M1O) suggests narrowing the geographic focus. The DevPolicy conference will look at Asian case studies (http://bit.ly/e4Zrog). But, what are your thoughts? We'd like to hear from you. Please post an idea or add a comment here.
 
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Should aid be given to further Australia's national interest?

posted by: Sam, 19 Mar 2011, 14:34 PM     category: 5. Reviews, evaluation & risk

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.

 
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What does aid effectiveness mean?

posted by: ADG Team, 28 Jan 2011, 12:37 PM     category: 3. Efficiency & effectiveness

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.

 
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What about our org structures?

posted by: ADG Team, 04 Feb 2011, 13:58 PM     category: 4. Organisational structure

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.

 
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How to best mix forms of aid?

posted by: ADG Team, 04 Feb 2011, 16:47 PM     category: 1. Structure of program

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?:

  • The share of Australia's ODA channelled through multilateral organisations is currently relatively low, at 14% in 2007, below the DAC average of 24% (http://bit.ly/ib1Z1X)
  • What of the role for partner countries' own delivery of aid, a key theme of the 11-signed Pacific Partnerships for Development? (http://bit.ly/ig62V7)
  • What can be learned from the approach and experience of non-state donors, such as the Clinton (http://www.clintonfoundation.org/) and Gates Foundations (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/)?

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.

 
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Investing directly in partner government capacity

posted by: David, 15 Feb 2011, 04:02 AM     category: 3. Efficiency & effectiveness

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.

 
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