A Massive Blow

DfID have gone all Anderson Silva on the fight for more effective aid management.

A leaked memo reveals that DfID will be dropping its commitment to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

This is a massive blow. The PD (as it’s known)  is very imperfect, and even the refinements we made in Accra in 2008 left plenty to be desired. But it’s the only real commitment the international community has made to improving donor systems for the management of aid – to making it easier to use, receive, negotiate. What’s worse, it’s one of the few places where recipient Governments are tied down to improvements in the way they themselves manage aid and their domestic resources.

DfID have been one of the biggest motors behind improving the PD and getting the simplification of access to and usage of aid money improved. This is not insignificant. Anyone who has spent time in a developing country Government can see how much of the recipient Government’s time is spent on managing, applying for and reporting on aid – not to mention following up on problems in its access, flow and predictability, all of which are covered by the PD. A conservative estimate for a heavily aid dependent country like Malawi is about 60% of Ministry of Finance time. Probably as much in the most aid dependent sectors, too. (To clarify – dropping the PD does not mean that DfID are abandoning the fight for better aid – but they are dropping their biggest weapon in the fight for better aid management.)

Dropping the PD means DfID have just lost a massive amount of moral authority in the fight to improve the way aid is used, and equally in the fight to improve the way Governments manage their own resources.

I’ll collect my thoughts for a more detailed post.

3 thoughts on “A Massive Blow

  1. Jiesheng

    August 16, 2010 at 10:52am

    It’s indeed a a blow, especially since the PD/AAA is one of the better agreeements besides the MDGs and the Monterrey consensus. Furthermore, DFID’s new leaders plan to achieve “Value for Money” (VfM). How will they ba able to do so if they have curtiailed the path to the PD?

  2. bsanchez

    August 16, 2010 at 11:57pm


    Can’t wait for your more detailed post, because so far all you’ve said is that a lesser commitment to the PD will mean more work for bureaucrats. Not the stuff great stories are made of.

  3. Ranil Dissanayake

    August 17, 2010 at 6:35am

    it’ll come today. It might not be a great story, Bernabe, but whoever said that improving the way aid was used is all about great stories? maybe you don’t consider having a developing country Government more able to respond to its actual duties and problems and less preoccupied with managing a million different donor-imposed admin issues important, but I’ve worked in such Governments and can see how important it is if you want to have a functioning Government.

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