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Busan: Why aid effectiveness matters

The Busan Civil Society Forum, the preparatory meeting for NGOs prior to the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, finished with a rally cry that aid effectiveness is a life and death issue.

To some it may seem surprising that the 500 civil society participants at the BCSF could get so worked up about a Forum on ‘aid effectiveness’ –  many consider this topic technical and dry.

But for many of the civil society delegates in attendance, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Improving the delivery of aid, in quite simple ways, could transform lives.

Better transparency

Better transparency could free up more resources: Save the Children estimates that efficiency savings from donors signing up to the Independent Aid Transparency Initiative could vaccinate over 350 million more children.

Reducing levels of tied aid (aid that must be spent purchasing good and services in the donor country) and non-local procurement could invest more money in local markets, stimulating growth.

But last night donor country Sherpas (negotiators) were still haggling. Many established donors are shirking the commitments that they signed up to in 2005 in Paris and 2008 in Accra on the pretence that the new donors (from emerging economies like China, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea and so on) can’t commit to such things.

Rich countries need to step up

But from the outset of the Busan negotiations (months ago in Paris) it has been clear that the agreement would need to set out differentiated responsibilities.

And as China is likely to make that clear today rich country OECD donors have no excuse. They need to show global civil society and the world that they mean progress, by agreeing to the following five key things;

1) A concrete commitment to sign up to the Independent Aid Transparency Initiative

2) An improvement on the agreement signed in Accra, committing to use country systems as the ‘default option.’

3) Recognition that strong growth can not be the end point of our ‘vision for development’, instead utilizing inclusive growth as a tool to achieve human rights and sustainable development.

4) A commitment to untie all aid by 2015 at the very latest. Rwanda demand 2013 if this is to have any impact on the Millennium Development Goals and they’ve got a good point.

5) Finally, the OECD donors need to stick to their guns in the preamble and ensure that human rights, democracy and good governance remain key to development. This is ultimately why we are all here.

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