The Accra High-Level Forum: an important step?

Linked with ELDIS.

Published on the blog of the ELDIS community, by jcollodi, September 10, 2008.

The much-awaited Third High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana is at an end. There was much impetus behind the conference and its proposed statement, the ‘Accra Agenda for Action’ (AAA), in order  to progress ‘aid effectiveness’ towards the 2010 targets set out in the Paris Declaration PD. Although improvements have been made – the amount of official untied aid rose from 43% in 2002 to 53% by 2006 – there are issues which need urgent attention. One instance is the area of ‘harmonisation’. Vietnam played host to an average of three donor visits each working day last year, whilst Tanzania’s overstretched civil service produces 2,400 quarterly reports on projects per annum – clearly donors must work together better to reduce this burden.

Much early criticism of the PD was due to its lack of concrete time-bound commitments for donors or firm language compelling the international community to act. However, the AAA seems markedly different. As Simon Maxwell points out, “words like ‘aspire’ or ‘urge’ have been replaced by phrases like ‘starting now, we will’. There are specific targets for 2010, and strong commitments on issues like the need to avoid proliferating aid funds and programmes” …

… There is no doubt that more work needs to be done – the AAA itself concedes that ‘the pace of progress is too slow. Without further reform and faster action we will not meet our 2010 commitments and targets for improving the quality of aid.’

However there are real signs that the Accra forum was an important step towards building a more effective and equitable global aid architecture. For instance, the fact that ‘CSOs were invited to formally participate’, points to a more inclusive aid dynamic – particularly as a commitment to ‘deepen … engagement with civil society organisations’ is now officially enshrined in the AAA. Influential donors presented new initiatives at Accra – the UK’s Department for International Development DFID unveiled the ‘International Aid Transparency Initiative’ which they claim, will make it easier for poor countries to keep track of where aid money is going; and most importantly the AAA did ensure a ‘measure’ of time-bound concrete proposals. There is undoubtedly room to go further but this is significant progress from the ground-breaking, though for some ‘non-committal’, Paris Declaration. (full text).

Links:

Eldis on aid effectiveness;

Accra High Level Forum.

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