Aid: what do the numbers tell us?

 

 

Last week The Guardian run a story on aid transparency following the latest report from Aid Transpareny  Index Publish What You Fund

Here are resuts

 

DONOR SCORE
1. U.S., MCC VERY GOOD
2. GAVI VERY GOOD
3. UK, DFID VERY GOOD
4. UNDP VERY GOOD
5. World Bank, IDA GOOD
6. Global Fund GOOD
7. AfDB GOOD
8. Canada, CIDA GOOD
9. Sweden, Sida GOOD
10. AsDB FAIR
11. IADB FAIR
12. EC, ECHO FAIR
13. EC, DEVCO FAIR
14. EC, FPI FAIR
15. Denmark, MFA FAIR
16. Netherlands, MFA FAIR
17. EC, ELARG FAIR
18. New Zealand, MFAT FAIR
19. U.S., Treasury FAIR
20. Germany, BMZ-GIZ FAIR
21. UNICEF FAIR
22. U.S., USAID FAIR
23. Germany, BMZ-KfW FAIR
24. Australia, AusAID FAIR
25. UN OCHA FAIR
26. UK, FCO POOR
27. U.S., Defense POOR
28. IMF POOR
29. World Bank, IFC POOR
30. Korea, KOICA POOR
31. Norway, MFA POOR
32. Ireland, Irish Aid POOR
33. EIB POOR
34. EBRD POOR
35. Czech Republic, CzDA POOR
36. Estonia, MFA POOR
37. Japan, JICA POOR
38. Belgium, DGCD POOR
39. Finland, MFA POOR
40. U.S., State POOR
41. Austria, ADA POOR
42. Luxembourg, MFA VERY POOR
43. Gates Foundation VERY POOR
44. Switzerland, SDC VERY POOR
45. Latvia, MFA VERY POOR
46. Portugal, CICL VERY POOR
47. Spain, MAEC-AECID VERY POOR
48. Japan, MOFA VERY POOR
49. France, AFD VERY POOR
50. U.S., PEPFAR VERY POOR
51. Romania, MFA VERY POOR
52. France, MAE VERY POOR
53. France, MINEFI VERY POOR
54. UK, MOD VERY POOR
55. Slovakia, SAIDC VERY POOR
56. Brazil, ABC VERY POOR
57. Poland, MFA VERY POOR
58. Slovenia, MFA VERY POOR
59. Germany, AA VERY POOR
60. Italy, MAE VERY POOR
61. Lithuania, MFA VERY POOR
62. Cyprus, CyprusAid VERY POOR
63. Bulgaria, MFA VERY POOR
64. Hungary, MFA VERY POOR
65. Malta, MFA VERY POOR
66. Greece, HellenicAid VERY POOR
67. China, MOFCOM VERY POOR

 

As the table above shows donors are rated Very Good o Very Poor according to how transparent they are. In some respects there are no surprises for me with respect to some of the countries that scored very poorly. For instance China does not need an explanation, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Latvia are in my opinion new kids on bloc with respect to development and until recently were aid recipients themselves and as such have a lot to learn in this area.

 

What surprises me is that aspects of  France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Luxembourg aid regimes are judged amongst the very poor. These countries  are in my opinion the founding fathers of development aid and have had at least 50 years behind them in international development.  They should be the pillars of Good Practice  with respect to  international development

 

The performance of Nordic countries is worth noting here too,  apart from Sweden the rest do not make into either the Very Good nor the Good categories and yet according to the Development Assistance  Committee (DAC)  there were amongst the five countries that met the UN aid target of 0.7% in 2011; the Netherlands at 0.75%, Denmark at 0.85%, Luxembourg at 0.97%, Norway at 1.00% and Sweden at 1.02%, the largest economy in the world, the United States of America (US), only achieved 0.20% of GNI in 2011, the same as Italy whilst the large economies of Europe, the UK gave 0.56%, France 0.46% and German 0.39% (OECD statistics 2011).

 

 

DAC Members’ Net Official Development Assistance in 2011

2011

ODA

ODA/GNI

USD million

%

Current

Korea

1 328

0.12

Greece

 425

0.15

Japan

10 831

0.18

Italy

4 326

0.20

United States

30 924

0.20

Austria

1 111

0.27

New Zealand

 424

0.28

Spain

4 173

0.29

Portugal

 708

0.31

Canada

5 457

0.32

Australia

4 983

0.34

Germany

14 093

0.39

Switzerland

3 076

0.45

France

12 997

0.46

Ireland

 914

0.51

Finland

1 406

0.53

Belgium

2 807

0.54

United Kingdom

13 832

0.56

Netherlands

6 344

0.75

Denmark

2 931

0.85

Luxembourg

 409

0.97

Norway

4 934

1.00

Sweden

5 603

1.02

TOTAL DAC

134 038

0.31

Source: OECD Statistics 2011: Table 1 DAC Members’ Net Official Development Assistance in 2011

A question arises as to what these countries are hiding.

One of the reasons for this lack of transparence,  in my opinion is  to do with donor interests and motives for giving aid  as well as an issue raised by  the NGO ActionAid UK amongst others that not all aid that is donated is true aid.

ActionAid has argued that most of the aid that is provided is not “actual aid” due in part to the way it is structured, aid includes debt relief, technical assistance amongst other things.

In addition some donors ‘tie’ their aid, which reduces the amount of aid that is available to recipient countries. In practice this means that aid is given on condition that it is used to buy services and goods from the donor country. The effect of this is that the true beneficiaries of such aid are companies and organisation in donor countries.

For these reasons it is to see why some donor would perform poorly with respect to transparency and leads me to another question.

How can corruption be stamped out if donors are not open about what they fund?

 

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What is Aid to Bongo Bongo land for?

Whilst foreign aid to African countries has been praised for lowering poverty levels in Africa, experts, think tanks, non government organisations (NGOs) and even citizens of both donor and recipient countries have also criticised it for creating dependency, preventing growth and promoting the interests of donor countries over the needs of recipient countries.

But last week Godfrey Bloom a Member of the European Parliament from the UK Independent Party (UKIP) raised  the criticism bar by criticising the UK government for sending aid to what he called “Bongo Bongo land”

This was unfortunate. For instead of  we the publics being engaged on the important questions about aid such as, what is aid for and how effective it is, we became embroiled in debates about racism.

What became apparent to me as I read the comments and listened to reactions about Bloom’s outburst was that some amongst the general public do not understand the motives of aid donors. We do need to ask the question

Why do donors give aid?

The motives of aid donors are many and varied  and may  include

 

a) Poverty reduction: some donors such as the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK and international non government organisations (INGOs) such as the Word Bank and NGOs believe that rich countries have a moral obligation use their resources to fight poverty in poor countries to ensure that citizens of these countries can access social services (Pomerantz 2004:4)

b) Historical and colonial ties: France and the UK in particular are charged with Neo-Colonial motives with respect to their reasons for providing aid to former colonies. The charge here is that the provision of aid enables donor countries to exercise political and economic influence in those countries. This influence ensures that the former colonial master continues to access raw materials for its industries from its former colony in exchange for aid (Mayall 2005:307).

c) International Relations: Scholars like Radelet (2006), Wood (1996), Hook (1996) and Moyo (2009) have argued that aid is the means by which donor countries conduct relations with other nations, in other words aid is used a bargaining tool in foreign policy, or as Baldwin (1996:3 cited in Hook 1996) puts it: “foreign aid is a means by which one country gets another to act in desired ways’’ For countries like Japan, USA and Canada for instance aid is a means for their multinational companies to gain access to international markets as well as protecting the interests of those companies in aid recipient countries

d) Security: increasingly donors such as the European Union and the USA are tying aid to security concerns and this tend to be in the form of technical training. The reasoning here is that if these problems are not resolved those countries will become unstable and lead to migrants on our door step.

e) humanitarian reasons:aid is given to countries to mitigate the effects of civil conflicts, the impact of natural disasters such as Tsunamis and chronic food shortages due to climate change etc. (Pomerantz 2004:4)

So as you can see there is a confluence of reasons why donors give aid. What puzzles me is how little we the publics know about our governments motives for giving aid.  Is it a matter of lack of transparency on the part of our government?

A related point has to do with where does aid actually go?  If you are interested in this question I would recommend that you read this report from ActionAid as the argue that very little of what donors count as aid is given as cash. Some aid is used to write of debt, provide technical assistance and indeed create jobs here in the UK, as  DFID boss Justine Greening explains in this BBC interview.

 

Have you got a view? Lets talk about!

 

 

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#Post2015: Let them have good jobs

 

The Millennium Development Goals are coming to end in 2015 and questions have began about what should replace them.  I have attended a few such discussion panels and will be dipping in out and out the emerging themes from those panel discussions.

 

One such themes concerns jobs. In particular that the Post 2015 agenda should focus on the creation of good jobs. This gives rise to a few questions

  1. What does a “good  job” look like?
  2. Who is responsible for creating such a job?

The first question gives rise to another question that is to do with measuring and evaluation. Who will determine the quality of jobs that are created? Is this the job of Business, Governments, NGOs or individuals themselves?

These are questions for us to ponder  as the 2015 deadline approaches.

In this post I am concerned with a phenomena that if left unchecked will be the biggest challenge for us beyond 2015.

Rural to Urban Migration

I admit that I have not done any research in this area and therefore my knowledge is limited to observation of what is going on in Ruhanga and other such villages in Uganda.

Typically such villages  have no factories or formal employment and folk leave off the land. The men tend to leave as soon as they can, in  search of work in towns and cities. But this option, is not often available to women and girls who are expected to remain and work the land.

 

In some cases women do make it into the cities and the situation there with respect to accessing jobs isn’t any better for them.  This is a confluence of reasons for this, but the most common one has to do with a lack of formal education, precisely that these women often do not have the level of education that would for instance enable them to access an office job.

The consequences of such circumstances unfolded before our very eyes in a Bangladeshi clothing factory a few weeks ago .

A cab driver in Uganda summed up the situation for women and girls in Uganda as follows

Without a job or home to go to, the girls end up in the slums of Kampala, where they become easy pickings for would be people traffickers, who sell them on to prostitution rings, those that are lucky might get a job as someone’s house maid. This guarantees shelter and food but not necessarily fair wages nor fair treatment. These are the sort of girls that used by gangs to steal from foreigners in restaurants, bars and clubs. to be frank with you, they have become a nuisance

 

With women and girls facing such circumstances, the UK’s Labour Party has called on government’s to rethink the Post 2015 . Ivan Lewis the Shadow Development Secretary for Labour for instance argues that it is not enough to simply focus on what the goals should be  and urges governments, experts, academics and NGOs to focus on Equality and to that end Labour has come up with what they are calling the Equality 2030 agenda.

But what does equality mean? Is there a universal description that is understood by all? Although this is desired, evidence points to an increasingly dived and unequal society in which the disparity between the haves and have nots is huge and growing by day giving rise to rural to urban migration witnessed in countries such as Uganda.

With all this mind, therefore where do we go from here?

Have you got a view? Join the conversation

 

 

 

 

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