[Viewpoint] New way forward on aid

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[Viewpoint] New way forward on aid

Aid donors must agree to a new standard in aid delivery, becoming much more transparent and focused on delivering results from effective programs. This is the message I will be driving in Busan this week.

Without international agreement, potentially billions of dollars of international aid from other donors could be targeted toward programs that are poorly managed - with little evidence of whether they are achieving their goals.

Britain will demand that nations set a higher standard in their monitoring and reporting quality of their aid projects, ending the culture of throwing money at a problem and only asking questions after.

The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan is the chance to improve the way aid is delivered, strengthening transparency, focusing more on what results can be achieved and improving the way that donors work in fragile or conflict-ridden states.

It is also an opportunity for rich country donors to start to work more closely with donors from emerging economies, such as China and Mexico, to share lessons and learn from each other’s experiences.

Meeting our aid commitments alone will not deliver the results we expect. Increased aid spending must be matched with increased transparency and a more consistent focus on aid projects that deliver clear results for the poorest, especially for new and emerging donors.

Busan can set the way we give aid for years to come, helping to direct billions of dollars in assistance to the poorest. Britain will urge world leaders of rich and poor nations to agree to four basic improvements:

Aid based on results. Aid donors must agree to establish new “results frameworks” between donors and partner countries to monitor how well aid projects are performing.

As well as helping to monitor the effectiveness of aid programs, a series of agreements between rich and poor nations will help to make poor countries play a greater role in their own development.

In addition, a “global learning platform” will help share evidence of successful projects between aid donors, ensuring that successful projects are replicated.

Greater transparency. Aid programs must be designed on the basis of clear evidence, not guesswork. Donors must agree to common standards for transparency, with all nations signed up to the International Aid Transparency Initiative and other standards set up to measure the impact of aid. This will help donors track where and how aid money is spent.

Britain was the first country in the world to publish data in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative standards, and we are actively urging others to do the same.

Britain has led the way in making our aid much more transparent, publishing all spending data over 500 euros ($675) and establishing a new independent watchdog to shine light on our work so that taxpayers can see exactly how and where aid money is being spent.

Fragile states. Donors and partner governments must agree on a New Deal for fragile and conflict-ridden states. They must sign up to better ways of working, which are more tailored to the challenges of working in these countries. They must agree to:

-Prioritize five peace-building measures, including security, justice, jobs and services for all citizens and legitimate politics.

-Work with partner countries to lead their own sound development.

-Use all resources more efficiently. Be more transparent about the use of aid going to those countries.

Cooperation with new aid donors. Emerging powers like China, Brazil, Mexico and Russia are becoming increasingly influential aid donors, giving billions in foreign aid every year.

Rich nations must collaborate with emerging powers to deliver joint aid projects in the developing world. Sharing expertise and experience to ensure that aid is well targeted at helping the poorest, has a proven ability to deliver results and is focused on areas where it is needed most, such as fragile and conflict-ridden states.

It is important that donor countries stick to their commitments on aid. That is why the United Kingdom has pledged to spend 0.7 percent of its gross national income on aid. But we must also ensure that this money is properly spent, with a focus on results and saving lives. That is why Busan is so vital to the future of aid.

*The writer is the secretary of state for international development in the United Kingdom.


By Andrew Mitchell
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