Category Archives: International Aid

Pakistan: Whatever happened to Kerry-Lugar?

Raza Rumi published by Express-Tribune

Pakistan’s dire fiscal situation has resulted in the reduction of development spending by 40 per cent. This does not bode well for the citizens who have been tormented by an energy crisis, persistent food inflation and rampant unemployment. In these circumstances, the development assistance under the Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB) is much needed. Pakistan’s civilian government braved a media onslaught and the ire of the security establishment for tacitly supporting the US legislation. Other than the rhetoric around the ‘conditions’ drafted in Washington, there was an unstated agreement that the development assistance was welcome. It was expected that given the urgency of the situation, USAID was going to kick start the delivery of its interventions. Well, the progress so far has been disappointing.

First, there seems to be no public sign of a consensus within the US bureaucratic machine on how the aid under KLB will be delivered. Unconfirmed media reports suggest that the political versus the bureaucratic channels are not on the same page. The ‘political’ administration is ostensibly managing USAID systems and processes. There may be strategic reasons for that but the net result is that things are delayed. Not long ago, the Pakistani government’s procedures were thought to be a problem, but the trajectory of US bureaucracy only proves that public sector ailments are common. Second, USAID is unfamiliar with the methods of working with the governments. In fact, its operations keep the government systems out of the programme design and create parallel structures for big US firms for accountability and results. On the ‘results’ front the experience of USAID has not been flattering to say the least. The case of irregularities in the ongoing Fata programme, highlighted by the media in recent months, is a case in point. Third, there is no clear roadmap for the key priorities that KLB will help address. We read about the energy sector support and other immediate responses to Pakistani government’s needs. But surely, the sizeable pipeline of $7.5 billion needs to be well planned. Needs identification and programme design should be responsive as well as flexible. Bureaucracies are averse to out-of-the-box thinking, and perhaps this is what explains lack of alternatives to lengthy, US firms-centric approach typically employed by USAID. Continue reading

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Public millions fail to provide wells, schools and clinics in Afghanistan

Courtesy Timesonline

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Children queue for water in Kabul, but many aid projects are failing to reach their targets

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Millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money have been wasted on failed reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, according to an internal assessment by the Department for International Development. Continue reading

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Development: Can NGOs deliver development?

—Syed Mohammad Ali

Engaging in a debate about the role of NGOs should not be confined to questioning their credibility, but also their ability to deliver services efficiently and in a sustained manner

A landmark Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness was put forth in 2005 which acknowledged that international development aid needs to respect the priorities of recipient countries and that donor organisations must begin to coordinate their activities with one another. In development terms, this understanding implied the need for donor alignment to improve the harmonisation of aid.

Three years have passed since this declaration was signed, yet the overall ineffectiveness of development assistance continues to evoke much criticism. International non-governmental organisations perhaps remain the harshest critics of aid effectiveness. But what about the effectiveness of these NGOs in utilising aid for development purposes themselves? Continue reading

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Self-financing development

By Stephany Griffith-Jones, Jose Antonio Ocampo and Pietro Calice

NEW YORK: A remarkable feature of the international financial system in the last decade has been the rapid and vast accumulation of foreign exchange reserves by developing countries. World foreign reserves tripled from $2.1 trillion in December 2001 to an unprecedented $6.5 trillion in early 2008, according to IMF data.

Developing countries as a whole accounted for more than 80 percent of global reserve accumulation during this period, and their current level of reserves approaches $5 trillion. Half of this volume is concentrated in developing Asia, but Latin America and Africa have also been amassing international assets at a remarkable pace. This pool of reserves surpasses developing countries’ immediate liquidity needs, leading to their increased creation and expansion of sovereign wealth funds, which have an additional level of assets of more than $3 trillion. Continue reading

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Pakistan: IMF Programme needs to be debated

Raza Rumi’s oped published in the NEWS (Pakistan)

The not-so-inevitable is about to happen. After weeks of groping in the darkness of global financial mess, the Pakistani government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund. Admittedly, Pakistan’s options are limited, given its intractable dependence on oil imports for survival. The civilian government moving from one crisis to another has elevated indecision to a policy status. This does not imply that we start echoing the unwise cacophony of impatience with an elected and far more legitimate government than the eight-year-long authoritarian regime. But then who cares: if recent history is a guide, PPP governments come with a brand or at least get branded as incompetent comprising coteries of cronies, as if the rest of the country is a fair, rule-based haven.

The plain truth is that the power-wielders of Pakistan have been following a set of disastrous policies for decades that have now put the survival of the state, or as we knew it, in question. From the great hunts for strategic depth and Jihad, and from nurturing domestic oligarchies and pampering a delinquent industrial sector at the expense of land tillers and equitable irrigation, we are now paying the price for policy making by the elites for the sustenance of the elites. Continue reading

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Country Ownership Is Critical for Aid Effectiveness

Washington , D.C., August 29, 2008— As food shortages and fuel price shocks have swelled the ranks of the poor by 100 million – 30 million in Africa alone, the international community is meeting in Accra to find a way to unlock the full potential of development assistance.

The Accra High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, taking place September 2-4 in Ghana, will assess the progress made since the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness was adopted in 2005. The Paris Declaration redefined the development process as a partnership in which countries take the lead in their own development, and donors support the process through capacity development, improved coordination at the country level, and more predictable aid flows.

Country Ownership Is Critical for Aid Effectiveness

The five key principles of aid effectiveness articulated in the Paris Declaration – ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, and mutual accountability – captured the essence of both donor and partner country frustrations with the way aid was being managed. Countries wanted more say in how aid is used, while donors, mindful of the expectations of their citizens and shareholders, wanted countries to develop results-based, monitorable systems for managing aid flows, and to address issues of corruption. Continue reading

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Aiding awareness

Source here

Diana Dalton, Head of Building Support for Development at DFID, assesses how the funding of awareness projects ultimately supports the Millennium Development Goals.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is just over 10 years old. Formerly the Overseas Development Administration and part of the Foreign Office, its emergence as an independent government department in 1997 demonstrated the UK’s commitment to take the reduction of global poverty seriously and fulfil its international commitments.

A White Paper, ‘Eliminating Poverty, A Challenge for the 21st Century’ was promptly issued, setting out the priorities for action for the new department. In it, a commitment was made that DFID would increase public understanding of global mutual dependence and the need for international development. Continue reading

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