International Development Committee Announcement

NEW PUBLICATION: WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE AID MORE EFFECTIVE

BETTER AID, NOT JUST MORE AID, NEEDED TO END POVERTY - SAYS COMMONS INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE.

If the millions of people still living on less than $1 a day are to be lifted out of poverty the UK and other donors will need to provide more effective aid-not simply larger amounts of aid-says the Commons International Development Committee in its Report, published today, Working Together to Make Aid More Effective.

Efforts to make aid more effective depend on credible evidence linking particular actions with improvements in the lives of poor people in developing countries. The Committee found that large pieces of this evidential base were missing. The Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, said:

“The UK’s Department for International Development must ensure that it has done the research to prove to us and, more importantly, the taxpayer that its approach delivers more effective aid which has a real impact on improving the lives of poor people in developing countries. Without this research, DFID is operating on well-intentioned guesswork.”

Making aid more effective requires DFID to work closely with other donors and with developing countries. But, the Chairman warned that such cooperation cannot simply be on DFID’s own terms:

“Working with others to make aid more effective is critical and it requires a certain flexibility of approach-give and take. DFID has so far found this difficult to achieve. It needs to reassess this and to give greater priority to effective coordination with donors and developing countries, rather than being ‘pushy’ and promoting its own way of working.”

Credible monitoring and evaluation of development impact is needed to show objectively that aid can make a difference. The Committee recommends that DFID should actively support  monitoring and evaluation initiatives which are independent and which are led by recipient countries.rather than just by other donors.    

The Accra High Level Forum in September will review progress against  objectives on making aid more effective agreed in the 2005 Paris Declaration. The Committee finds that progress so far has been patchy globally, although the UK has performed well against most of the targets. The Committee says  that DFID should aim to make progress at the Forum in two key areas: the division of labour among donors; and developing country ownership of the development process. The Committee concluded that the definition of ownership is often too narrowly defined as government ownership. The Chairman said:

“DFID’s view of developing country leadership and ownership of the development process can too narrowly confine this to a few individuals in government rather than the whole country. It must consistently define ownership as a democratic process which fully involves parliaments, civil society and citizens. ”

The Committee says that the Accra High Level Forum should lead to more effective mechanisms to monitor progress against a greater range of targets linked to ownership.

The Committee saw during a visit to Ghana in March 2008 how DFID is working to align its programme around Ghanaian government priorities and how it is working jointly with other donors to do this. Indeed in some cases DFID is working through other donors-a practice that is likely to become a more frequent occurrence. The Committee’s Report notes that this new way of working has implications for the parliamentary scrutiny of DFID expenditure performed by the Committee. The Committee recommends that DFID must work proactively to ensure that Parliament has meaningful oversight of all of its work, however the budget is spent. 

The Committee examined the changing nature of the donor ‘club’. It found that the principles behind aid effectiveness are as applicable to new donors, such as China, India and Brazil, as to other donors. The Committee says that DFID must seek opportunities to share with new donors its own experience of working towards more effective aid but also to support efforts by developing countries to engage in a dialogue with new donors  on aid effectiveness as equal partners.   

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee Membership is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Stephen Crabb MP (Con), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Jim Sheridan MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Sir Robert Smith MP (Lib Dem).

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, 020 7219 1589, or [email protected]

Committee website: www.parliament.uk/indcom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474)