Kigali, Rwanda, 1 May 2008 – Some 200 delegates from over 40 African states ended a two-day workshop to review implementation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness on Wednesday.
The 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness committed donors and partner countries to substantial changes to improve the effectiveness of aid to ensure that it achieves a greater impact on development.
Donors and their global partners, including those in Africa, agreed that success in this direction would depend, among issues, on greater mutual accountability in the management of aid.
The Kigali workshop, hosted by the African Development Bank and the governments of Rwanda and Ghana, was designed to ensure consultation and to prepare an African position on the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, a global event to be held in Accra Ghana from 2 - 4 September. The Forum will discuss global progress on the Paris Declaration.
The Accra Forum will produce the Accra Agenda for Action, a document to be signed by Ministers and other leading officials from various countries.
In the workshop’s final statement, the delegates noted the growing complexity of the aid environment and that Africa would need to make the right adjustments to ensure more effective use of aid to the continent.
They called on donors to better align their activities with the priorities of African states. This should not only be in the design of donor strategies, but also their implementation.
They said periodic frustration with some donor practices should not be allowed to spin out of control.
"A certain amount of frustration isn’t all bad," the statement said. "Our different approaches stem from different mandates, different legal frameworks, different histories, and different roles."
They added: "Despite these differences we are all united in pursuit of a single goal—using development resources as effectively as possible to make a difference in people’s lives."
They acknowledged the importance of aid to Africa and that there had been considerable progress in bringing the two sides closer.
"Even five years ago, we could barely think of having some of the conversations that have taken place here in Kigali. We hasten to point out, however, that on both sides—partner countries as well as donors—still have quite a way to go. That’s why the development community will be meeting in Accra in a few months to review where we’ve been and to lay an even stronger foundation for making greater progress as we meet the evolving challenges of development," the statement said.
But greater ownership would require countries to exercise leadership, develop visions and agendas that are shared by a wide range of stakeholders, and define clear aid management policies.
While donors have expressed concerns about the perceived weaknesses of country systems, workshop participants pointed out that the use of country systems was itself a way of strengthening them.
On managing for development results, the workshop participants said there had been progress over the past few years and that more countries are linking their budgets to expected results.
Good examples in mutual accountability between donors and countries had also been recorded. These had been underpinned by the use of independent monitoring groups.
Growth in the roles of communities of practice had allowed practitioners to exchange information and help build capacity. An important area in which capacity still had to be built was statistics systems, for both donors and countries, on which managing and monitoring could be based.
To address the particular challenges of fragile states and areas affected by conflict, the workshop urged the development community to give greater attention to the causes of conflict and ways to prevent it. They also called for efforts to develop appropriate instruments for providing assistance to fragile states, and to close the gaps between humanitarian and development aid.
The workshop also heard a call for attention to establish peace, stability, and social cohesion so that aid can be effective in these difficult environments.
Traditional donors were urged to take note of the speed with which new donors can provide funding. Workshop participants said, however, in keeping with the principle of ownership, the new global funds also needed to be aligned with country priorities and systems. They said long-term commitments are needed to ensure the sustainability of the programs supported by these funds.
A number of recurring themes emerged in all discussions, including considerations of gender equality and the empowerment of women in all policies and in the Accra Agenda for Action. The fundamental importance of building appropriate capacity, among both donors and partner countries, was another recurring theme.
The increasingly important roles of parliaments in the development enterprise and the growing contribution of civil society in development work, especially in strengthening government’s accountability to its stakeholders, was also emphasized. Workshop participants, however, recalled that it was important for civil society to remain transparent and accountable. There were also calls for increased South-South cooperation.
"One area that raised many concerns was conditionality," the statement said. "We heard a call to move toward mutually agreed objectives and targets instead of conditionality."
The delegates to the Kigali meeting were drawn from African governments and parliaments as well as civil society organizations. Co-sponsors, including World Bank, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Development Programme and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) also participated.
The AfDB delegation was led by Philibert Afrika, the Bank’s Director of Operations and Policy.