Aid Fragmentation or How Aid is Waylaid

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 3/12/2009 06:04:00 AM
Aid fragmentation refers to the diminution of aid effectiveness due to a proliferation of incoherent instrumentalities. On the donor side, you get less bang for the buck when you funnel aid through different aid hierarchies which themselves consume money in the process of disbursement. On the recipient side, paperwork becomes onerous as aid agencies often require detailed documentation of where aid is needed, where aid is used, etc. Hence, what effectively occurs is that aid is diluted twice by bureaucratic apparatus (i.e., "red tape") on both sides of the coin. Mindful of this, OECD countries signed the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness to streamline processes by which aid is disbursed in 2005.

Unfortunately, the most recent 2009 report from the OECD suggests that instead of reducing aid fragmentation after the signing of the Paris Declaration, aid disbursement has become even more fragmented. Those interested in development can download a PDF copy of the summary from the OECD website. Meanwhile, here is a scathing appraisal of the findings from the (left-leaning) IPS:
Civil society representatives agree with the recent finding of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that fragmentation of international cooperation has increased instead of diminished, in direct contradiction to the so-called Paris Declaration where over 100 countries called for effective dispensing of aid.

In its Development Co-operation Report (DCR) for 2009, released on Feb 19, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) concludes that the ever-growing number of donors and aid agencies and mechanisms across the world is making ‘‘aid increasingly fragmented and reducing its effectiveness’’.

As a result, the DCR 2009 says, ‘‘the international development effort now adds up to less than the sum of its parts’’. The DAC, a forum for major bilateral aid donors, is the principal body through which the OECD deals with issues related to cooperation with developing countries. The forum releases a DCR once a year.

The DCR defines fragmentation of international development cooperation as aid ‘‘that comes in too many small slices from too many donors, creating high transaction costs and making it difficult for partner countries to effectively manage their own development’’.

African countries with between 24 and 30 active donors are the following: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Lesotho and South Africa. Countries where between 15 and 23 donors account for less than 10 percent of the country’s aid are: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the DRC, Cameroon, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal.

In an interview with IPS, Barbara Unmuessig, a member of the directorate at Germany’s Heinrich Boell Foundation and former counsellor at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development, concurred with the DCR findings. The Heinrich Boell Foundation, which is affiliated with Germany’s Green Party, describes itself as an ‘‘(environmental) think tank and an international policy network’’ which main tenets are ‘‘ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, self-determination and justice’’.

According to Unmuessig, ‘‘during the last two years alone, more than 14 new bilateral and multilateral international mechanisms for the financing of environmental development policy have been created, making coherence and complementarity of international cooperation even more difficult.’’

Unmuessig complained that practically every single international organisation participating in development cooperation creates ever new instruments. ‘‘For developing countries, it is extremely difficult to cope with this endless flow of new agencies and mechanisms,’’ she added. ‘‘This growing fragmentation of aid demands more competent personnel and institutions in developing countries, represents an insurmountable challenge, and erodes the effectiveness of cooperation,’’ Unmuessig claimed.

Fragmentation of aid compels government officials, doctors, teachers and aid workers in developing countries to spend much of their time filling in reports or being bogged down in meetings with donor governments and agencies or accompanying monitoring missions. Aid fragmentation can also create overlap and wasted effort among donors, with some working in sectors where they have less expertise...

Four years on, not only the OECD finds that aid has become more fragmented, and thus less effective but the DAC plainly says that the world is not on course to meet the 2010 targets of the Paris Declaration.
Not encouraging stuff.