Development Cooperation Handbook/Issues/Does international aid really benefits the target populations?

Issue 6
Does international aid really benefits the target populations?

Episode 2 - MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

playlist on YouTube

Defining Aid

Article on Wikipedia ⇒ Aid
Article on Global issues ⇒ Aid
Spiegel interview ⇒ "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"

Aid effectiveness is more a concern at macro level: policies, international agreements, or even with the effectiveness of aid altogether Impact Assessment is more concerned at micro level with the results of specific actions.



The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005 helped build a broad consensus among the international community on how to make aid more effective. At its heart is the commitment to help developing-country governments formulate and implement their own national development plans, according to their national priorities, using, wherever possible, their own planning and implementation systems.

However the debate on aid effectiveness remains sharp. Some argue a lot of government-to-government aid is ineffective because it was merely a way to support strategically important leaders. Another major point of criticism has been that western countries often project their own needs and solutions onto other societies and cultures.

The very notion of "aid" is sometimes being put into question. It is argued that the "aid" approach is based on a "up-down" human relation mode, between the "up-donor" and the "down-recipient", that is not really conducive to the establishment of a cooperative work environment. So the term "development cooperation" is preferred often because it reveals a equal-partner approach which is conducive to a more efficacious and more gratifying form of cooperation.

The adoption of a more politically correct terminology however does not really reveal a change in the relationship mode. It is through a constant ongoing effort of monitoring and evaluation that results are known and lessons learned can be share. Here is where International agencies are asking for closer partnership with civil society and media, so that the public is better informed of the challenges and the achievements of international cooperation for development. This is not easy, as media tend to give more coverage to the episodes of multifunction than to the success stories of intercultural dialogue and international cooperation.



We asked different stakeholders to share their experiences about development cooperation effectiveness. We also want to compare the aptitudes of the peoples of different nations in assuming responsibility for global development and inter-cultural dialogue.

Below are the answers we collected. The work is in progress and you are welcomed to contribute.
Click on the name of the contributor to go to the page with the full interview.

There has been a lot of discussions over the last 5-7 decades about aid - D.Smadja

There has been a lot of discussions over the last 5-7 decades about aid.

The most important element is to do what the government of the country we are engaged in wants to do and has decided to do. We cannot impose policies, we have to support the national policies of the country and respect the obligations of the donor country. This doesn't mean that whatever they do we sign the cheque.

Every country has to take charge of the development of their country. The effectiveness of aid then comes from the capacity of the donor country to contribute to the national policies and strategies and to make sure that whatever we are contributing to has a chance of success. Then only we can bring an added value by filling the financial gap (even if on a small scale), bring expertise, experience and policies we use in Europe.

You are with the WHAT and I'm with the HOW... and until you don't know WHAT there is no way I can help you on HOW to do it.

What is your opinion on aid coming from an other culture and an other country

There is now quite a degree of understanding that aid should not come with too many conditions - Zulfi Haider

Given the kind of disparity that exists in the world, the rise in consciousness globally and if we recognize that humanity is one... it is not really a choice to respond to a situation which is not acceptable to us. Owing up to this responsibility has to be a case, it is not the case of making a choice. Yes, there is a need of aid and the mechanism of international aid has its place in the world.

The challenge with international aid is accepting a plural world, where we accept that others may have a different take on what is desirable and what is development for them. Or are we going to continue to say that development is catching up with the West and making them like 'Us'.

This is not only a western problem it is a problem all over the world. Even in India, every group thinks that their way is the right way and somebody else' way is the distorted way. And is the worst situation it is not just different, it becomes the wrong way.

There is now quite a degree of understanding that aid should not come with too much riders. But I would not say that this has stopped, the prevalent practice continues top be the same.

How to implement efficiently development programmes

Delivering results is much more complex than designing Government schemes - social participation is required - M.S.Ahluwalia
In a democracy we need a participated approach to development - M.S.Ahluwalia

No scheme is perfect, it is impossible to have a scheme which has zero leakage. When you say that they don't reach at the bottom do you mean that the leakage is 100... absolutely not! Leakage are high, even as high as 30%, but 70% is reaching at people. The other reason people think that the schemes are not having the effect that the effect that were expected, is that the challenges are very complex one... you can have very good schemes but you don't deliver the result. (Gives example of education) and says that Pratham brings out a report every year and saw that 37% percent of children in class 5 cannot read a text for class 2. Now if you say that therefore the benefits are not reaching the target population, in a sense you are right. But what can the government do? It sets up schools, it higher teachers... we say that you need to have more parent-teacher involvement, you must have local communities enforcing accountability, teachers must be made to teach. These are things that are not just done by governments, these are things done by social pressure, social awareness, social mobilization and it would not surprise me that it takes time. It is not true that nothing is happening, lots is happening!

Difficulties in achieving Human Developments Goals in a Democracy. You must not think of setting right defects as a mechanical task. Many of the human development goals can be achieved top down in an Autocracy, because you can just enforce things. In a democracy you cannot do that. The other way you do that is social mobilization and social pressure. That requires participation, empowerment, capacity building and social homogeneity.

EU commitments for development assistance effectiveness

EU Transparency, accountability end effectiveness of EU funded projects
Catherine Ray - How EU ensures that the money spent for aid is well spent

Focusing EU Development area on fewer areas with potential higher impact

Julian Parr, the Regional Manager South East Asia, Oxfam GB

There is need to work simultaneously with law and education - otherwise there will be no impact of either - Julian Parr

The rational of having long term investment perspectives so that economic propsperity is sustained - Pachauri

Asking for a major role of corporate social responsibility in the evaluation processes - S.Kumar

We need to talk of the outputs of cooperation (and not just of the money spent in it - Nirj Deva

My Opinion on International Cooperation - Vandana Shiva

Cooperation, if it’s cooperation, is a good way. Normally cooperation is used as a name for process of exploitation. Cooperation must be between equals – equal dignity, equal respect, equal partnership; then the planning of what will be cooperation is made by both sides, and not be imposed. Secondly, in authentic cooperation, real benefits go to the poor part of the world. In exploited form, more resources than money are taken out from the poor.

Do you think it will be possible to change the relationship among partners in order to build what you call "the right cooperation"? You said, for example, that, as a matter of fact, it is the South of the world that supports the North. What did you mean?

I gave the figures. 50 billion dollars of money aid goes from the North to the South, but 500 billion dollars worth of interest payment (when you give a loan, you get an interest). So, more money is made out of the Third World and also lost incomes for the South in terms of cheap commodities. So unfact trading system will take from the South cotton, that should be selling at 22 Rupies a kilo and buy at 11 Rupies a kilo. That addition of 11 Rupies is a transfer of finance from the South to the North.

Is it possible to change this way of working together?

Yes, it is possible to change after all. I’m involved in cooperation and we only deal with partners who respect us, partners who realized that we have as much to contribute to them as they can contribute to us, except we don’t give financially, we give in terms of visions, ideas, practices. The work I have done for 21 years in Navdanya to build that kind of agriculture that produces more food, is supported by citizens cooperation, and I think it is a very good example

More videos on YouTube


 playlist on YouTube