The African Church is a major provider of health, education and other social services on the continent. Credits: Caritas

The African Church is a major provider of health, education and other social services on the continent. Credits: Caritas

Church leaders in Africa say development aid to the poorest must not just be measured in quantity but also in the extent it transforms the lives of the poor.

In a ecumenical statement released ahead of a key aid effectiveness summit in Accra, Ghana, 2 – 4 September, the AACC (All Africa Conference of Churches) and SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conference in Africa and Madagascar) say the levels of poverty in Africa are unacceptable.

With a 600 million membership, Church leaders are urging for change in the way aid money is spent. They want to see a greater decision making role on how aid is delivered given to the local communities it is supposed to help.

The African Churches and Caritas will be at the negotiating table in Accra. They will attempt to influence the aid donor and recipient government officials and international organizations.

The African Church is a major provider of health, education and other social services on the continent. In the statement, its leaders called for aid “based on participatory consultation, especially with all the stakeholders in the country where the aid is directed.”

The Church in Africa is supportive of the aims of the Accra Third High Level Forum (HLF III) on aid effectiveness and the Paris Declaration, a roadmap to improving aid effectiveness signed by one hundred Ministers, Heads of Agencies and other Senior Officials in March 2005.

However, the statement said one of the key challenges is to end the conditions that government and institutional donors put on how the money is spent: “Imposed conditionalities continue to undermine democratic ownership.”

The Church leaders quote studies that show half of all aid is tied to technical assistance and supply driven. They note the continued militarization of aid and the promotion of consumer culture at the expense of sustainable development.

“The Paris Declaration ignores sustainable development,” said the statement, calling for it to be made key pillar of the commitment on aid effectiveness.

Caritas is working with AACC, SECAM, and other faith-based networks to organize ecumenical events at the CSO parallel forum, starting with an ecumenical worship service on 31 August.

The Church statement was released following an Africa-wide consultation in Nairobi from 21 to 23 May. Download the full statement