MDGS: Aid Quality
The issue of delivering high-quality and more effective aid is as important as aid volume. Too much bilateral aid has been driven by strategic geo-political objectives to countries that do not need external concessional assistance to reach the goals.
Moreover, aid is often provided in ways that benefit the donors' exporters and visibility and do not contribute to reducing poverty. Thus, it is no surprise that public opinion is sceptical of aid effectiveness.
In many northern European countries, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been helpful for governments to link aid flows to achievement of the goals, strengthening the pro-aid constituency by changing the image of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from giveaways that support corrupt regimes to concrete programmes that can reduce child mortality or provide primary education.
To increase aid effectiveness, donors should target poor countries, encourage increased ownership, improve donor coordination, untie aid and make MDGs the organizing focus of all aid.
Pope Paul VI wrote in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio: “Nations are the architects of their own development, and they must bear the burden of this work; but they cannot accomplish it if they live in isolation from others. Regional mutual aid agreements among the poorer nations, broader based programmes of support for these nations, major alliances between nations to coordinate these activities - these are the road signs that point the way to national development and world peace.”
The volume of aid is not the same as the “volume of development”, measured in decreases in infant mortality, numbers of children attending school and reductions in the numbers of people who do not have enough to eat.
The assumption underlying these commitments is that aid can make a real difference to the lives of the poor and is an essential component in any strategy to achieve the MDGs. Increased aid is essential especially for those MDGs relating to education and health which require increased investment in buildings, equipment and in the teachers and medical staff who will work in them.
The predictability of aid is as important as the volume of aid. Upgrading of both health and education systems is a long term undertaking – the training of new staff takes several years. Finance ministers are understandably reluctant to embark on major new initiatives of this nature unless they can be assured that funds will be available over a period of several years. They are aware, however, that rich countries’ aid budgets are very volatile and, if past performance is anything to go by, cannot be relied upon to deliver consistent resources over a number of years.
RESOURCESAnnual Report 2010Strategic framework 2011-2015How Caritas works: Economic JusticeCSO development effectivenessEconomic justice on Caritas Blog