Ten things I didn’t want to know about aid ineffectiveness

A little birdie told me about this, and I just couldn’t resist. The donors in Tanzania have got  their own little website, included on which is a page telling us “10 Facts about Aid effectiveness in Tanzania”. They call themselves the Development Partners Group (DPG for short) and this is what they have to say:

    1. Tanzania’s aid effectiveness initiatives begun even prior to the international call on aid effectiveness. The initiatives follow recommendation of the Independent Commission report by Helleiner (1994) which called for among other things a closer collaboration between the government and development partners.
    2. DPG supports the coordinated Government-led programmes to strengthen capacity development in core reforms programmes such as the Public Financial Management Reform Programme (PFMRP), Public Sector Reform Programme (PSRP), Local Government Reform Programme (LGRP), Legal Sector Reform Programme (LSRP), as well as Poverty Monitoring Master Plan and Business Environment Strengthening Programme for Tanzania. Sector programmes with capacity development components include – but are not limited to – Primary Education Development Programme, the Secondary Education Development Programme, ASDP, as well as the health and HIV/AIDS programmes.
    3. The Joint Assistance Strategy for Tanzania (JAST) is the national medium-term framework jointly developed by the government and development partners in order to enhance aid effectiveness at country level. It replaces the Tanzania Assistance Strategy (TAS), which served as medium-term framework for development cooperation between 2002/2003 and 2004/2005.
    4. JAST is approved by Cabinet and signed by 19 bilateral and multilateral agencies including: African Development Bank, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, UN, USA, and the World Bank.
    5. MKUKUTA-PER dialogue structure is the main structure for technical dialogue between the Government, Development Partners and domestic stakeholders. It integrates all major national development priorities and sector processes into a single process, whilst retaining government exclusivity on its internal dialogue.
    6. DPG endeavours to align its own structure of sectoral/thematic and sub-groups to a corresponding government-led dialogue structure, within the cluster structure of the MKUKUTA and MKUZA.
    7. Three modalities are used to deliver aid assistance to the government of Tanzania: General Budget Support (GBS), Basket Funds and the Direct Project Funds with the GBS being the most preferred mode since it is consistent with government’s legal structure and processes.
    8. The Sector-Wide Approaches (SWAps) are applied in key sectors including water, health agriculture, education HIV/AIDS and core reform programmes. Under SWAps, line ministries take a leading role in putting in place a comprehensive and operational plan and programme as well as a coordination framework allowing various stakeholders to focus on commonly agreed goals and targets.
    9. Tanzania’s mutual accountability framework particularly the Independent Monitoring Group mechanism, is one the most established mechanisms worldwide with three evaluation reports produced since 1994.
    10. Most of the working groups under the DPG are organised around a troika chairing structure, that is, there is an incoming and present and out-going chairing arrangement (act as leaders of the group), with other DPs being either active or delegating members, in accordance with the division of labour outlined in the JAST.

Ummm … so exactly how is any of  the above effecting real change that, say, a poor Tanzanian farmer would recognise? Or, to put it another way, exactly how far up their own arses are the so-called Development Partners?


10 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve seen that. It’s good, innit? Their ‘revamped’ website actually has less information available than their old one as far as we can tell on Mtaa wa Swahili. A case of “nothing to see here, move along please…” Or something.


  2. As donors are not interested in the actual results (this is micromanagement! not done) they declared, on basis of discredited WB research that a donor cartel is what can be used as a proxy for describing effectiveness. So they use indicators describing the workings of the cartel as proxy indicators for effectiveness.

    This is 1984 and doublespeak all over.


  3. […] Ten things I didn’t want to know about aid ineffectiveness – https://bottomupthinking.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/ten-things-i-didnt-want-to-know-about-aid-ineffecti… Aid blogging matters – beyond the front lines – […]


  4. I spent three years working on the fringes of the very system and structure described here. It’s as thoroughly disfunctional in practice as it sounds.

    This great Manu cartoon sums it up perfectly. It’s not even satire, just truth: http://stuffexpataidworkerslike.com/2011/04/05/toonseawl-manucartoons/


  5. Posted by molvenu on April 23, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I blame all you “do gooders”. Aid is simply about giving money and hoping to heaven some of it works. But if you actually said that very few people would support an aid program so you have to make up lots of nonsense like this so that people are confused just long enough to let real folk get on with their jobs.


  6. Posted by Finn on April 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I beg to differ and support the donor cartel. The (Paris) principles of avoiding donor duplication and following country systems are good. Still, you can see what a devilish process lies behind all this: the donors trying to get the government to work according to the latest trend (aid effectiveness), which means an arm-wrestling match where the donors aren’t supposed to acknowledge that they are arm-wrestling because arm-wrestling is fundamentally counter to the goal they are trying to wrestle towards. If you’ll excuse my ad-hoc meandering metaphor.
    It’s true that the result is the kind of gibberish posted above. I read in another blog somewhere that development can be understood as a system where it’s almost impossible to simplify anything, so any attempt at improving the system means adding another layer of complexity, in a blog post by Owen – http://www.owen.org/blog/3184

    The donors have the well-acknowledged problem of looking too much at papers and not at reality. They are reluctant to use a classical tool for engaging with real power structures – old-fashioned brandy&cigars diplomacy. It seems to be out of favour since the DPs are bureaucrats rather than oldschool diplomats. Or maybe not? I’ve heard that DfID is good at this game.
    But on the other hand the DPs recognise this problem and deal with it within their frame of reference: by commissioning a report. This is by the excellent Tim Kelsall http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/DOC97.pdf


    • Posted by MJ on May 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      I think no-one suggests that donors should not coordinate amongst themselves, just that this is a tiny part of achieving real, lasting economic development. In this gobbledegook all the donors seem to care about is not stepping on each others’ toes over the management of inputs (money) whilst ignoring the far bigger challenges in achieving meaningful outcomes. Perhaps we’ve all been misled: many people, myself included, will draw the distinction between Aid (giving something) and Development (in an economic sense), and yet I at least have merrily assumed that Aid Effectiveness was all about Development Effectiveness, when in reality it only ever was about the giving bit. Is this some sort of compensatory effort? Donors have abdicated any responsibility for achieving real development – which is now the responsibility of the recipient government – so donors will compensate by worrying excessively about their end of the equation?

      ps. The report by the “excellent” Kelsall has an executive summary that itself is 5 pages long. Even their own consultants can’t get to the point!


  7. […] Group on ‘aid effectiveness’ has created a bit of a buzz in the blogosphere. See the Bottom-up Thinking blog for further […]


  8. […] Partnership is everywhere in development these days too. It underpins the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda and the Cairns Compact. In Tanzania a group of donors have even consummated their partnership online. […]


  9. […] Partnership is everywhere in development these days too. It underpins the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda and the Cairns Compact. In Tanzania a group of donors have even consummated their partnership online. […]


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