It’s rare that a major international organization will admit to the general failure of foreign aid activities in fragile states but that’s exactly what the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) ‘almost’ did when it reflected that:
The current ways of working in fragile states need serious improvement. Despite the significant investment and the commitments of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (2008), results and value for money have been modest. Transitioning out of fragility is long, political work that requires country leadership and ownership. Processes of political dialogue have often failed due to lack of trust, inclusiveness, and leadership. International partners can often bypass national interests and actors, providing aid in overly technocratic ways that underestimate the importance of harmonising with the national and local context, and support short-term results at the expense of medium- to long-term sustainable results brought about by building capacity and systems. A New Deal for engagement in fragile states is necessary.
At the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan South Korea last November over 35 countries endorsed the New Deal proposal. This is what they agreed to:
- In 2012 the group will develop a set of Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals which will be used to track progress towards achievement of the Millenium Development Goals and other objectives.
- The group will focus on developing country-led initiatives to find the ways out of fragility.
- The donor countries will work in a more coordinated fashion and try to bring more accountability into the overall process.
All in all these are laudable goals. It remains to be seen whether they can be brought off the drawing board.