Monday, November 21, 2011

New Aid Model Expected: The Road To Busan

Read extracts of the interview with Ronald Nkusi, director the External Finance Unit in Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Plannin, in the article "a new model of making development assistance more successful is expected" to emerge at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.  A statement from Paris by donor and partner countries reads:
"Government representatives meeting in Paris ahead of the forum say major components of a new agreement will include greater transparency, accountability, gender equality and attention to climate change. "
No mention of migration and development. Donor and partner countries apparently not yet interested in that nexus. Why? Is it because migrants are not well organized? Is it because partner countries are hostile to their diaspora's? Is there a debate? Let us look into it. An economist who worked at the worldbank, David Ellerman, sees immigration as defection in a october 10th 2011 blogpost:
"One should always keep in mind the overall point that economic development is a cooperative effort requiring the extended "team effort" and "esprit de crops" of people in the developing country—a cooperative effort as in the East Asian countries over the last half century."  
I don't know how much influence David Ellerman has on the worldwide debate concerning migration and development, but it's impressive how much power the "Beijing consensus" narrative has on his thinking.
Brian Atwood, who has a dispute with Peter Erlinder and  former Rwandan minister Jean-Marie Ndgaijimana on wether a certain meeting with UN SG Koffi Annan took place or not, chairs the development assistance committee of donor and partner countries which prepared The Road To Busan. The outcome document that will frame discussions at the fourth High Level Forum (HLF) on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea later this year is already drafted. A document called CSOs Road To Busan can be found here. This last document states for example:
Policy conditionality fundamentally undermines democratic ownership and the richt to development.
The usual "capacity builders" and women rights groups obviously worked hard to get their talking points on the table in Busan.  CGD released last week the second edition of the Brookings-CGD Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) assessment. Ownership and accountability are two of the main aspects that the EU wants to stress at the 4th High-level Forum on Aid effectiveness from 29 November to 1 December in Busan, South Korea. An overview of the critical discussion and debate on the road to Busan is provided at Karsten Weitzenegger's blog. For example:
"At Busan, world leaders will again proclaim their faith in the power of local parliaments and civil society to make aid more transparent, accountable and effective. ”I have my doubts,” writes Till Bruckner in this Devev Blog. Accountability is inherently demand-driven. If local parliaments and NGOs are to effectively monitor and influence international aid, they must be highly capable, and willing and able to rise to the challenge. In most aid recipient countries, these preconditions for aid accountability simply do not exist."
It's amazing no migration or diaspora groups have proposed anything for this high level meeting on the road to Busan. Isn't there a global forum on migration and development holding it's final debate in Geneva in december? Isn't there some preparations going on for the high level UN Dialogue on migration and development in 2013?

A Busan reading list via @viewfromthecave


Anonymous said...

You asked in a previous post what "capacity building" means and, in this one, put it in quotes.

I can try to clarify and define.

In the broadest sense, all capacity building means is identifying, recruiting, and training folks to carry out a project that involves the delivery of some service.

In the corporate world, this could be extending a grant to a local community group that would be the recipient of the grant to hire folks internally to oversee both the grant and the program(s) it is funding- standard practice in America.

In the development context it is more or less the same thing with the only difference being it entails working with some authority- usually a government body.

Thus, in theories of state building there is a back and forth over what is the ultimate object of a capacity building project: should it be the civil servants? local NGO's? both? the council that disburses the funds and holds the government/ngo accountable? etc.

As an example, I know for a fact that aid to Haiti is entirely based on the evaluation end of "program management". The Haitian government knows how to collect taxes, how to budget, how to allocate funds, and how to devise and create programs with those funds. Indeed, Mobutu would not have survived as long as he did if it wasn’t for Haitian budgeters and accountants that moved to the Congo to assist. It is REALLY bad on that final evaluation step which is key because one needs to be able to say "did this work? if so, why? if not, why not? what recommendations should we make to improve it?"

(more below)

Anonymous said...


Aid, in the Haitian context, is completely bypassing NGO's because the relations between NGO's and the government is a relatively healthy one- the former holds the latter accountable effectively and has mechanisms that encourage average Haitians to debate potential policies and offer a "grassroots consensus" on them to ensure policies reflect the needs of Haitians. This also evolves Haitian migrants.

In places like the Congo and a good deal of failing or failed states, most state-building scholars are divided on the way forward because governments and NGO's are either weak or weak and corrupt.

As a result, conditionality is becoming the mantra. And, certain kinds of conditions. If Norway is going to give aid to Malawi then in addition to reports on how its all being spent, given its their taxpayers money, successive disbursements will be subject to clear governance benchmarks related to key institutions: the media, courts and legal systems, the presidency and parliament, civil society participation in debates, etc. The idea is to not to build capacity but to use a carrot and a stick approach and spur Malawans to improve there management and administration of these institutions on their own dime.

In a place like Congo, where the civil administration is so weak and demoralized from lack of or no pay, I'd personally prefer all the money go into capacity building so as to professionalize the Civil Service, bring down corruption, and raise skill levels. This means that I am not so much concerned about conditions because a happier, more professional, and more efficient Civil Service will mean, over time, a more functioning and less repressive state.

Or simply better governance and hence more development.

If we had civil servants who knew how to effectively tax, build roads, run schools, design and build power plants, work the courts, etc would the resulting economic growth not bring down corruption? If we had less but more highly trained and efficient civil servants would this not reduce the need to "get a cut" on the service delivery?

More critically, would this not mean less aid for the Congo over time?

In a profound sense, capacity building reflects American corporations view of management- less is more and more is profitable. If we can get a highly trained person good at computers and accessing information, we don't need 15 people in a division- we can do it with 5, cut costs, and raise profits.

Capacity building has this same logic and, I'd add, is a slow but growing sign conservatives are increasing their presence over liberals in aid circles and policy.

Migrants could have a role here in the sense that some of them have professional and/or management skill. Thus, if they hitched on the capacity building bandwagon and advocated for aid that allows migrants with said skills to manage projects as a PART of the aid package they could do some good.


Vincent Harris said...

Thank you for giving a definition of capacity building. Very interesting and informative read for me.

Let me add my brainstorming on the last paragraph.

The democratization in Europe, first half of twentieth century led to tension between charismatic and bureaucratic leadership. Something similar happened in Congo. Today this tension is apparent in western europe with the rise of populist parties and the traditional political parties losing grip while they have become totally focused on running a bureaucracy.

The Mobutu legacy seems to me not just a failing bureaucracy, but also a certain citizenship model. An exotic nationalist mix, with chinese influences, with it's famous article 15 'débrouillez-vous'.

Off course, migrants can be the victorious Julius Caesars returning to Rome and taking over the "empire".

I like the "apostle Paul" model, quoted in Berlin by JF Kennedy in his "ich bin ein Berliner" speech. A model which places the citizen at the heart of the state building project. A citizen that can be both critical of the state and build(capacity) together with his/her fellow citizens. (Political parties in the Netherlands in the past were vehicles of certain citizenship models.)

Migrant workers are seen (in EU regulations and jurisprudence) as a tool for further integration of the EU in order to sustain peace.