Tuesday, May 12, 2009

After Accra: Delivering on the Agenda for Action

Jeffrey Gutman of the World Bank Institute recently put together a special report entitled After Accra: Delivering on the Agenda for Action, which attempts to assess the progress made toward the Paris Declaration (2005) and the recent Accra Agenda for Action (2008). The report looks at overall progress and the effectiveness of programmes in specific countries, as well as outlines the next major steps that need to be taken by donors, developing countries, and the World Bank.

In 2005, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness was implemented as a "roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development." An agreement between donor and recipient countries, the Paris Declaration attempted to reform the delivery and management of aid funding to strengthen its impact and effectiveness. Five principles (ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for development results, and mutual accountability) outline the goals of the Paris Declaration and can be read in their entirety here. 122 donor and recipient countries and 26 international organizations adhered to the agreement and are currently attempting to improve the effectiveness of aid funding by 2010.

Three years later, a High Level Forum (HLF) was held in Accra, Ghana, to assess progress on the implementation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and to set out an agenda for action. The result of this meeting was the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) which recommitted the international community to achieving progress toward the Paris Declaration, as well as the Millennium Development Goals. The AAA lists actions that developing countries and donors should take in order to accelerate implementation of the Paris Declaration, and improve aid effectiveness.

The HLF in Accra was especially significant in that it took steps to increase the developing countries role in the process. At the event, "developing countries’ concerns determined the agenda, developing countries’ representatives were part of all decisions relating to the HLF, and developing countries were full partners in the negotiations leading to the final communiqué, the Accra Agenda for Action." By allowing developing countries a voice in such a forum, concerns and issues can be addressed, making the implementation of such an agreement much smoother and feasible. Developing country participants at Accra are not only necessary as a voice at such meetings, but also as a way to "take the message of Accra back to their communities and institutions and put them into practice."

The AAA not only provides a platform to improve aid effectiveness, but also adds a new dimensions to the discourse as a whole. Recognizing the role of Parliaments, local governments, civil society institutions, research institutes, media, and the private sector, as well as middle-income countries and global funds, the agreement has a plethora of partners in its development efforts and is able to achieve significant progress throughout the country toward set goals. South-South cooperation is highlighted, with an emphasis on sharing good practices and experiences among others trying to reach the same goals. Specifically, Gutman's article highlights Madagascar and Sri Lanka, which have taken noteworthy steps to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for their citizens. Furthermore, the AAA is unique in that is emphasizes a true partnership between donors and developing countries, rather than a dictated agenda.

In order to achieve considerable progress by 2010, the international community must constantly work toward meeting the goals set out by the Paris Agreements and the Accra Agenda for Action. Checks on the effectiveness and implementation of such practices are essential in order to highlight those countries that are leading the way, and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

To read more about Gutman's take on progress since Accra, and to see his suggestion for what developing countries, donors, and the World Bank now need to do, see his article, After Accra: Delivering on the Agenda for Action at http://www1.worldbank.org/devoutreach/articleid521.html

You can learn more about the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) by reading the policy briefs produced by the Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO) shortly after the Accra meeting in 2008:

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