Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

DAC Guidelines and Reference Series


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The OECD Development Assistance Committee develops guidelines and reference documents, published in the DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, to inform and assist members in the conduct of their development co-operation programmes. The series was established in 2003.


Guidelines and references from 2001-2002 were published as DAC Guidelines.


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International Support to Post-Conflict Transition: Rethinking Policy, Changing Practice (2012)

1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence and insecurity. These countries face tremendous challenges as they transition from conflict to peace. International support can play a crucial role in these contexts, but has so far struggled to deliver transformative results. This volume presents clear policy recommendations for better practice in order to improve the speed, flexibility, predictability and risk management of international support during post-conflict transition.

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Supporting Statebuilding in Situations of Conflict and Fragility: Policy Guidance (2011)

Tackling the challenges associated with fragility requires a concerted international effort to support sustainable statebuilding processes, based on robust state-society relations. This policy guidance introduces an internationally accepted conceptual framework and offers recommendations for strategy development, programme design and delivery, and day-to-day operations in the field and at headquarters.

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DAC Quality Standards for Development Evaluation (2010)

The DAC Quality Standards for Development Evaluation provide a guide to good practice in development evaluation. Built through international consensus, the Standards outline the key quality dimensions for each phase of a typical evaluation process: defining purpose, planning, designing, implementing, reporting, and learning from and using evaluation results.

Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth: The Economics and Politics (2008)

Recent research indicates that not only can the process of taxation generate capable administrations but tax can also be a key means to promote accountability. In this publication donors are encouraged to take more proactive steps to support revenue raising activities in partner countries as a way of strengthening their capacity and to phase out external assistance in the medium term. Buy online

Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth: The Economics and Politics

Governance, Taxation and Accountability (2008)

Recent research indicates that not only can the process of taxation generate capable administrations but tax can also be a key means to promote accountability. In this publication donors are encouraged to take more proactive steps to support revenue raising activities in partner countries as a way of strengthening their capacity and to phase out external assistance in the medium term.

Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: A Practical Guide to ex ante Poverty Impact Assessment (2007)

Ex ante poverty impact assessment (PIA) helps donors and developing countries address vital questions that influence the impact and outcomes of their policies and programmes on the poor. The PIA process also fosters aid effectiveness, managing for results and the harmonisation of donor practices. This practical guide is designed to help staff in developing countries and in aid agencies to plan and execute PIAs and to interpret their findings, the ultimate goal being to design and implement more effective poverty reduction policies and programmes.

Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: Policy Guidance for Donors (2007)

This book pays special attention to the role of private sector development, agriculture and infrastructure in pro-poor growth – areas that were neglected by many donors during the 1990s but are currently receiving renewed attention in the international development agenda.  It also presents a methodology for conducting ex ante poverty impact assessment, a valuable tool for improving the poverty reducing impacts of development interventions.

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Whole of Government Approaches to Fragile States (2007)

This study assesses existing WGAs, drawing upon recent experiences of a number of OECD countries in fragile states. It lays out the rationale for using a WGA in fragile states and addresses common challenges. Different countries' WGAs are analysed from the point of view of concepts and policies, tools and instruments, as well as their co-ordination and management.

Governance and development

The Challenge of Capacity Development: Working Towards Good Practice (2006) (pdf, 444.5 kB)draws on four decades of documented experience to help policy makers and practitioners think through effective approaches to capacity development and what challenges remain in the drive to boost country capacity.

Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment: Good Practice Guidance for Development Co-operation (2006)

This report explains the benefits of using SEA in development co-operation and sets out key steps for its application, based on recent experiences. Twelve different entry points are identified for the practical application of SEA in development co-operation. For each entry point a guidance note, a checklist of questions and hands-on case studies are provided. Evaluation and capacity development for SEA processes are also addressed.

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Promoting Private Investment for Development: The Role of ODA (2006) (pdf, 223.8 kB)

This report provides guidance on using official development assistance (ODA) more effectively to mobilise private investment for development. It focuses on how development agencies can help influence the conditions that lead to increased levels of private investment and on how investment can better contribute to the achievement of broader societal goals, including poverty reduction. A fundamental objective is to help staff in development agencies, both in headquarters and the field, to pursue a more strategic and co-ordinated approach when they design and deliver investment-enhancing ODA.

Harmonising Donor Practices for Effective Aid Delivery, Vol. 2  (2006)

Following the first volume of good practices published in 2003, this second volume focuses more specifically on good practice in providing budget support (Chapter 2) and support to sector-wide approaches (Chapter 3). In doing so, it acknowledges the special relevance of public financial management issues for both of these modalities of aid delivery. Buy online

Managing Aid: Practices of DAC Member Countries (2005)

The members of OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) give almost USD 70 billion in foreign aid (development co-operation) annually. How to manage that aid for the best results is the subject of this study, based on the organisational structures and practices of 22 of the world's main donor countries. Buy online

Environmental Fiscal Reform for Poverty Reduction (2005) (pdf, 1.43 MB)

This DAC Policy Reference paper outlines key issues to be faced when designing Environmental Fiscal Reform (EFR). EFR refers to a range of taxation and pricing measures which can raise fiscal revenues while furthering environmental goals. This objective is to provide insights and "good practice" on how development co-operation agencies can help developing countries take advantage of EFR approaches in their development and poverty reduction strategies. Buy online

Security System Reform and Governance (2005) (pdf, 1.03 MB)
This Reference Document reviews good practices on Security System Reform to help developing countries address their public security systems overall, including the functioning of police and justice systems, civilian control of the armed forces, and protection of human rights. Buy online

A Development Co-operation Lens on Terrorism Prevention: Key Entry Points for Action (2003)

This Reference Document looks at how aid can be delivered more effectively through simplifying and harmonising donor procedures.

Harmonising Donor Practices for Effective Aid Delivery, Vol. 1, (2003)
This publication provides a set of good practice papers on how donors can enhance their operational procedures with a view to strengthening partner country ownership. Buy online 

Poverty and Health (2003)
In developing counties, breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and ill health is an essential condition for economic development. Buy online 

DAC Guidelines


Integrating the Rio Conventions into Development Co-operation (2002) (pdf, 564.2 kB)
This publication aims to clarify the linkages between the Rio Conventions and sustainable development, and provide insights as to how development co-operation agencies can help developing countries respond to global environmental threats. Buy online

publication (2001)

These Guidelines provide practical information about the nature of poverty and best practice approaches, policies, instruments and channels for tackling it. They also break new ground in setting out the parameters for building effective partnerships with governments, civil society, and other development actors, and in describing how institutional change and development within bilateral agencies themselves could be undertaken for mainstreaming poverty reduction, partnership and policy coherence. Buy online

Strategies for Sustainable Development: Practical Guidance for Development Co-operation (2001)

This publication provides policy guidance on good practice in developing and implementing strategies for sustainable development. While it focuses on the experience of developing countries, many of the issues covered and lessons drawn are of equal relevance to developed countries. It draws from international experience over the past two decades in both developed and developing countries and assesses their experience of country-level strategies for sustainable development. These Guidelines aim to provide guidance for development co-operation agencies in their efforts to assist developing countries towards sustainable development.

Strengthening Trade Capacity for Development (2001)
Developing countries want to join in the globalisation process. However, the increasing complexity of global markets, the new challenges of the multilateral trading system and the competing demands of regional, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements confront developing countries with an expanding array of competitiveness and policy challenges. And, in many cases, they lack the institutional and human resource capacity to meet these challenges. These Guidelines aim to help developing countries enhance their capacity to trade and participate more effectively in the international rule-making and institutional mechanisms that shape the global trading system.

Helping Prevent Violent Conflict (2001)

These Guidelines cover key issues such as security, development and dealing with small arms; regional co-operation; peace processes, justice and reconciliation; engaging in partnerships for peace; working with business; and grappling with the political economy of war - situations where powerful groups acquire a vested interest in sparking or perpetuating violent conflict. They identify concrete opportunities for donor assistance in support of peace that include: democratisation; inter-community relations; education and cross-cultural training; human rights training; freedom and access to information; the reintegration of uprooted populations; the demobilisation of former combatants; landmine clearing; and the restoration of a capacity for economic management.

Older guidelines

DAC Guidelines on Gender Equality & Women's Empowerment in Development Co-operation (1998)
A set of practical guidance for advancing the goals identified by the DAC and by Beijing with respect to gender equality, drawing on the lessons of experience and incorporating illustrations of improved efficiency, effectiveness and coherence in development co-operation.


Shaping the 21st Century (1996)(pdf, 104.2)

Shaping the 21st Century sets forth strategic orientations for development co-operation into the 21st century. The report recalls the importance of development for people everywhere and the impressive record of human progress during the past 50 years. It suggests a set of basic goals based on UN Conference outcomes - for economic well-being, social development and environmental sustainability -- as a vision for the future. These goals, and the partnership approach, have since then widely adopted in the international development system as the Millennium Development Goals. In this context, DAC members have developed a series of guidelines for attaining the ambitious goals set out in Shaping the 21st Century.


Donor Assistance to Capacity Development in Environment (1995)(pdf, 28.3 kB)

These guidelines are intended to articulate a set of basis orientations which can act as a point of reference for aid donors in forming approaches to aid programming aimed at contributing to the enhancement in developing countries of capacities to address environmental issues in a sustainable manner.


Guidelines on Environment and Aid (1992-1995)

Designed to help policy-makers as well as practitioners in donor agencies and developing countries devise strategies to address serious national, regional and international environmental concerns. They are aimed at assisting DAC Members to improve and co-ordinate policies which will integrate development and environment imperatives.


Support of Private Sector Development (1995) (pdf, 2.17 MB)

These orientations address the fundamentals of privatisation, financial sector reform and enterprise development. They also consider a host of related issues such as the importance of appropriate economic policies and an enabling environment that encourages private initiative, promoting dialogue and co-operation between the public and private sectors, and supporting environmentally sustainable methods and technologies.


Participatory Development and Good Governance (1995) (pdf, 2.0 MB)

These guidelines affirm and help to explain the contributions to sustainable development of participation, democratisation, good governance and respect for human rights. They offer practical insights about four dimensions of good governance believed to be of particular importance for sustainable development - the rule of law, public sector management, controlling corruption and reducing excessive military expenditures. For each of these themes the guidelines suggest possible areas for action in development co-operation, including examples.