Decades of experience in development assistance have shown that the impact on development is seriously reduced when aid relationships are poorly structured or aid delivery mechanisms are inadequately designed.
Recognising that aid was not improving the lives of the poor as much as it should, development practitioners drew on their expertise and experience to come up with a set of principles to improve aid delivery and impact.
Paris and Accra: Turning principles into commitment
In 2005, the vast wealth of practical knowledge about aid effectiveness was brought together for the first time to shape the Paris Declaration, a single set of concise pillars for improving aid. Three years later, the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) reaffirmed these commitments; at the same time, it marked the beginning of a new era in aid relationships by calling for greater collaboration among donors, recipients, governments and civil society organisations.
Together, these documents form a practical, action-oriented roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. The specific implementation measures they put in place are underpinned by a monitoring system to assess progress and ensure that donors and recipients hold each other accountable for their commitments.
Changing aid for the better
The Paris Declaration principles have gained support across the development community, changing aid practice for the better.
It is now the norm for aid recipients to forge their own national development strategies with their parliaments and electorates (ownership); for donors to support these strategies (alignment) and work to streamline their efforts in-country (harmonisation); for development policies to be directed to achieving clear goals and for progress towards these goals to be monitored (results); and for donors and recipients alike to be jointly responsible for achieving these goals (mutual accountability).
The Paris and Accra Principles:
1. Ownership: Ownership means that developing countries determine and implement their own development policies to achieve their economic, social and environmental goals. All development actors - parliaments, central and local governments, CSOs, research institutes, media and the private sector - should actively participate, and donors should respect country decisions and support efforts to increase local capacity..
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2. Alignment: Donors base their overall support on partner countries’ national development strategies, institutions and procedures. This implies, among other things, committing to use country systems as the first option for aid programmes in support of activities managed by the public sector. In return, developing countries will improve the quality and transparency of their public financial management system.
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Public financial management
3. Harmonisation: Donors make their actions more coordinated, transparent and agile. They make common arrangements at country level to simplify and unify procedures to avoid overburdening developing countries. Donors—in consultation with developing countries—should also make full use of their comparative advantages by concentrating their efforts on countries or areas of work where they make a significant contribution to development.
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Sectoral approaches: Health as a Tracer Sector
Division of labour for complementarity
4. Managing for Results: Managing for results means managing and implementing aid in a way that focuses on desired results and uses information to improve decision-making. Developing countries should strengthen linkages between national development strategies and budget processes.
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5. Mutual accountability: Developing countries and donors will enhance accountability and transparency in the use of development resources. Developing countries will strengthen parliament and civil society’s role in overseeing the development process. Donors will make aid predictable by providing timely, transparent and comprehensive information. All development partners will undertake mutual assessments of progress in implementing agreed commitments.
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6. Inclusive partnerships: All partners - including donors in the OECD Development Assistance Committee and developing countries, as well as other donors, foundations and civil society – participate fully.
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The private sector