Belgium - DAC Peer Reviews of Development Co-operation, 2015
Belgium will need more flexibility in aid programmes to meet poor-country goals
Belgium is making a laudable push to direct more development aid to the poorest countries, but to deliver on this it needs to set firm deadlines, make its aid programme more flexible, and should reverse a decline in overall aid, according to an OECD Review.
The latest DAC Peer Review of Belgium notes that the country sent 35% of its official aid to least-developed countries in 2013 – above the donor average – and has promised to raise that to 50%, with a focus on North, West and Central Africa. Achieving this will be difficult without changes to the way Belgian aid is budgeted, programmed and delivered. Lighter procedures, increased budget flexibility and more delegation of responsibility to developing country partners would help Belgium make good on its goals.
Belgium’s modernised humanitarian framework focuses on areas where it can clearly add value
Belgium has made enormous progress on its strategic approach to humanitarian assistance since the last peer review in 2010, modernising its legal, policy and budgetary framework to allow for quality, predicable funding arrangements in areas where it can clearly add value. There is also now a clear policy focus for the humanitarian programme linked to Belgium’s overall strategic priorities. The new framework allows for holistic programming, enlarging the scope of programming to include areas such as recovery and risk reduction.
However, links between the development and humanitarian programmes could be strengthened. Funding allocations – set out, and thus ring-fenced for four years, in the budget – heavily favour core funding to the multilateral system and pooled funds, meaning that Belgium’s focus is actually on specific partnerships, rather than on specific crises and themes. This is a useful strategy, providing predictability and flexibility for partners, mitigating against the potential for politicised decision making, and providing an efficient way to disburse, given the limited number of humanitarian staff in DGD. It has also helped provide the basis for quality partnerships with multilateral agencies.