Portugal - DAC Peer Review of Development Co-operation, 2016
Portugal needs to increase its development aid and improve oversight
Portugal has endeavoured to maintain its foreign aid programme since the economic crisis, but its aid budget has been hit hard and a plan is needed to avoid a further decline and get back on a path towards internationally agreed targets.
The latest DAC Peer Review of Portugal notes that Portugal’s official development assistance (ODA) has dropped for three consecutive years to stand at USD 419 million in 2014, according to preliminary data. That equates to 0.19% of its gross national income (GNI), below an average of 0.3% for OECD Development Assistance Committee members and far off a UN and EU donors’ target of 0.7%.
Portugal brings many positive elements to international development. This includes a forward-looking vision, a tight geographic focus and a commitment to partner countries which have a strong voice in aid projects. These assets could be more effectively deployed if Portugal commits to increase its aid volume, untie its aid and improve the co-ordination and oversight of its aid programme
Strong whole-of-government presence in partner countries
Portugal has a strong whole-of-government presence in its partner countries, with many government ministries (Defence, Justice and International Affairs) having their own representatives in country. This has enabled Portugal to exploit synergies across its various policy communities and to deliver a comprehensive approach to development, beyond ODA, as evidenced in Sao Tome and Principe.
However, this strong whole-of-government presence can also make harmonisation complicated, particularly given that many line ministries have their own direct relationships with their counterparts in partner countries. Portugal’s joint expert mission to Guinea-Bissau in 2014, which brought together representatives from over eight line ministries to establish renewed co-operation is a good example of an integrated response to partner country programming that could be emulated in other countries to ensure a truly co ordinated approach on the ground.