Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

What role for the OECD post the Indian Ocean Tsunami? (DACNews June-August 2005)


The OECD DAC Secretariat is in the process of collecting data to monitor DAC donors’ fulfilment of aid pledges made in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

In the meantime the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is tracking donors’ pledges, commitments and disbursements in its regular database for emergency aid only. OCHA has already recorded about USD 6.7 billion in pledges for tsunami affected countries, of which about USD 4.6 billion are from DAC members. However, most of these expenditures relate to reconstruction aid, which is outside OCHA’s mandate (to track emergency humanitarian aid only), and therefore OCHA is the process of removing pledges for reconstruction aid from its data collection.

The biggest expenditures are in reconstruction and rehabilitation initiatives, which will of course take place in the longer term. Given the unprecedented public interest in the delivery of tsunami related aid, it is very important that this information be made available to show how short-term – and longer-term – pledges are being turned into development work on the ground, and in the case of reconstruction, give an indication of the time-frame involved.

The OECD DAC Secretariat will carry out a special survey to collect more timely information and data on aid commitments and disbursements to tsunami hit countries, which will not be included in OCHA’s records. This will provide information about DAC members’ expenditures, a year after the catastrophe took place, rather than waiting until the end of 2006 when data is usually collected. Results from the survey should be available by the end of 2005.

The OECD DAC is also involved in initiatives to prevent corruption in the delivery of tsunami aid. Affected countries and donors have now come up with a set of principles (see to prevent corruption, after getting together in April at a meeting organized jointly by the OECD, the Asian Development Bank, and Transparency International (hosted by the Government of Indonesia in Jakarta).

Participants stressed that this was only the start of a long-term process to fight corruption and promote transparency in disaster relief operations post the tsunami. The three organising institutions, including the OECD DAC were called on to come up with a policy on managing corruption in humanitarian relief and to provide solutions, for use in disaster affected communities across the world.

The principles or recommendations to make tsunami aid as effective as possible and corruption free, reflect many of the commitments made in the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness in February of this year – simply, to do aid better.

Participants at the meeting in Jakarta agreed for example that:

  • Donors should coordinate with governments and among themselves to avoid duplication of assistance schemes
  • They should also establish uniform procurement rules, maintain and publish clear books and records, and provide assurance of full internal and external controls
  • They must make a careful assessment of the local conditions so that allocated resources match needs
  • Transparent procurement and project implementation processes must be followed by all stakeholders and internal and external audit, evaluation and monitoring are essential. 
  • Specifically, ensuring access to appropriate information is a key element to improving the transparency of aid flows.

Yasmin Ahmad of the OECD DAC Secretariat explained that a wide range of statistical information on aid activities is gathered each year by the DAC. Due to the long-term nature of the information gathered, however, this data is difficult to apply in the context of an emergency situation , which is why a special survey on tsunami aid is needed.

Work has now begun on the development of a set of operational guidelines which can be used for planning, tracking, and evaluating aid flows and the implementation of relief and reconstruction efforts. It is hoped that this will ultimately help to prevent waste and corruption in humanitarian relief and reconstruction.

For more information about the meeting, go to: