Conflict and dialogue: What can the development community do
This issue of DACnews zeroes in on two important areas of attention for the
development community: conflict and dialogue. It takes a look at how the
reality of conflict impinges on development, and vice versa. It also focuses
on the growing complexity of the development landscape, and how increasing
dialogue is helping to build a road on common ground.
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Challenges and opportunities in the Central African Republic
Armed violence and development
The DAC of the future:
Reaching beyond the development community
Widening the dialogue
DAC job opportunities
Challenges and opportunities in the Central African Republic
The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is too disturbing for
donors to ignore it. Yet its chronic, complex and deep-seated nature makes it
difficult to identify a straightforward response that will have a fair
chance of success. At a
multi-stakeholder consultation facilitated by the DAC Secretariat to
assess the impact of international engagement in CAR, one of the 90
participants said: “…the situation is like that of the proverbial frog in a
pot of water: because the water is heated gradually, the frog ignores the
danger and so does not jump out.”
CAR is poor and getting poorer. There is acute malnutrition in spite of
fertile soils. Violence, road banditry and foreign incursions are the order
of the day, contributing to this slow asphyxiation. And CAR is one of the
two Least Developed Countries in Africa with a falling Human Development
Indicator; life expectancy there fell from 49 years in 1988 to 43 years in
While CAR has a history of violent coups (four between 1965 and 2003); today
malaria, HIV/AIDS and diarrhea are the main killers. This small country of
around 4 million people is landlocked by five countries, each with its own
share of problems: the soft belly of Central Africa, it can stabilize or
destabilize the region.
In this context, what has been the extent of donor support? Between 1985 and
2006, official development assistance (ODA) to CAR fell by 49%. Currently,
there are only five main donors (providing more than 5% of CAR’s ODA each
and with resident representation), of which only two are bilateral donors.
Moreover, while aid per capita – at USD 41 – is a little over the
sub-Saharan average (USD 35), CAR is under-funded in relation to its need.
Ranked 178 out of 179 on the Human Development Index (2008), with two-thirds
of the population living on less than one dollar a day (2007), CAR is
unlikely to meet any of the MDGs by 2015.
What is needed to improve this situation? While more aid would be welcome,
the greatest urgency now is to improve the quality of aid to CAR.
When donors are scarce and there are limited resources to cover vast needs,
the focus is often placed on raising more resources. CAR is no exception:
it has been recognised as a “forgotten crisis” and its humanitarian funding
has jumped from USD 2.9m in 2004 to 90.3m in 2008; 35% of CAR’s ODA is
currently provided as humanitarian aid. This sort of “long-term humanitarian
assistance”, however, is a contradiction in terms unless it is successfully
geared toward recovery, or circumstances prevent moving from emergency to
recovery. Neither of these is the case in CAR.
Furthermore, development efforts in CAR are not concentrated in areas where
ex-combatants are being demobilised and reintegrated into their communities,
and this means that they have little to reintegrate into. And because
resources are not properly leveraged, corruption has run rampant. CAR is
ranked 151/180 in the Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions
Index. Without improved governance, adding more money is like pouring water
in the sand.
What next? While 2010 is election year and therefore fraught with
challenges, it is a year of great opportunities. CAR has seen a gradual
return to socio-political stability and economic growth during 2004-07,
culminating in a peace dialogue in 2008. Its debt relief under the Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries initiative was celebrated with song and dance
throughout the country. The upcoming elections, if free and fair, will
signal a consolidation of democracy.
Current attempts to rationalise aid in CAR will contribute to increasing wellbeing. Humanitarian actors are increasingly gearing their
programmes towards longer-term recovery. The European Commission and the
United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, in particular, aim to complement the
predominantly humanitarian approach and extend development efforts beyond
Bangui. Moreover, CAR is a country of low hanging fruit: small investments
can have huge impact on satisfying the basic needs of its small population,
reversing the slide into poverty.
The DAC, through its International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF)
is preparing a report on CAR as part of the
Fragile States Principles
Monitoring Survey. The report will gauge the quality of international
engagement there. INCAF has also offered to support an upcoming national
roundtable on Security System Reform. The DAC monitors
to CAR and other fragile states (aid, peacekeeping expenditures, trade and
remittances) and collaborates with the
Commission to raise awareness about this “aid orphan”.
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Armed violence and development
The United Nations Secretary-General's report
Promoting Development through the Reduction and Prevention of Armed
Violence has been released and will be tabled in November 2009 at the
UN General Assembly.
It is a common assumption that social, economic and political development
will gradually strengthen state institutions and lead to an increase in
public security and safety. Nonetheless, over the past 20 years some areas
where economic and social development has been advancing have actually
experienced an increase in armed violence. This indicates that armed
violence has its own dynamic, and therefore needs to be treated as a policy
issue in its own right.
The UN report cites increasing evidence on the complex ways in which armed
violence acts as both a cause and consequence of underdevelopment. This type
of practical evidence – together with effective strategies to prevent and
reduce armed violence – is indispensable in helping affected societies to
meet their development targets. The UN report recognises and draws from the
armed violence reduction work underway in the DAC: “The OECD-DAC
Armed Violence Reduction: Enabling Development (OECD, 2009)
highlights the linkages between conflict and crime, the increasing
challenges posed by growing youth populations in developing countries and
the overlapping security challenges present from the local to the global
level. Such efforts suggest that a growing body of policy and practice is
emerging and being adopted by key actors in the development sector to guide
their investments in armed violence prevention and reduction policies and
Today, many states find themselves caught in a “conflict trap”, where
continued armed violence and insecurity cripple development prospects. This
includes many of the world’s poorest countries, most of them in Africa.
Similarly, many states in non-conflict settings have high levels of
organised criminal and interpersonal violence; the resulting insecurity
imposes great costs on fragile institutions, discourages investment and
leads to unproductive household, community and government spending on
security, crime prevention and public order. DAC donor countries have come
together – through the International Network on Conflict and Fragility – to
agree on a common approach to armed violence prevention and reduction in the
countries they support.
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The DAC of the future: Reaching beyond the development
The development community still has a long way to go to meet the targets set
for creating development impact. With less than two years left before the
Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Seoul, 2011) – where we will
assess progress in making aid more effective – we know that addressing the
world’s development challenges will require much more than aid.
The DAC recently completed a reflection exercise on the future of
co-operation. The report, “Investing in Development: A Common
Cause in a Changing World”, puts forward several important messages:
to view development co-operation as a strategic investment in a common
future. In a globalised world, it is key to achieving stability,
economic integration, human security and opportunity for all. It is
important that we communicate this view of development co-operation
better, especially to dispel the common but erroneous perception that
development co-operation is public charity.
development community needs to become more involved in other policy
areas that shape the international context for development. Successful
development means tackling global issues such as climate change, control
of infectious diseases, financial stability, an accessible and equitable
world trade system, access to knowledge, and international peace and
security. It needs to help foster coherent policy actions in areas like
trade, investment, security, migration, tax co-operation and
current architecture and institutional set-up of development
institutions must change: greater client orientation, reduced
organisational complexity, and simplification of instruments and
procedures are fundamental.
development community will have to deal much more with factors beyond
its remit, and often outside of its control. It will also need to ensure
that citizens support development, which calls for becoming much better
at demonstrating the impact of investments.
words of Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of the DAC: “Implementing these ideas will
mean transforming the DAC as we know it today. The DAC of the future will be
much more involved with global issues like climate change and equitable
trade, and will sharpen its policy tools to permit this. We will monitor the
impact of our work and hold ourselves to account. And we will be much more
inclusive and pro-active in working with others.”
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Widening the dialogue
Members of the DAC met with a range of
other providers of development co-operation for a Policy Dialogue in Mexico
City on 28-29 September 2009. At the event, which was hosted by the Mexican
Foreign Ministry, participants exchanged views on their common goals in
international co-operation, compared lessons drawn from their diverse
approaches to co-operation and discussed the potential of more joint work.
Demand for such dialogue is stronger than ever. At last year’s UN
Cooperation Forum (New York), participants expressed the need
for all providers of development co-operation to arrive at more widely
agreed development co-operation practices and objectives. Recognising the
important contribution to development made by middle-income countries and
providers of South-South co-operation, the 2008
Accra Agenda for Action
encourages all providers of co-operation to work together to improve the
effectiveness of their efforts.
Discussions in Mexico revealed that there is much common ground. Promoting
poverty reduction and economic growth, and supporting partner countries in
times of crisis remain the highest of shared priorities. And new goals, such
as the provision of global public goods and addressing climate change, are
of increasing concern to all.
Participants also agreed broadly on the principles that should underpin
these shared goals. First and foremost, they stressed the importance of
partnership. Latin American countries, for example, emphasized that their
co-operation is horizontal, based on mutual benefits and shared learning
with partners. DAC members spotlighted their efforts to develop true
partnerships with aid recipients, spurred by the recognition that aid can
only be effective if its recipients have true ownership of their own
development policies and processes. In line with the principles of
partnership and ownership, participants agreed that supporting the
development of partner countries’ capacity to manage the development process
is a fundamental objective of all co-operation.
Several participants noted that convergence around goals and principles do
not necessarily mean that providers of development co-operation need to
harmonise their ways of delivering assistance. Leaving space for a diversity
of approaches, they argued, helps partner countries to find innovative and
well-tailored solutions to their development challenges. Participants agreed
that there is a lot of scope for learning from each others’ experiences and
replicating those that have generated sustainable development results.
Participants also noted the scope for learning about triangular
co-operation. Several presentations revealed strong political interest in
expanding on this front, referring to it as a potential “win-win-win” for
all partners: traditional donors, other providers of development
co-operation and beneficiary countries.
The DAC Secretariat presented a paper on Triangular Co-operation and Aid
Effectiveness, outlining the perceived benefits and main challenges in
making it work. On the one hand, triangular co-operation is often more
relevant to the needs of beneficiary countries than bilateral co-operation;
but on the other, the involvement of multiple partners brings added
transaction costs and co-ordination challenges. Further sharing of lessons
learned and evaluations of triangular initiatives can help elucidate ways in
which the benefits of
co-operation can be maximised and costs reduced. A
full report of the Policy Dialogue will be available in the coming weeks. In
the meantime, please visit
www.oecd.org/dac/mexicodialogue for the background documents and
presentations delivered at the event.
Securing human development in
a resource-constrained world
DACnews invited Mathis Wackernagel Ph.D.,
co-founder of the Ecological Footprint and President of the Global Footprint
Network, to share his views on what we should be thinking about as we
prepare for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in
Copenhagen, 7-18 December 2009.
As our global leaders prepare for Copenhagen, the crucial issue of
climate change will once again be thrust onto the public consciousness. At
no other time will we have such an opportunity to urge these leaders – and
the world – to recognize that the carbon problem is part of an overall
resource crunch – a symptom of human pressure on resources that is reaching
a critical tipping point. The concentration of carbon in our atmosphere is
the most critical resource issue we face. But there are others as well.
Access to fresh water, food security, forest resources, biodiversity, oil –
all of these will increasingly be under threat as long as humanity continues
to use more resources than the Earth can provide.
In today’s world, with humanity already exceeding planetary limits,
ecological assets are increasingly critical. Each country has its own
ecological risk profile, and many are running ecological deficits, with
Ecological Footprints (or resource demand) larger than their own
biological capacity. As a consequence, they often deplete their own
ecological assets or must depend heavily on resources and ecological
services from elsewhere, which are under growing pressure. In some areas of
the world, the implications of ecological deficits can be devastating:
resource loss, ecosystem collapse, debt, poverty, violent conflicts and
A comprehensive approach to these concurring issues not only increases
the chances of solving them, but directly affects development in low-income
countries, whose populations often suffer first and most tragically as
resources become scarce. One of the greatest challenges for these regions
remains: how can people in low-income areas move out of poverty in a world
of shrinking resources?
In a world of climate change and resource degradation, it is
fundamental for managers and policy makers to have reliable assessments of
human demand compared to ecosystem capacity – year by year. In 2006,
Global Footprint Network and the Swiss Agency for Development and
Cooperation launched a multi-phase, sustainable Human Development
Initiative, focused on Africa, to explore how ecological limits apply and
relate to human development. We discovered that African countries have some
of the lowest per capita Ecological Footprints in the world – in many cases
too small to meet basic needs for food, shelter, health and sanitation.
Aggregate results for Tanzania (Figure 1) illustrate this comparison.1
We must view resources as assets. To maintain a healthy budget, we
must know how much we spend, versus how much we have. The Ecological
Footprint is an accounting approach that allows us not only to measure;
through that measurement, we can also manage human demand on these assets.
This can help development efforts to work with, rather than against, the
Earth’s ecological budget constraints. The Footprint provides a systematic
way of land accounting. It measures the amount of ecological services people
use and expresses this in terms of the area of productive land and sea
required to renew all the resources a person, population or activity
consumes and to absorb the corresponding waste, particularly carbon dioxide
emissions. The accounting unit is global hectares, meaning hectares with
This data has helped shed light on many of Africa’s ecological challenges,
paving the way for more informed decision making at the national level. For
example, in June 2008 at the African Conference of Ministers of the
Environment, Global Footprint Network and WWF issued
Ecological Footprint and human well-being, which offers an in-depth
look at the region’s resource assets and pressures. A more detailed
Footprint Factbook: Africa 2009 was released early this year.
These publications show that many African countries are ecological
creditors, with a potentially valuable surplus of natural assets. At the
same time, the booming population is escalating stress on available
resources, bringing the region close to its ecological limits even while per
capita consumption remains, in many instances, too low to provide for basic
By combining the Ecological Footprint with the UNDP’s Human Development
Index (HDI) (or similar measures of human wellbeing), we are able to measure
the minimal conditions for sustainable human development, defined as a
situation in which all humans can have fulfilling lives without degrading
the planet. The HDI measures a country’s average achievements in the areas
of health, knowledge, and standard of living.
The same approach can be used when exploring what is needed to make local
development last. Unfortunately, despite growing adoption of sustainable
development as an explicit policy goal, most countries do not meet both
minimum requirements on either the Footprint or the HDI scale. The good news
is that there are many opportunities to manage and use biocapacity more
effectively, and to invest in human development programmes that move a
country closer to sustainability.
As nations continue to grow and develop, decisions and investments made
today will determine the future wellbeing of our resources and humanity.
For example, infrastructure choices can lock cities and nations into
economically and ecologically risky paths of high resource dependence, or
they can increase their resilience in the face of growing resource
Careful investments in energy systems, transportation, health, education or
urban infrastructure can move countries into a stronger position in the
HDI-Footprint graph (Figure 2), providing higher human development and less
of an ecological deficit. These investments need to be tested for how they
will affect the three sub-indices of the HDI, as well as the country’s
resource dependence. If they generate gains in both arenas, they will
advance human wellbeing that can last.
In a world of growing resource constraints, gains built on liquidating
ecosystems and that put at risk ecological services will be short-lived; the
countries with the least financial means will be the most at risk of
suffering the consequences. On the other hand, nations that develop in ways
that take into account ecological limits – whether they have high or low
incomes – will be the best poised to adapt to resource constraints, and to
provide lasting advances in human development.
For more information, you can contact Mathis Wackernagel via Kristin Kane at
1. Much of the discussion leading up to the COP15 in Copenhagen is focused on the carbon Footprint. Nonetheless, a “carbon plus” view is fundamental if we are to understand the significance of current environmental trends. While the Ecological Footprint wholly contains the carbon Footprint, it takes a more comprehensive approach by tracking a full palette of human demands on the biosphere’s regenerative capacity. Furthermore, it can compare this demand against availability of biocapacity, which the carbon Footprint does not do. With a carbon analysis alone, overall trends – as shown in the example of Tanzania (Figure 1) – would not be visible to the assessment. The carbon Footprint of Tanzania for 2005, for example, was less than 8% of the overall Footprint (or about the thickness of the red line in Figure 1). In a carbon constrained world, we need to know more than the level of carbon emissions; we also need to focus attention on biocapacity trends that could be particularly vulnerable to climate change.
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Also in this issue…
News in Brief
From the DAC initiative on Capacity Development:
CD Learning Platform in Africa.
initiative is working with the Learning Network for Capacity Development (LenCD)
and southern partners (African Capacity Building Foundation [ACBF] and New
Partnership for Africa’s Development [NEPAD]) to set up a Capacity
Development and Learning Platform for Africa. This forum for learning,
exchange of knowledge and resources on capacity development in Africa will
seek to identify current operational “good practice” in the priority areas signalled by the Accra Agenda for Action and to lay the foundation for a
more southern-led effort in Africa. The final design is now approaching
completion and the Platform will be launched soon.
LenCD-DAC joint initiative on good practice for training and
alternative approaches to learning for capacity development. This
newly launched initiative aims to produce a good practice guidance note by
January 2010. This work will be nourished by a one-week learning exchange to
take place in Turin, 7-11 December, and a discussion forum that has been
www.capacity-development.org. Those interested are invited to register
and participate in the discussion.
“Southern Perspectives on Capacity Development” event.
The CD Alliance and the DAC Secretariat will host this special half-day
event, led by CD Alliance co-chair Talaat Abdel Malek, to review partner
country perspectives for the capacity development agenda. The participants
will explore options for preparing themselves to address their
enabling-environment constraints when dealing with the international donor
community. The event will be held at the OECD in Paris on
30 November 2009.
For more information contact James Hradsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Silvia Guizzardi (email@example.com).
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DAC Peer Reviews
Sweden: A leading advocate of increased aid flows
Sweden is providing crucial leadership within the international donor
community. Its aid allocations have exceeded the UN target of 0.7% of GNI
every year since 1975 and reached 0.98% in 2008. Sweden has budgeted for its
aid to reach 1% of its GNI in 2009. This leadership is especially important
in the current climate of global recession when development co-operation
budgets are under pressure.
The DCD Peer Review team has conducted a
the Levels of Decentralisation to the Field in DAC Members' Development
Co-operation Systems. The results of this survey indicate that
all DAC members are attempting to decentralise authority over development
co-operation to the field. The commitment to decentralisation has been
rising since the
Paris Declaration was adopted. This commitment has been expressed in
official policy statements by most members, but the degree of delegation of
authority varies considerably from country to country. In terms of financial
commitments and disbursements, there is also a wide range of authority at
the field level.
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Integrating Climate Change Adaptation into Development Co-operation:
Policy Guidance. The negative impacts of climate change will hit
poor people and poor countries disproportionately, further compromising the
achievement of their development objectives. This publication provides
essential information and advice on how to facilitate the integration of
climate change adaptation into development processes.
Improving Incentives in Donor Agencies (First Edition): Good Practice
and Self-Assessment Tool. Under the Paris Declaration, donors and
partner countries committed to “reform procedures and strengthen incentives
for management and staff to work towards harmonisation, alignment and
results”. This commitment was based on the recognition that the needed
changes will not happen automatically, as there are a number of up-front and
long-term costs. This publication addresses the need for donors and partner
countries to strengthen incentives for their agencies to work toward this
Aid for Trade at a Glance 2009: Maintaining Momentum. This
publication presents the results of the second monitoring exercise of the
Aid-for-Trade Initiative and documents its success so far. It examines
trends and developments, and presents a comprehensive analysis of donor and
partner country engagement.
Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: Employment. This report invites
donors to support more fully developing countries' employment objectives and
to pay more attention to the employment consequences of their aid
expenditures. Based on evidence from developing countries and good practices
in co-operation between donor and partner countries, the report identifies a
number of key areas for action to improve the impact of aid programmes on
Pro-Poor Growth: Social Protection shows that social protection
programmes can be affordable, including in the poorest countries, when they
are well designed and well implemented. But if it is to deliver lasting
benefits, social protection needs strong and long-term political will and
commitment. Donors can help by engaging in long-term partnerships with
partner countries to provide the technical and financial support they need
to underpin their efforts.
Pro-Poor Growth: Employment and Social Protection. This report
contains a Policy Statement “Making Economic Growth More Pro-Poor: The Role
of Employment and Social Protection”, plus two Policy Guidance Notes:
“Employment is the Major Route out of Poverty: How Donors Can Help” and
“Social Protection, Poverty Reduction and Pro-Poor Growth”.
to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: Annual Report 2008.
While many countries are making progress towards achieving the Millennium
Development Goals, others are falling behind. This report provides policy
makers and country offices with a tool to better monitor the levels, timing
and composition of resource flows to fragile states. It aims to contribute
to improving transparency and co-ordination by triggering discussion about
removing the obstacles to more effective resource allocation to these
Service, Contracting Out, and Non-State Networks: Justice and Security as
Public and Private Goods and Services. This report discusses the
balance and relationships among methods of distribution and delivery of
justice and security in the post-colonial fragile state. It offers
recommendations to help the development community support these states in
strengthening the delivery of justice and security to their citizens.
Approaches to Governance Assessments: 2009 Sourcebook. The
recognition of the importance of good governance has grown among donor
agencies and country partners, evolving from narrow concerns about
public-sector management to encompass a broad set of interconnected issues,
including the role of formal and informal institutions, security, human
rights and corruption. This report is intended to help agency staff, partner
country stakeholders and practitioners in conducting and discussing the
governance assessments in which they are actively involved.
and Aid Effectiveness: Key Actions to Improve Inter-Linkages. This
information sheet sets out key actions, agreed by the DAC-GOVNET Human
Rights Task Team, for achieving aid effectiveness with full respect for
human rights. It aims to strengthen synergies in order to improve
International agreements often make reference to mutual accountability. But
what does it really entail, and what does it hope to achieve? This
answers these questions and more.
A series of Issues Briefs examines the connections between
gender equality, women’s empowerment and aid effectiveness. The most
recent Briefs in the series (numbers 4 and 5) focus on managing for gender
equality results. They outline strategies to assist donors and partners in
managing for gender equality.
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