Key messages by African CSO to the 4th High Level Forum on development effectiveness

Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness African CSOs note that to strengthen and deepen the gains already made, the next High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4, 2011) should open a new chapter in the aid architecture that has legitimacy, ensures meaningful inclusion of all development actors especially those from the south. The following are the key messages to various actors:

A) For Governments in Africa

1.    Endorse the democratic ownership principle of development effectiveness

Citizens need to be at the centre of all development programmes and projects. In the 3rd High Level Forum in Accra, the outcome document elaborates country ownership of development policies and programs not simply as government ownership, but as inclusive democratic ownership. Further more democratic ownership also recognizes the importance of citizen organization as full and active participants in all development processes.    African government should thus initiate processes and institutions that mobilises and transforms the voices of the hundreds of million of citizens’ across the continent into meaning and relevant development agenda. Citizens must remain the primary focus for all development in Africa. This should be the new way of doing development.

2. Improve the Operating Environment of CSOs in Africa

Studies now indicate that in many countries across Africa, governments are enacting stringent laws and regulations to manage civil society. Autocracy is becoming a common feature of many national states and democratization deficits are emerging. This has led to strained relationships in some countries and even situations of extreme frustration that have culminated in citizen uprisings. CSO call government to guarantees the participation of CSOs in development processes through an inclusive multistakeholder process where space is provided to support citizens to give their opinion as well, enabling their right to raise grievances and seek redress.

3. Strengthen policy formulation and implementation process

Africa has a reputation for strong policy planning documents not matched by a commensurate level of implementation. At the same time policy making processes is strongly dominated by the executive branch and their development partners. Governments should endeavour to bridge the gaps between policy formulation and implementation using the multistakeholder approach. The implementation of the spirit of the AAA in the policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation should be entrenched at the national level. This would call for strengthening leadership and human capital as well as enhancing participatory processes and building capacity of institutions responsible. Clear mechanisms for accountability, listing of the duties and rights of the different actors in the policy planning and implementation will be key in this regard.

4.    Support domestic accountability

Domestic accountability remain paramount both in the context of aid effectiveness and development effectiveness. While the current focus remains skewed towards donor accountability without mutuality, efforts must be made for accountability to focus towards horizontal accountability. Citizens must be the focus of accountability! Government should build rights based institutions and systems which promote domestic accountability across and among different actors Government should work with all actors to ensure that they build synergies between different mechanisms, both official and non-official, harnessing their respective strengths in this regard. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should be supported by all government and implemented. The APRM provides an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen accountability and spur cross learning process across the continent. This should be harnessed.

5. Recognize and Promote CSO development effectiveness principles

Governments are encouraged to recognize the 8 principles on CSO development effectiveness which call for among other things: Respect and promote human rights and social justice, Embody gender equality and equity while promoting women and girl’s rights, Promote Environmental Sustainability, Pursue equitable partnerships and solidarity and Create and share knowledge and commit to mutual learning

6. Recognize, nurture and promote local philanthropy

African governments should recognize and promote local and domestic philanthropy. Philanthropy is about private resources being put towards public good. We call upon government to recognize these kinds of social functions as important ingredients in developing African towards a continent that is not aid dependant. Necessary fiduciary measures and institutional mechanisms should be created to promote philanthropy across the continent.

7.    Generate and strengthen domestic revenue mobilization

CSOs urge African governments to develop policies that will generate and strengthen domestic revenue mobilization and build a system for sustainable revenue mobilization for the future. Though some countries have seen progress in raising revenue in line with the rising economic of growth over the past few years, the global recession has not only undercut the basis for significant progress in coming years but also caused immediate revenue decline. African governments should therefore identify the means to recoup the revenue losses caused by recession and rectify the underlying weaknesses in tax policy and administration that have retarded progress over recent decades.

B) Key Messages to Donors

1. Accelerate the implementation of the AAA and any other agreed aid architecture

We call upon donors to commit to accelerate and redefine the implementation of the AAA and any agreed aid architecture within a multi-stakeholder framework. We recognize that the AAA had important statements of good intent that should not end with the 4th High Level Forum be promoted beyond Busan. These include but not limited to engagement with all development actors, including recognition of CSOs as development actors in their own right, the centrality of gender equality, human rights and environmental sustainability, the use of country systems, elimination of conditionality, and promotion transparency and mutual accountability.

2. Establish a multi-stakeholder monitoring, evaluation and reporting of the PD Successor

Studies and consultancies in the run up to the 4th High Level Forum including the independent evaluation of the PD and the Monitoring and evaluation survey studies give undue advantage to development partners in the area of knowledge creation. At the same time the participation of various stakeholders is not equitable. Measuring Progress on the PD and AAA require that different there is certain level consensus building that should underpin any new aid and development architecture. Donors should therefore commit to establishing of a multi-stakeholder monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanism to the successor to the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.

3. Commitment to alignment and use of local technical assistance

One of the cornerstone principles of the PD has been using country systems as an important step towards alignment. We call upon donors to use country systems and also ensure that they use local technical assistance as the default option. We welcome the emphasis in the PD on building capacities as an important part of the PD. There is also evidence across Africa that lack of capacity limits progress and hence the abundant use of foreign technical assistance. But the lack of technical capacity in Africa to implement programmes has now become an outdated perception among some donors. We therefore call on donors use local capacity where it exists and in circumstances where it does not work towards building local capacity to level where it is strong or reliable enough to carry the full responsibilities for managing aid.

4. Call to donors to create an enabling environment for CSOs to achieve development effectiveness.

Donors need to commit to better understanding and recognition of the roles of CSOs as development actors and as part of the international aid architecture and create an enabling environment for their operation. Basket funding of CSOs could be a means towards this, but care should be taken that the rights of CSOs to criticize government policies and advocate for issues should not be compromised in the funding allocation process. In this context, the diversity of CSOs should be recognized, respected and promoted.

5. Call to donors to recommit to the 0.7% of their GNP to Aid

First pledged 35 years ago in a 1970 General Assembly Resolution, the 0.7 % target has been affirmed in many international agreements over the years. The UN target of giving at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Income as aid has not been met. If all Donors committed to 0.7 % target, it would lead to enough resources to meet the all Millennium Development Goals. CSOs recognize the challenges towards achieving these target but we note that this is an important indicator of commitment towards building an equitable world.

6.    Emerging Donors should not undercut standards that promote sustainable development

African countries now have a wider range of financing options from different countries including those from the South. They must however ensure that the financing does not prejudice African government’s debt situation through inappropriate terms and non transparent conditions borrowing. Principles of transparency and respect of universally accepted human right standards, environmental regulations and decent working conditions and wages should be promoted. CSO call upon DAC members to build and develop constructive dialogue with other ‘emerging’ bilateral donors. This should be done in a spirit of sharing best practices and a commitment of all to the Millennium Development Goals.

C) Key Messages to other Actors such as Private Sector, Foundations and Global Funds

1.    Foundations should play a greater role in searching for new solutions and innovations that work in the delivery of aid

Foundations have been instrumental partners in many parts of Africa. Foundations have a unique position and their strengths lie in their freedom from external political and economic constraints and their freedom to invest their funds where they are needed most. Foundations also possess ‘convening’ power and on the continent are able to bring decision makers together to deliberate important development questions with prejudice. We call upon foundations to take play a stronger role in searching for new solutions and innovations that work in the delivery of aid while aligning these to country priorities and policies.

2. Private sector interventions to be informed by people centred and rights based approaches

Private sector actors are important players both in the delivery of development and as contractors. In many African countries there are several challenges that have emerged from a policy stance that have moved governments out of markets leaving the private sector as the main players. However, lessons from the global financial crisis show that capital unregulated is brutal and muddled with corruption. Questions on business morality are being asked. CSO in Africa demand that all private sector actors should recognize that the pursuit of private profit is not the prime reason for existence. Private sector should recognize that they are part of the global system and intervene in a manner that recognizes that human rights are part of a universal value system, against which all their intervention in development is measured.

3.    Global funds should work to uphold country ownership and become more recipient driven

There has been a growth in Global funds in the recent past especially in sectors like health, HIV/AIDS, primary education, environment. Global funds have become major channels for donor funding, particularly in Africa where deficits in these sectors are glaring. There are many good reasons given to start global funds, one of them being achieving results quickly. Many global funds have diverse governance and operational frameworks and are committed to engaging in aid effectiveness practices. However, in African countries, many the global funds are not fully country owned and is still driven most by their secretariats rather than country governments. The issues they deal with are those that are found in the weakest and most vulnerable countries where sometimes the states are weak. Global funds should find systems of ensuring that they respond to these particularities without creating ‘donor orphans’ and ‘donor-darlings’ on the continent.

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