Since 2005, the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) has formulated an aid delivery model also known as the Paris Declaration of 2005. Ministers of developed and developing countries responsible for promoting development and Heads of Multi-lateral and bi-lateral development institutions met in Paris for this declaration and resolved to take far reaching and monitarable actions they deliver and manage aid. More than a statement of general principles, the Paris declaration lays down, a practical, action oriented road map to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. The 56 partnership commitments are organized around the key principles such as ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, and mutual accountability.
In this regard, a two day Multi-stakeholder national consultation workshop on the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and the role of CSOs in a more affective aid regime was held in Colombo, recently. It was organized by the Green Movement of Sri Lanka with the support from the Reality of Aid Network, Asia and in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and Planning.
During the last session of the two day workshop, Dr. Mala Liyanage talked of Civil Society and aid effectiveness. As she mentioned a shift has been taking place in the international aid environment to increase the effectiveness of aid as well as the volume. Here new players are entering the field. The traditional players are IFI, Bi-laterals, private donors (both national and international). Basing on the key features of the Paris Declaration she further said that National ownership has made more progress than in the other areas. There is about 65% of alignment with national systems and processes. She noted very little harmonization among donors of donor practices, and nothing has been done with regard to mutual accountability for results. Management for development results are being implemented by MPI. With regard to the role of CSOs she encouraged alignment with national planning with resource allocation processes, especially at the district, and community level, and also meaningful participation at the policy making and resource allocation level. Also she noted on issues and challenges of CSOs as lack of trust and must thrive to improve credibility. They should engage with government, and demand the building of National capacities.
Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion Minister Amunugama in his speech, mentioned his special relationship with the Paris Declaration as Finance minister. For him the word "Aid" is not fashionable, but donors to be named as Development Planners. The minister noted on the role of traditional donors of the West such as UK, US and Japan and also some development plans and aid of other donors such as China, who contributed for the coal power plant at Norochcholai, and Hambantota Port and the new donor Iran, in development project of Uma Oya, as well as Denmark, Austria and India who have contributed in revamping the Railway. Further speaking, the minister said that Sri Lanka is very well situated in the MDG (Millennium Development Goal) especially pertaining to Universal Literacy. But he further said that the education quality has to be enhanced. In elaborating this he said that not even 10% of our schools have science stream.
He concluded the presentation with a statement of an American President John F. Kennedy i.e. " I want to make this world safe for diversity" and told the gathering that this is the role that NGOs and CSOs have to play in our country, amidst of all turmoil and conflicts.
The session ended with a talk given on the compliance of the IFIs with the Paris Declaration by Ms. Naoko Ishi, the Country Director World Bank.
Sri Lanka is heavily dependent on aid. But we know that the model for aid delivery and its practical, positive impact on the citizens of the country has been marginal. Sri Lankan citizens are now groaning under a massive debt burden. Sri Lanka has a Debt burden of 9.8 billion dollars 85.5% of which is public sector debt and which translates into the fact that every single man, woman and child alive in Sri Lanka is carrying a debt of Rs.66,000 of which over 90% of the debt is for failed projects that have destroyed entire areas and communities. This means five months income for every individual including those who are unable to earn.
This is a terrible situation and although the Paris declaration is a star towards change, there are many components of the declaration that have to be tightened up for it to be effective.