Moving forward for Egypt’s development


By Ashraf El-Araby, Egyptian Minister of Planning, Follow-up, and Administrative Reform

In less than three years Egypt has witnessed two revolutions. Masses took to the streets in January 2011 and again on 30 June, 2013, demanding a better, more democratic future. Our transitional period has not been easy, but we continue to take steady steps towards democracy. The amended Constitution was approved earlier this year, President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi was recently sworn in as the new Egyptian President, and soon Egyptians will visit the ballot box once again to elect their new parliament. Yet, despite the positive developments witnessed after the January Revolution, it is no secret that the political instability delivered a strong blow to the economy and the development process.

Economic development in the past decades has led to Egypt’s graduation to the status of a middle-income country. Yet, like other countries that fall in the lower bracket of this middle-income group, we continue to suffer high levels of poverty, unemployment, among many other development challenges. Despite the relatively high growth rates witnessed in Egypt in the years preceding the 2011 revolution – reaching a high of 7% and an average of 5.6% from 2007 to 2010 – social indicators were steadily worsening. Unfortunately, the high levels of economic growth have not been equitable. There were and still are great disparities among the Egyptian population. The economic downturn following the 2011 revolution further complicated the economic reality and, sadly, the most vulnerable segments of society were hit the hardest.

In an effort to counter this deterioration, and in response to the main demand of the Egyptian people, social justice, the government has been actively shifting its policies towards inclusiveness since January 2011. The new Strategic Framework for Economic and Social Development 2012-2022, which guides all our planning efforts, is based on the principle of inclusiveness. The Framework itself was inclusively designed through a series of public and societal dialogues with different stakeholders, with notable participation from the private sector and civil society. It is worth highlighting that the Framework, which was designed by the Ministry of Planning in co-operation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), also incorporates the principles of effective development co-operation. It includes clear guidelines to: firstly, set a strong Monitoring and Evaluation scheme in key ministries; secondly, improve domestic accountability; thirdly, support the engagement of the private sector and civil society as partners in development; and fourthly, reinforce Egypt’s South-South co-operation.

We are proud to continue striving to realise our development goals despite the many impediments. The challenges are huge, and the aspirations are even higher, and the Government certainly needs to work in tandem with all its development partners to succeed. We co-ordinate with our national partners from the civil society and private sector. We also work closely with the international community in order to speed up our development process.

The Egyptian Government has been an active player in the aid effectiveness dialogue, participating in Paris, Accra and Busan high-level fora. We supported the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda, and the Busan Partnership, and we joined the international development community in Mexico in April 2014 to reaffirm our support to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. We also took part in the Paris monitoring surveys, and more recently the Global Partnership monitoring survey. While there is more work yet to be accomplished, the surveys nevertheless showed progress in adhering to the principles of aid effectiveness. We believe that development co-operation is a two-way street, and we are working hard to improve different areas of aid management.

To consolidate its efforts on this front, the Egyptian Government, in co-operation with its development partners, drafted the Cairo Agenda for Action. The Agenda was drafted after Accra in an effort to translate aid effectiveness principles into policies. The Ministry of International Co-operation is currently pursuing the Agenda and plans to update it in light of recent developments.

For more than 40 years we have worked hand in hand with our partners in the international community to better the livelihoods of Egyptian citizens. In order to move ahead we need not only the serious engagement of all national stakeholders, but also the support of our development partners.

20140415_110302 - Copy (1)Ashraf El-Araby is former Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation. He headed the Egyptian delegation to the first High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which took place in Mexico City, Mexico, on 15-16 April, 2014. Dr. El-Araby is currently the Egyptian Minister of Planning, Follow-up, and Administrative Reform.

Why open data matters for sustainable development post-2015


By Rachel Rank, Deputy Director of Publish What You Fund

Earlier this month, we launched our new campaign Road to 2015: Open Data for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Headquarters.

As with all the work we do, transparency and accountability are at the heart of this new campaign. They also feature heavily in the principles of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

But while we’ve spoken a fair bit about our expectations for the Global Partnership, this was the first campaign we have launched at the UN. We did so because it was there that, earlier this year, a panel of world leaders proposed a highly anticipated framework for stamping out extreme poverty by 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The recommendations are a dramatic shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of 2015. They call for a ‘data and information revolution’ and put transparency and accountability at the heart of this new framework.

A lot has changed since the MDGs were agreed. We have faced a global financial crisis and increasing political instability. This has made transparency, public accountability and citizen engagement in the post-2015 agenda even more critical. Poor economic growth is a reason to prioritise transparent and accountable financing for sustainable development.

The world of development finance is also changing. Top-down development, with donors telling recipients what to do, is twentieth-century thinking. We are at a critical point in the push for open data.

pwyfquoteOpen data has the power to reduce corruption, improve decision-making and the allocation of resources, empower citizens and support good governance – all prerequisites for encouraging local ownership and responsibility and, ultimately, sustainable development.

Partner countries are better equipped now, more than ever, to take full ownership of their development agenda. They have asked for more information about development co-operation spending so they can better manage their own resources, and ensure the delivery of results.

Our Road to 2015 campaign will ensure that the focus on transparency remains throughout the new agenda-setting process. We believe this process should start with better information about aid for two reasons.

Firstly, the new goals will be global targets. Responsibility for delivery lies with every nation (as well as with the collective global community), not just with governments of developing countries. It is essential that aid providers — both bilateral and multilateral — practice what they preach in terms of good governance, transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

Secondly, there is already a precedent for transparent publication of aid data, in the form of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). This is the only existing system for making current information about aid easily accessible to everyone, in a comparable format that is free to access, use and re-use.

At the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011 the international development community, including the world’s largest donors, promised to fully implement by December 2015 a common standard for publishing aid information, which includes IATI and OECD-DAC reporting systems. While some are now publishing this data, efforts remain uneven.

IATI is the only standard that satisfies our four pillars of transparent aid, ensuring data is published in a manner that is timely, comprehensive, accessible and comparable. These aspects are all crucial, as only then can donor aid spending be mapped and properly aligned with the partner country’s domestic budget.

Access to information can potentially transform the relationship not only between citizens and governments, but also between donors and recipients. Open data has the power to reduce corruption, improve decision-making and the allocation of resources, empower citizens and support good governance – all prerequisites for encouraging local ownership and responsibility and, ultimately, sustainable development.

Making aid more effective is a crucial part of the UN’s goal to end extreme poverty by 2030, as is good governance and the data and information revolution. As debates on the next set of SDGs and the role of the Global Partnership come to a head, transparency must be an essential part of all goals, giving citizens more information and more say in their own lives.

The Road to 2015 must be paved with open data, not just good intentions.

RankbioRachel Rank is Deputy Director of Publish What You Fund, the Global Campaign for Aid Transparency. Her role includes developing and managing our research and monitoring products, particularly the annual Aid Transparency Index, and establishing partnerships with other organisations focusing on transparency, accountability and access to information.

If development were soccer


By Rakesh Rajani, Twaweza

If there were a prize for global organisations most at risk of corruption, FIFA, the International Federation of Football (Soccer) Association, could be a contender.

In several respects, FIFA’s inside dealing and lack of transparency is reminiscent of the poor governance of many developing countries. For some countries, this is associated with malaise and dysfunction, misuse of public resources, poor public service delivery, and entrenched inequities. But the state of soccer, far from being a basket case, is vibrant and thriving.

Look at the excitement among billions of people all over the world tuning in to the World Cup 2014. Walk through East Africa’s bustling communities on weekends, and you will likely see animated people listening to the beautiful game. You can see much of the same across large parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Why does soccer work? Why, unlike so many badly governed public agencies, NGOs, and projects, is soccer so powerful, lively, and engaging?

Might it provide useful insights for how we think about development in countries where the intractable problems of supra-governance will not be sorted out soon? Soccer and development, while very different, have several features in common.

Both have purposes or goals to score. Both need someone deciding whether conduct is right, imposing sanctions for foul behavior, and judging the final outcome. And both need a diverse set of actors who need to be motivated and work together to deliver.

But each handles these features very differently.

twawezaSoccer as a metaphor for international development may seem frivolous, except that the features that make the game work may be essential to motivating and realizing success in development.

Focus on goals

All soccer players focus clearly on goals. In development, there are also goals and purposes. While some are clearer than others, too many initiatives suffer from three kinds of problems. First, they try to do too many things at once. When an organisation does this, it tends to get distracted, pulled in too many directions, and energy and focus dissipate. Ultimately, it fails to reach important goals in any meaningful sense.

I have seen this in Tanzania’s education sector, for example, where programmes have tried to initiate reforms with teachers and books and infrastructure and curriculum and pedagogy and examinations and finances and governance and gender and HIV/AIDS and environment, all at the same time.

Second, because achieving goals can take time and require several steps, there is a tendency to develop many interim markers of progress. Keeping track of these intended signposts toward ultimate goals can become so time-consuming that one loses sight of the goals themselves. This would be the equivalent, in soccer, of players focusing so much on counting the number of passes, height of their headers, speed of their runs and the like, that no one remembers the score.

Third, incentives are not aligned to reward development success. The health worker who toils nine hours a day delivering quality care is likely paid the same as an absent and discourteous colleague. And whether a project gets renewed, or a ministry receives more budget, or a country receives more aid is determined largely by factors other than its track record of attaining goals. Ideas such as the Centre for Global Development’s Cash on Delivery, a version of which we are testing in Tanzania to improve learning outcomes, need more attention from development partners.

Soccer is Radically Transparent

Assessments of outcomes don’t get fudged in soccer, in part due to the clarity of goals and rules, as well as the independence of the referees. Assessment is also clear because the game is radically transparent and played out in the open. This means that everyone can have an informed opinion about the game. There’s increasing opportunity to voice those opinions – be it on the manager’s strategy, players’ performance, referees’ calls, or fans’ behavior— through social media and traditional media. Players and managers know they need to do well and to play it right. This sort of deep public transparency fosters accountability like nothing else.

The field of development is also moving toward greater transparency, aided by technologies that make it easier to collect, store, analyse, visualise, and share data; and by pressure of citizens from India to Sierra Leone to Brazil, demanding their right to know. For example, on the issue of transparency, the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral effort run equally by government and civil society, which now involves 64 countries, is a powerful new platform to do some of the things soccer does best. By joining, each member country is nudged to advance the frontiers of transparency and report on progress on an annual basis, which is subject to independent review. While there are challenges, the OGP is enabling reformers worldwide to learn from each other, and to innovate, collaborate and solve problems. In the process government is slowly being reinvented to work better for people.

Soccer’s vitality derives from the clarity of its regulatory framework; clear alignment of goals, success, and incentives; and the open nature of its play. Soccer as a metaphor for international development may seem frivolous, except that the features that make the game work may be essential to motivating and realizing success in development.

Perhaps, when it comes to solving complex challenges in governance and development, play may be just the verb we need.

As with soccer, getting a few key things right about the core aspects of development may matter more than sorting out the intransigence of its supra governance. For a great game of soccer, and possibly for development, everyday governance and incentives writ small matter more than the election of officials who hand out the trophies. Observe the young people who play soccer every day, how they think, how they make their moves, how they make the game flow. Observe the intensity and delight in their play. You will know that they’ve got something deeply right.

RR mugshotRakesh Rajani is the founder and head of Twaweza in East Africa and the civil society chair of the Open Government Partnership.

This post is based on an essay that first appeared as part of USAID’s Frontiers in Development series. Read the original here.

Triangular co-operation and knowledge-sharing: a view from Italy

Population Explosion - The Concern of All Nations

By Lapo Pistelli, Italian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs


In a world of multipolar growth, there is no longer room for a “one size fits all” model of development. New forms such as triangular co-operation offer significant opportunities to promote both mutual learning on development experiences and to maximise resources, capacities and knowledge.

Triangular co-operation promotes the engagement of new development actors and donors. This is crucial as the international community is in the process of defining a new global development agenda. The traditional distinctions and labels such as “donors-beneficiaries” or “North-South” co-opertation will no longer be as relevant as before in consideration of the diverse challenges all countries are facing. Partnership, common responsibility and mutual benefit are now key concepts for the development community.

In this framework, knowledge sharing across a broad spectrum of stakeholders is critical for laying and strengthening the foundations for endogenous capacity development. It is essential to foster mutually beneficial learning and to enhance local ownership and leadership. Triangular co-operation can promote knowledge sharing and enable new types of horizontal partnerships between “developed” and “developing” countries, creating “win-win-win” situations. These co-ordinated actions are of tremendous benefit, helping trigger the sharing of resources, competences and specific know-how, in line with aid effectiveness principles.

Field Coverage: BrazilWorking on a programme along with several partners with different financial and organisational mechanisms is not always easy. However, we believe that this kind of co-operation helps to share and disseminate best practices.

Italian Development Co-operation actively supports triangular co-operation initiatives. One clear example is Amazonia Sem fogo” (Amazon Rainforest Without Fire) programme, addressing the persistently problematic use of fire in livestock and agriculture in the Amazon region. The programmeaims to reduce deforestation through the development of alternative means to the use of fire in agriculture, thus contributing to the protection of the environment and the improvement of the living conditions of the rural communities.

After the successful experience of the bilateral programme from 1999 to 2009in Brazil, the Italian Government along with the Government of Brazil agreed with La Paz to replicate the programme from 2012 in Bolivia. The programme has strong training and capacity building components, and knowledge sharing is an essential element. The methodologies and systems developed in Brazil are now replicated in Bolivia. Brazilian Ministry of Environment officers and technicians who took part in the implementation of the programme in their country are training their fellow colleagues and farmers in Bolivia. Such co-operation between Italy and Brazil will now be extended to Ecuador: “Amazonia sin fuego” is currently in its activation phase.

Working on a programme along with several partners with different financial and organisational mechanisms is not always easy. However, we believe that this kind of co-operation helps to share and disseminate best practices. This is done by engaging partners in research for shared solutions to common problems and by promoting inclusive and sustainable models of development.

This same spirit is at the core of Expo Milan 2015 with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.  There are now 147 official participants registered and millions of visitors are expected. All of this will coincide with the negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Expo Milan thus represents a unique chance to contribute to the global debate on sustainability as well as food and nutrition security. It is an opportunity to share best development practices. It will be a platform for mutual learning and for building new partnerships among different actors on key issues of global development.

South-South and triangular co-operation can have a key role in achieving sustainable development in the framework of the Post-2015 Agenda. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation could be the right platform for encouraging networks for experience and knowledge sharing in order to improve and strengthen development policies and practices.

Pistelli_54381_mediumLapo Pistelli is Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and member of the Italian Parliament, elected in 2013 for the Italian Democratic Party. He was a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1996-2004, and a member of the European Parliament from 2004-2008 where he served as both Head of the Italian Delegation and as a member of the committees for Foreign Affairs, and for Financial and Economic Affairs. In the Italian Democratic Party, he is the Head of the Foreign Affairs and International Relations Department.

Philanthropy and development – A new paradigm?  


By Clare Woodcraft-Scott, Emirates Foundation

Philanthropy is changing. Not in any radical or revolutionary way, but slowly, oil-tanker style. It is moving at a slow but steady pace, creating new structural trends, a new appreciation of learning through failure and a healthy opening up to the idea of collaboration. Some might call it a paradigm shift.

Previously, foundations generally implemented time-bound, short-term projects, limited to a 12, 18 or 24 month timeframe, but today’s philanthropists are thinking much more systemically. The lexicon is changing as talk of long-term social investment programmes and inter-generational change gains traction. The difficulty of creating sustainable social value through short-term interventions is being recognised.

Where once foundations took a ‘spray and pray’ or ‘scatter-gun’ approach disbursing multiple short-term grants to multiple third parties in multiple different sectors, today they increasingly focus. Historically, when the remit of foundations grew, too often it diluted their impact. Today, foundations are much more targeted and in some cases focusing on just a single issue with a view to eradicating it permanently, rather than simply mitigating it temporarily.

Our model at Emirates Foundation is a case in point. From working with multiple different categories of beneficiaries and multiple themes with a large grant making portfolio, we now work on only one area – youth development. Moreover, rather than issue hundreds of grants each year to multiple third parties, we now run and manage our own programmes in-house.

While grant making is still the norm, new financial instruments and new operational models are emerging. Social impact bonds are being watched closely by governments, social investors and even conventional ones. These performance-based investments pay out when successful social outcomes result in public sector savings. They are driving a new way of thinking about how social finance should be structured.

Emirates2jpgWith our new operational Venture Philanthropy model, where we focus on only one area, we are already seeing a difference in terms of measurable outputs – over 40,000 youth in the UAE have been impacted by our programmes.

While often rightly reiterating the criticality of grants, foundations are now also looking at loan guarantees, debt and equity. As the world’s ‘wicked problems’ persist in their intractability, new financial instruments are needed to help scale up solutions. Community-specific innovation is not enough. The world needs large-scale initiatives to address large-scale problems. Extreme poverty still affects over one billion people on the planet despite over ten years of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Measurement is also coming to the fore. In the past, foundations tended to track inputs – the number of grants processed, the number of projects completed and the total spend. Today, they increasingly look at outputs and outcomes. What was the real impact of their efforts and did it last? Impact investors go further, demanding a tangible social (and often financial) return on their investments, forcing philanthropists to focus on real value creation rather than simply delivery and execution.

New entrepreneurial ways of thinking are giving rise to new mechanisms of delivery with social enterprises at the fore. This hybrid model combines business principles such as efficiency, accountability and value creation with the traditional focus of social organisations. Social enterprise is also capturing the imagination of younger philanthropists disillusioned with the pure profit mantra of big business but convinced that philanthropy should be more results-driven and more transparent.

Where once money was a key component, philanthropists now look to combine financial resources with technical ones. Many foundations are now very ‘hands-on’ in terms of delivery and much less comfortable with a transactional ‘cheque-writing’ model. Traditional dependence on single donors is being replaced by a drive for financial viability as a critical component of achieving long-term sustainable results.

Where previously foundations may have kept their internal learning a closely guarded secret, today they are more inclined to share knowledge and insights. Logical frameworks and ongoing comprehensive evaluation are now seen as critical tools of improving internal learning and performance management. Foundations once averse to sharing ‘failure’ are now embracing it as a means of building capacity and credibility among investors, as a sign of track record and experience.

These trends have not yet been institutionalised across the sector but are more and more prevalent in its literature, networks and events. Emirates Foundation’s annual philanthropy summit was dedicated entirely to this topic last year, themed ‘Philanthropy in Transition’. The OECD-hosted foundation network, NetFWD recently published a report reiterating these points. Entitled Venture Philanthropy In Development: Dynamics, Challenges And Lessons In The Search For Greater Impact,the report documents the transition of four global foundations (Rockefeller, Shell, Lundin and Emirates) from traditional philanthropy to Venture Philanthropy (also known as Strategic, Catalytic, or Enterprise-based Philanthropy). All four changed their business model with a view to deploying philanthropic capital more efficiently and creating more measureable social value.

Not all are convinced of the new direction. Some traditionalists still challenge the idea of applying business acumen to creating social value. Even Boards are sometimes averse to applying the same principles of effectiveness and efficiency to a foundation that they would to a commercial entity. Such reticence continues to stymie the performance of the sector, allowing foundations to continue to report input rather than output and to gloss over things that didn’t work. However, the tide is turning as more and more philanthropists look for new models and new ways of delivering more impact and recognise that learning through failure is a powerful tool for driving greater accountability.

At Emirates Foundation we publicly acknowledge that the sheer size and diversity of our earlier portfolio was significantly diluting our impact and ability to create sustainable outcomes. With our new operational Venture Philanthropy model, where we focus on only one area, we are already seeing a difference in terms of measurable outputs – over 40,000 youth in the UAE have been impacted by our programmes.

Accountability and transparency lie at the heart of this new sectoral change. A step-change in both is moving philanthropy very much in line with global trends and the global demands of a twenty-first century where connectivity and a digital revolution kill opacity. It could also render the social impact of philanthropy much greater and more sustainable. Ultimately, foundations have a significant and growing potential to make a very strong contribution to some of the world’s most pressing social challenges. The sheer size of the philanthropic capital market means it can’t be ignored. With a new philanthropic paradigm that embraces efficiency and openness, perhaps emulated to some extent by the formal development sector itself, the MDGs and their reinvention, the Sustainable Development Goals that will replace them in 2015, might seem much easier to achieve.

Clare Woodcraft_0087 Crop A

Clare Woodcraft-Scott is CEO of Emirates Foundation and oversaw its transition from grant-making to venture philanthropy. She has 20 years’ experience in sustainable socio-economic development as a practitioner, journalist and corporate executive. She was formerly Deputy Director of Shell Foundation which invests in social enterprises and earlier ran Shell’s social investment portfolio in the Middle East and North Africa. She previously headed Visa International’s public affairs in emerging markets and worked in Palestine for various development agencies.


Images used courtesy of the Emirates Foundation.

Data Revolution – The fulcrum for delivering the development effectiveness agenda



By Vitalice Meja, Reality of Aid Africa Network

Real access to and use of data is crucial for development co-operation, and for the billions of people whom this co-operation aims to benefit. For development co-operation stakeholders, real access to data allows for transparency as well as better planning, targeting and review. For beneficiaries, real access enables ownership and accountability, while strengthening participation. As we deepen the implementation of the four key Busan principles, we must have a revolution in both access to and use of data in our development co-operation. Good data is essential in order to involve all people interested in delivering development results. It is also vital in enhancing transparency and accountability.

However, we must realise that this will not be a one-off exercise. It will not be achievable at the flick of a switch. It is going to take a lot of hard work, exercising political will and leadership for institutional and legal reforms, capacity building, and behavioural change.

Efforts towards a data revolution are underway and encouraging. Global and national initiatives have attracted development providers and recipients alike, improving access to information. The International Aid Transparency Initiative is working on the global front, while several initiatives such as Kenya’s e-ProMIS exemplify national efforts. However we must observe that neither global nor national initiatives have attracted all relevant players. IATI remains a coalition of the willing, while national governments struggle to get their development partners, including South–South partners, to supply correct and timely data. More positively, we can see that there are systems out there that can improve data access both at the global and national levels.

MejaQuoteData use should not lead to ‘business as usual’. It must bring about a total behavioural change in addressing the real needs of the people as well as leading to a better enabling environment for civil society initiatives.

Despite having systems to improve data access, bureaucratic procedures and political considerations still pose challenges to providing timely information. Lots of data supplied to the recipient country are not only outdated, but sometimes inconsistent with the information held by the provider country’s headquarters. This affects analysis and programming. Furthermore, few development partners are able to provide forward-looking data, making it impossible for actors in the recipient country to plan.  Furthermore recipient Governments have increasingly failed to capture adequately ODA flows in their national budget as well as their medium term planning instruments thereby compromising the integrity of these planning instruments as the data is never quite forthcoming in a timely manner. For civil society organisations, this problem is compounded by the technical nature of the data, as well as by the political considerations of recipient governments before releasing such information to the public. Data access seems to be a preserve of the executives and not the general public and the codification of such information reflects this mindset.  The view is that such information may be too politically sensitive to release to the public.

To combat this, we must invest heavily in the infrastructure and institutional frameworks necessary for the data revolution to take effect. Institutions must be capable of receiving, reviewing and processing data in a timely and effective manner. They must also be able to ensure the accessibility of this data to all who may need it. We must address the legal and regulatory impediments that impinge upon access to information.

Governments must also be willing to receive and process various forms of information from various stakeholders, including data beyond financial flows. For example, data from civil society on any negative impact of development programmes on communities, violations of human rights and abuse cases, domestic and sexual violence against women also need to be accommodated in the new data revolution.

While access remains key, data use is also important. The data revolution will have reached its objective when it has increased democratic ownership, strengthened partnerships and led to better development results. In this regard, we must build the analytical capacity of the institutions receiving data. This will not only require the technical aspects of capacity building but also human and financial resources. For millions of citizens around the world, data usage only becomes relevant when it empowers them to hold governments to account and to claim their own rights from the relevant institutions. Data use should not lead to ‘business as usual’. It must bring about a total behavioural change in addressing the real needs of the people as well as leading to a better enabling environment for civil society initiatives.

MejaBioVitalice Meja is a development policy analysis specialist in the areas of development cooperation, economic development, poverty reduction policies and microfinance as it relates to NGOs, government and intergovernmental organisations.He co-ordinates the Reality of Aid Africa Network – a pan-African network working on poverty eradication through effective development co-operation.

Why do parliaments matter to development effectiveness?


By Jeff Balch, Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa

When development discussions refer to ‘governments’, 99 times out of 100 they mean the executive branch and ignore the legislative branch as if it didn’t exist.

Yet it is parliaments that make the laws and pass the budgets that make development happen. And, without sufficient oversight of executive branch expenditures of development funding– including from domestic and foreign sources – it is virtually assured that corruption and leakage will detract from achieving development objectives and value for money. Parliaments are the only democratic institutions with the constitutional mandate to hold governments to account. To work effectively, parliamentarians must be empowered to give inclusive voice to the needs and concerns of the people who voted them into power. This is not a given.

What challenges do parliaments face?

Parliaments are countervailing powers to their governments’ executive branches if they have oversight capacity. But in the developing world, parliamentary institutions are the political underdogs in an executive-dominated landscape. They are also chronically under-staffed and ill-informed. More often than not, they are sorely under-resourced and vital research and other capacity is often in short supply. To make matters worse, although civil society in mature democracies is accustomed to reproaching parliaments to do better on development, developing countries’ local and foreign-based civil society groups tend to ignore opportunities for parliamentary interactions. What’s more, they are frequently isolated from international development debates.

Is investing in oversight capacity vital to effective development?

Development efforts are more likely to meet their targets when parliaments engage effectively in the budget process, both for budget formulation and to oversee executive (and donor) expenditures. But we cannot always count on government executives to provide sufficient resources and support for parliaments’ proper oversight of their performance. That is why parliaments in emerging democracies look to the donor community for support, as do civil society organisations. Donors tend to shy away from supporting legislatures to be “development watchdogs”, offering around ten times less support to them than to civil society organisations. However, bypassing parliaments because of their weakness only further weakens their capacity. We should be developing it. A strong parliament can help manage and prevent conflicts by representing citizens inclusively and affecting income redistribution to address inequalities and reduce extreme poverty.

BalchquoteWithout sufficient oversight of executive branch expenditures of development funding – it is virtually assured that corruption and leakage will detract from achieving development objectives and value for money.

How can donors encourage parliamentary inclusion in aid structures? 

Parliaments should be invited to participate in all development dialogues at country and regional levels. Country-level donor-partner meetings, debates, surveys, and plans should include all relevant parliamentary decision-makers. Development-related committees’ Chairpersons or representatives should especially be included.

Donor countries’ parliamentary stakeholders are also of increasing yet often unrecognised importance. Not only do they vote more freely to support Official Development Assistance (ODA) when they have first-hand knowledge of its achievements, but they are increasingly finding time and money to partner with parliamentary colleagues in other countries to ensure proper oversight of ODA and other expenditures. They are maximizing opportunities for reaching better policy coherence for development effectiveness.

What should the Global Partnership do to meet commitments on parliaments?

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation is mandated to monitor implementation of the commitments made to the various stakeholders in the landmark Paris (2005), Accra (2008) and Busan (2011) documents. However, the implementation of commitments made regarding parliaments is not monitored at present. Indicator 6 is intended to measure ODA recorded in annual budgets that are subject to parliamentary scrutiny. But while aid quantities are measured, the quality of parliamentary oversight is not. An indicator is needed to monitor parliamentary engagement in country-level budget processes. Associated with this, there should be an ODA category to record funding going to strengthen parliaments, as there already is for civil society. Lastly, all mutual accountability frameworks should by default include parliamentary representatives.

A number of parliamentary stakeholders who attended the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s High-Level Meeting in Mexico City expressed frustration at not getting their messages across, and disappointment at the missed opportunity to build bridges to other stakeholder groups. They attributed this issue among CSO and private sector representatives, for example, to a concern for consolidating ties with the executive branch of government rather than marginalised parliamentary actors.



BalchbioDr. Jeff Balch is Director of Research and Evaluation at AWEPA, the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa, where he has worked since 1987. He is responsible for multi-lateral and thematic programming, which encompasses partnerships with African regional and national parliaments and promotes parliamentary competence in such areas as the MDGs, development effectiveness, gender equality and budget oversight. He participates in the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, and is a member of the European Evaluation Society.


We need better measures of the strength of country systems


By Jordan Holt, Coordinator of the Indicators of the Strength of Public Management Systems (ISPMS) project


Most would agree that 1) strong country systems, like systems for procurement, budgeting, auditing, tax administration, and human resource management, are necessary for sustainable development and 2) effective aid means investing in reforms that have impact. Unfortunately, in the area of governance and public sector management, we know very little about what types of reform lead to stronger country systems and connect to the development outcomes we desire. The iChallenge aims to change this.

There is wide recognition that national institutions (or country systems) matter for development, with several convincing empirical studies demonstrating that countries with better governance have higher per capita incomes and stronger growth. However, we have a hard time unpacking this aggregate information to understand how particular aspects of government operations lead to growth, poverty reduction and shared prosperity. In other words, the composite indicators of “government effectiveness” or “government quality” used in these empirical studies provide little actionable information about the strength of institutions, or public management systems, in a country. This lack of actionable information is arguably affecting the success of reform efforts; several recent reviews of World Bank projects, for example, have concluded that project effectiveness could be improved with a better set of metrics.




The iChallenge runs through July 1, 2014. Join the conversation at

Why don’t we have the information we need to monitor and evaluate the results of governance reform? Well, measurement is hard. Many countries are only just now implementing information systems that can track key aspects of performance. Many behaviours are difficult for even experts to observe.

The good news is that while measurement is hard, it’s not impossible. Recent strides have been made in public financial management (for example with PEFA) and tax (TADAT) to develop rich indicator sets that can be applied to countries around the world. These tools measure the strengths and weaknesses and actual functioning of national institutions in a way that can help us diagnose problems, plan responses, and track results — helping us achieve our ultimate goal of making development co-operation more effective.

While these indicator sets are an important start, there are still a lot of gaps in measurement. We don’t know much about the strength of public administration and civil service systems, for example, and many of the indicators we do have are based on the views of experts rather than data collected and maintained by countries themselves. Many indicators still focus on legal and institutional frameworks rather than the functioning, outputs or outcomes of public management systems. In addition, there have been at least as many failed attempts to develop indicators as there have been successes, with considerable resources expended without commiserate results.

The iChallenge aims to address these issues and push the conversation forward on what should be measured and how it should be measured. Launched at the High-level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation and sponsored by the Effective Institutions Platform, the World Bank, and other partners, the iChallenge crowdsources ideas for indicators that can be used to measure the strength of public management systems like procurement, tax, public financial management, public administration/civil service. Anyone is allowed to participate in the iChallenge, including practitioners from governments, NGOs, the private sector, or donor organizations; academics and researchers; or general members of the public (all participants must be over 18 years old). Participants can share ideas for indicators that have been used successfully before, or those that they would like to see collected. The goal is to both learn from what others are already doing and gather creative ideas for entirely new measures.

The iChallenge runs through July 1, 2014. Join the conversation at

Jordan Holt2Jordan Holt is the Coordinator of the Indicators of the Strength of Public Management Systems (ISPMS) project, which is conducted by the World Bank with a wide variety of partners. ISPMS aims to identify and build consensus around a set of indicators that can be used to measure the “health” of a country’s government. It is one of five main areas of work under the Effective Institutions Platform.

The Roadmap to a Fair Living Wage  


By Anna Palmqvist, Head of Sustainability Production, H&M

Global buyers can join to drive change at industry and community level

Too many people still live in poverty in today’s world. Meanwhile, we can also see that the environment that we live in is facing various scarcity issues. Some of the key challenges for my industry are clean water and textile waste, and when it comes to human development, we are focused on issues such as wages and overtime.

My job includes securing H&M’s global sourcing strategy by ensuring sustainability in production countries. This includes promoting our Fair Living Wage Roadmap in countries that supply our products.

H&M is a global fashion retailer and does not own any factories. The supply chain to our operation is very large and we work actively with our suppliers. We see this as a great opportunity to support and influence local businesses and to contribute to positive change for the whole industry.

At H&M, we work for sustainability by considering both present and future generations’ needs in the decisions we make today. People, planet and profitability are equally important in our business decisions. We are part of the community in which our suppliers operate, and we affect people and the planet in various ways. It is in our interest to strive for the well-being of workers, and the world.

When we started working on sustainability in the 1​990s, it was very much issue-based with focus on basic safety such as ensuring that factories had fire exits, alarms, evacuation plans and fire fighting equipment. Over the years, the field has expanded to stretch over many different areas and today we are working in a more strategic way. In order to reach more sustainable business practices, we are addressing issues relating to wages, industrial relations and workers’ skills as well as water, chemicals and energy. We have had to learn how to prioritise and focus. This is about identifying and seeing where we have the best possibility of influencing and driving change.

It has always been our vision that all textile workers should be able to live on their wage. This is stated in our Code of Conduct. We do a lot of audits to make sure that the factories we use comply with this. Last year we did more than 2,800 audits and interviewed over 11,000 workers. The results from these audits and interviews serve as a base for us to develop our capacity building programs to drive change at supplier level.



If workers lack the opportunity to unionise and negotiate for their fundamental labor rights it creates an unpredictable and unstable market. This can, in turn, be a challenge for our business growth.

However, there is a limit to what you can achieve alone, even if you are one of the largest buyers in a country like Cambodia or Bangladesh. That’s why a collaborative approach is crucial.

We believe that developing a national minimum wage is taking too long in some countries. We are taking action for improvements and encouraging the whole industry to follow. With H&M’s size comes responsibility, and we have the ability to contribute to change. The key point of our current strategy is to use our size as leverage to create coalitions with like-minded companies and organisations.

Our new Roadmap to a Fair Living Wage is based on the vision that a fair living wage covering a workers’ basic needs should be paid by all our commercial goods suppliers. This should be enabled through H&M’s purchasing practices and based on the expectation that workers will have their wages negotiated and annually reviewed. It is also necessary to have democratically elected trade unions and/or worker representatives involved in the process.

To fulfill our Fair Living Wage commitment, we are dependent on others. An initiative such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation is a good example of how many sectors can be brought together. Different actors have different roles to play: buyers, suppliers, workers, their unions and governments. For example, we as a buyer have to improve our purchasing and negotiation practices to ensure they enable our suppliers to pay their textile workers correctly. We also have to work actively to build the capacity of both workers and factory management.

If workers lack the opportunity to unionise and negotiate for their fundamental labour rights it creates an unpredictable and unstable market. This can, in turn, be a challenge for our business growth. We are working to strengthen the voice of the workers. In Bangladesh we are training suppliers and their employees in social dialogue, and encouraging freely elected Worker Participation Committees.  The intention is to reach 100% of our suppliers by 2018.

To contribute to this objective, this year we have entered into the first collaboration of its kind between a multinational brand, Swedish trade union IF Metall, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Through this collaboration, we are supporting the development of functioning industrial relations, peaceful conflict resolution and collective bargaining in Cambodia. We are also planning a similar initiative in Ethiopia.

We are also working with like-minded brands and with governments to advocate for regular wage revisions and enforced labour legislation, including protecting workers’ freedom of association.

Going forward, H&M will be working on all levels towards fair living wages and functioning industrial relations. This will empower workers in the whole industry.


Anna Palmqvist is H&M’s Head of Sustainability Production, heading the sustainability programme in production countries including promotion of the Fair Living Wage Roadmap and Water Stewardship. She has been with H&M for 20 years, where she previously held the position of H&M Regional Manager for China, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The importance of knowledge-sharing, triangular co-operation, and inclusive partnerships


By Seiji Kihara, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

The international community witnessed a number of natural disasters in 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November, caused extensive damage with about 8,000 people dead or missing and more than 16 million affected. Other countries, including India and Mexico, were also severely damaged by typhoons and hurricanes in 2013. The Solomon Islands, China, and the Philippines were struck by massive earthquakes. Many precious lives were lost and long years of development efforts were destroyed by these natural disasters.

Knowledge and experience sharing and triangular co-operation, discussed in the session at the High-level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Co-operation in Mexico City in April, 2014, are valuable tools for promoting human security and establishing societies resilient against natural disasters.

Here is one example from Japan on how these tools can be used. In March, 2011, an unprecedented massive earthquake and tsunami struck our country, resulting in approximately 20,000 dead or missing, 130,000 collapsed houses, and 470,000 evacuees in the aftermath of the earthquake.

However, in that catastrophic situation, there was no damage to homes in a small coastal village in Iwate Prefecture despite this being the highest tsunami run-up ever – 40 meters above sea level – to hit this area. Why? This village had been hit by a tsunami in 1933, and had kept a record of damages and lessons learned on a stone monument as a way of sharing wisdom on where to build houses to prevent damage by future tsunamis. This knowledge-sharing saved many lives 80 years later.

Though this is just one example of knowledge-sharing across generations in a small village, Japan’s experience demonstrates that a country’s sharing of its knowledge and experience can save precious lives elsewhere. Japan has, tragically, confronted various natural disasters. We are sharing our knowledge and experience through opportunities such as the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai, Japan, on 14-18 March, 2015.

JapanStoneThe village – hit by a tsunami in 1933 – had kept record of damages and lessons learned on a stone monument to share wisdom on where to build houses to prevent damage by future tsunamis. This knowledge-sharing saved many lives 80 years later.*

Japan is also using triangular co-operation to reduce the risk of disasters. Japan initiated a project to construct Mexico’s National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED) and offered grant aid and technical assistance to develop the country’s capacity after Mexico’s massive earthquake in 1985. Through the efforts of both countries, CENAPRED is now a disaster management hub for Latin America and the Caribbean to promote disaster-prevention measures, such as earthquake-resistant infrastructure, earthquake observation, and citizen safety.

Following the earthquake in El Salvador in 2001, Japan and Mexico launched a joint project to establish and promote an earthquake-resistant housing construction model through grant aid and technical co-operation provided by Japan. This project leveraged the strengths and experiences of both Japan and Mexico to maximise development effectiveness. Japan provided equipment and technical experts, including on earthquake-resistant construction, while Mexico sent technical experts to support the effective application of the technology based on their own knowledge, as well as their experiences working with Japan.

Approximately 60,000 people have participated in third-country training programmes so far since Japan started triangular co-operation 40 years ago.  Japan will continue to contribute its expertise to promote triangular co-operation around the world.

As well as knowledge and experience sharing and South-South co-operation, the Global Partnership meeting in Mexico also highlighted the importance of partnerships with the private sector to address diversifying development challenges. To achieve sustainable growth, it is necessary to create a virtuous cycle through infrastructure development, using Official Development Assistance (ODA) to leverage private investment, create jobs, and raise income standards, to attract further investment.

A people-centered perspective is essential when promoting private investment in developing countries. This includes having as many people as possible enjoy the economic benefits of investment; enhancing social resilience to economic fluctuations, climate change, and natural disasters through investment; and advancing local people’s capacity to promote investment.

Last but not least, Japan is currently revising its ODA Charter. It aims to promote Japan’s development co-operation more effectively by building upon the global discussion on the post-2015 development agenda and through the growing diversification of ODA’s role. In revising the Charter, we would like to stress the importance of strengthening partnerships with various development partners in order to maximise development effectiveness. This is a common principle underpinning both Japan’s ODA and the Global Partnership.

An inclusive partnership among various development actors is indispensable for addressing development issues looking ahead to post-2015. I sincerely hope that the Global Partnership will continue to play a crucial role in further strengthening this alliance.

New PictureSeiji Kihara is Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and is serving a second term as a member of the House of Representatives. Prior to that, he worked for the Ministry of Finance for 11 years, including a secondmentat HM Treasury, U.K. He headed a Japanese delegation for the First High-level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Co-operation in Mexico City in April, 2014.

* Picture source: A website page with archived information on tsunami damage, and tsunami stone monuments from the Tohoku Regional Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan

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