Investing in the future – how to maximize the impact on development aid?

Public hearing in the European Parliament
Monday 16 May 2005 by Christina Haralanova

Organiser of the hearing:

Anders Samuelsen (Member of the European Parliament)


- Ousmane Sy (Former Minister of Mali)
- Andrew Jackson (Deputy Heead of the Secretariat to the Commission of Africa in UK)
- Bjorn Lombrog (Former Director of Denmark’s natioanl Environmental assessmnent Institute and organiser of the Copenhagen Consensus May 2004)
- Lieve Fransen (European Commission, Head of Unit for Social and Human Development, DG Development and Board Member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria)
- Ander Wijkman (Director General of SAREC – Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries, and Policy Director of UNDP. Responsible for the European Parliament’s report on the review of the EU Development Policy Statement).

About the hearing

The hearing on development aid was aiming to investigate what the new financial perspectives of the EU between 2007(2008) and 2013 are and how to make more from this aid for the developing world in the framework of poverty reduction and MDGs. By the end of the year, there will be new EU development policy, explaining what EU should do and what budget will be provided in order to support the developing world.

The 5 speakers said their points of views, some made presentations on programs or decisions. There was small time left for discussions and public opinion, where people could give their own point of views on the issue. Herewith are presented the main points and/or conclusions from each speech of this hearing:

Mr. Ousmane Sy (Mali) gave his opinion from the point of view of a developing country and in this aspect, there was critics towards the EU policy, which elaborated priorities for spending the provided funds in issues that EU considers as important.

Mr. Sy said that from their point of view, there are other also important points, the point of view of the recievers of the aid. He stated as one of the worst problems in Mali and in Africa as a whole, the bad governance of the countries and the poverty. By reducing poverty it will help to solve many problems with SRHR (HIV/AIDS, child death, mothers death etc.). “We barely dare to talk about development, we are moslty talking about poverty”. The African continent is more and more isolated worldwide (ony 2% of the world international trade concerns African continent).

Some of the key solutions from this speech were:
- Decentralisation of the aid – no priority sectors, every sector is equally important. “We are used to believe problems are divided. It is not true, problems are very close and common and related.” Regional and interregional co-operation.
- Some things can be done only on regional level. Continental level is a larger region.
- Aid should be considered as a partnership logic. Changes are happening in Africa but they are not only changes for good. Current aid won’t help Africa – it is not little, but it is badly distributed. It brings the governance bodies towards careless behaviour. New partnerships will help working together, finding the means.
- “What is partnership? It is when people have put their cards on the table. We have put our cards on the table and we expect EU to do the same. We need to let you know what is the African agenda.”

Mr. Andrew Jackson (UK) made a presentation of the Commission for Africa (created in February 2004). This Commission is Blair’s persional initiative in which participate 17 independent commissioners, 9 of which from Africa. The idea of this Commission is to build “strong Africa”, to reduce poverty and to promote human development by 2015. The general aim is that Africa has no poverty in 2150.
- What was done so far by this commission? - consultations, 300 written submissions, website debates, seminars, 3 meetings of the Commission, “Our common interest – 11.03.2005”
- Where does money come from? - aid, debt relief. By 2015 will be given 75 billion USD (15 % HIV/AIDS, 26% - health, 27 % - growth infrastructure and trade).

- promising a lot but what is done exactly?
- they, as everyone else are setting up the problems list, but no one is in the “kitchen” to improve something
- contradiction in terms: how can EU cooperation allow the africans intependence? It will never fall into the right budget line. Who are they paing and what for: salaries of consultants, servants, teachers in Africa etc.

Bjorn Lombrog (Sweden) spoke about the Copenhagen Consensus from 2004. The Copenhagen Consensus has made a priority list on: “What should we do first?” The priority list of problems was done by economists, since they are “the best to make priorities between radically different objectives”.

According to the Copenhagen Consensus, the problem No.1 is controlling HIV/AIDS, and according to B.Lombrog, by 2010 there will be 28 million cases to be avoided. Costs for this are 27 million USD, while the benefits are about 40 times higher. They make a comparison with the Iraq war, where the costs have been 100 billion USD. On last (up to 20th place) were put problems like education, conflicts, diseases and climate change. The question they put is: there is money, but how shall we spend it?

Advices given:

1.Do a lot of good in longer term rather than a lot of good now.
2.Do not do things that do little with lots of money.
3.Do not do things you don’t know how to fix etc.

The conclusions form the Copenhagen Consensus are on the website

Lieve Fransen (Sweden/The Netherlands) presented the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. It is a new programme of the EU, adopted on April 27, 2005, which aims to provide treatment for 150 thousand people.

More information can be found on the specialised website of the commission

General conclusion: “Young people need hope!”

Anders Wijkman (The Netherlands) generalised the conclusions form the hearing and spoke about the “Future priorities of the EU developmnet aid”. Here are some of the points he made:
- You cannot “monetyse” everything, there are important criteria that does not relate to money.
- You cannot put climate change on last position (as it is in the Copenhagen consensus), because this is a global problem, and without solving it, ther will not be life on Earth.
- You cannot speak about HIV/AIDS without speaking about SRHR as a whole. There is not either/or when talking about problems. Economists cannot see everything – you need to combine experts in your work
- Life supporting systems are under attack. Without helping this, you cannot lower poverty, therefore you should invest into natural resources.

EU should:
- allocate more resources for development aid
- focus more attention to lower income countries that they do now donnors are so fragmented, which is impossible to work out: there are many groups of people and problems that cannot fit into any budget line.
- use systems approach rather than horisontal agenda provide more support on health issues: health systems, education, e-learning etc.
- build on already existing projects and not everyone to research all the same many times
- stress on mini-credits to set up businesses rather than on big credits.

3 points of Osmane Sy in reaction to Wijkman’s speach:

1.Consistency of aid is one key (seen from African point of view), and coordination is another key – often you see actions of contradictions between the partners.
2.“Who are you talking to when you are speaking about Africa? Who is your speaking partner? State? Others? Civil society as well as local communities play very important role in African countries, but often no one turns to ask for their opinion. What is the nature of the development aid? Stakeholders must be aware of the problems Africa has: poverty, crisis, development...
3.Young Africans live in dispare, because there is no project for them. The only solution they see is immigration. There are not enough perspectives in Africa – the ambition is in short term, but Africa needs more mid-term and long-term strategies.

Major outputs from the hearing:

1.There are number of projects going on under the notion “Development aid”. There is a lot of money provided, but the way they are spent is not always the right way. There is a lot of research going on, which has been already done many times. Many books are written, but not much funds are spent on solving the real problems.
2.EU is making their own plans in distributing the development aid, without asking for the needs of the revievers. More coordination is needed between donnors and recievers, in order to meet their needs.
3.The coordinatiors of the development aid is more concentrated to prioritise problems rather than solving them.
4.There are not enough competent people on issues like gender, environmental problems or SRHR. This is the reason why these major topics are missing in general documents in most researches, budgets and commissions reports simply because no one knew anything about these issues.
5.EU member states should engage more into this debate – everyone to give opinion.

Here is a link to Africa Report, 15 proposals to change Africa