15 Feb 2013

ERCAS Hosts Event on Transparency in Development Aid

The European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS), together with Transparency International (TI) Germany and the anti-poverty organisation ONE, hosted on 14 February 2013 a roundtable for the presentation and discussion of results of recent research on transparency and accountability in international development assistance. The study presented was conducted by former students of the Master of Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance in partnership with Transparency International and students of Columbia University, New York, and assessed transparency and accountability in development aid from five donor countries (Germany, United States, Brazil, China and India) to four recipient countries (Colombia, Liberia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka). The event, which had the participation of German policy makers and civil society representatives, focused on the role of the assessment for German development cooperation.

Motivated by standing commitments of donor countries to principles of transparency and accountability in development cooperation, as evidenced by international agreements signed in Paris in 2005 and in Busan, South Korea last year, the main objective of the research project was to assess and compare to what extent these principles are effectively put in practice by traditional (Germany and United States) and new (Brazil, China and India) donor countries in the four selected countries. In order to do that, the team’s researchers verified how much information is made publicly available by donors on their development assistance to the selected countries. The study focused on transparency related to eight categories of information – country strategy, modalities of cooperation, processes of mutual accountability, distributive policies, total budget allocated, forward planning budget, monitoring and evaluation results, and conflict resolution mechanisms – and on additional four indicators of accountability – discussion of monitoring and evaluation results and implementation of processes of mutual accountability, of participatory mechanisms involving stakeholders in the formulation of development policies, and of processes for conflict resolution.

According to the results presented by Hertie School graduates Claudia Müller and Sandra Pfluger, the extent of transparency in the case of the selected indicators was very limited across the board. China was by far the least transparent country, while other donors published some information on their practices in the four selected countries, but much less than what one would expect given their international commitments. In the case of accountability practices, Germany fared comparatively well, with consistent implementation of the assessed practices, except in the case of conflict resolution.

The results were discussed by a panel including Ursula Müller, representing the German Ministry of Development Cooperation, Sieglinde Gauer-Lietz, director of the working group on governmental development cooperation at TI Germany, and Andreas Hübers, political analyst at ONE. The presenters and participants stressed the importance of Germany’s implementing principles and policies proposed within the scope of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

(The picture featured above is from devpolicy.org.)