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It’s the People, Stupid.

Antonio Lambino's picture

“Effectiveness in aid is also effectiveness in governance”, said Mark Nelson, senior operations officer at the World Bank Institute (WBI) during a recent panel discussion on the progress-to-date of the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA).  The AAA reflects an international multisectoral agreement on how the delivery of development assistance might be improved “so that it can make the greatest difference in the lives of poor people around the world.” 

March 2009 marks six months since Accra, and the latest issue of WBI’s Development Outreach magazine is dedicated to viewing aid effectiveness through AAA's lens -- where we’ve been, where we need to go, and how what we’ve learned so far might help us get there.  Last week, a few contributors to the magazine joined a panel at The World Bank to discuss these issues.

Worthy of note was the way in which the following insight was repeated and elaborated on during various points of the discussion: improving governance in support of development effectiveness requires going beyond technical work. 

Nelson said that a government official from a developing country had recently told him that technical assistance is easy enough to find.  Where they really need help is in areas such as strengthening leadership and local ownership, and building coalitions of reform.  Related to these goals are the following ideas brought up by the panelists:

  • Being serious about local ownership by understanding public opinion (i.e., look at available survey data and what citizens are saying about their own preferences).
  • Working with civil society organizations and giving them a place at the decision-making table.
  • Supporting South-South learning networks; cultivating leadership in the Global South.
  • Embracing the IT revolution toward improving public service delivery and strengthening accountability relationships; exploring M-Governance models (“M” for mobile).
  • Public engagement through the media and civil society (as a check against bad public sector governance).
  • Adopting and accelerating public-private partnerships. 

So in addition to working on technical solutions, improving governance in support of development effectiveness requires serious consideration of such things as public opinion, leadership, learning networks, multisectoral collaboration, and accountability relationships.  And one thing these all have in common?  They are essentially about people.

Photo credit: Flickr user guiguibu91