The new aid architecture: what implications for civil society?

Dr. Rudolf Buntzel, from the Church Development Service and representing Concord during the 6th Brussels Development Briefing, explained that new actors bring new international funds – each with different procedures. NGOs are challenged to search for additional sources of funding, and rely less on their governments.

Dependence on public funding can drive NGOs away from their grassroots commitments and make them less radical in their advocacy for the poor, he said. All in all, the new multiplicity of financing for rural development is ambivalent: There is more money available and a new diversity of donors, this does not necessarily lead to more efficiency to reach the MDGs. Besides, many of the new players bypass the exsiting general consensus on aid effectiveness and transparency and follow their own objectives.

Mr. Buntzel continued with remarks on rural development, claiming that calls for the private sector to become more involved might shift the focus away from poverty reduction to economic growth. He argued that economic theories and models copied from past experiences of the industrialized countries or transferred from other continents were bound to fail. He questioned whether new donors were ready to engage in political conflict on the side of the people. For CSOs, the participation of the poor in their own development is key, they have to be in the driver’s seat. Researchers, investors, governments and experts on the other hand need to learn how to be co-pilots.

Mr. Buntzel concluded his presentation with an example of good practice- the ‘Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’ initiated by Kofi Annan. CSOs would like to see such models replicated to handle funds pledged by different players to alleviate the impact of the global food crisis.

See more from the 2 July Briefing

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