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In September 2008 official aid donors and recipients will meet in Accra, Ghana, to discuss how to make development assistance more effective. If advocates of better aid as well as more aid really want a win at Accra, the authors suggest participants forget haggling over broad conceptual issues and focus instead on getting a public commitment from donors to one or more very concrete steps like the six they propose:
Untie all aid, including technical assistance, and publish information on which providers get contracts in practice.
Tell recipients what donors are spending through a concrete set of standards for transparency.
Make all evaluations public, regardless of their results, by entering them into a prospective registry.
Pay for outcomes not inputs, by piloting a Cash on Delivery aid contract with interested recipients.
Let recipients use technical assistance to buy what they need by piloting with interested recipient(s) an arrangement giving recipients full flexibility in what consulting and training to buy, and financing a platform for recipients to give and see each other’s feedback on the services offered by multiple providers.
Give recipients ironclad predictability of the future aid flows to which they commit by allowing recipients to arrange with an intermediary to receive a guaranteed cash flow, and sign over the donor’s actual flows over some agreed period to the intermediary.
These actions are certainly not comprehensive. But they have several advantages: not only would each contribute to improving aid effectiveness in one or more of the general principles of the Paris Declaration, but they also have the advantage of being clear enough easily to hold donors accountable. And for some of them there are no good excuses for donors to refuse outright—hence the advantage of using this high-profile event to ask for them. Isn’t that heightened attention to the issue the point of flying so many donor, recipient, and civil society representatives to Accra for the High Level Forum in the first place?
Nancy Birdsall and Kate Vyborny. 2008. "A Little Less Talk: Six Steps to Get Some Action from the Accra Agenda." CGD Notes. Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development. http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/16551/