Last-ditch diplomacy yields better aid agenda at Accra summit

“The Accra Agenda needs to be backed by urgent action if it is to live up to its name.”
Robert Fox
Executive Director, Oxfam Canada
Published: 4 September 2008

But ‘Agenda for Action’ still needs action, says Oxfam

Accra, Ghana: Last-minute negotiations pushed by developing country and European ministers at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness have secured commitments to improve international aid. The world will now be watching to ensure all donors implement the ‘Accra Agenda for Action’ and go further to make aid more responsive to the priorities of developing countries, said international agency Oxfam.

“The stage is set for important improvements in the way aid is delivered. But the Accra Agenda needs to be backed by urgent action if it is to live up to its name. It won’t have any impact on the lives of people living in poverty unless its promise is put into practice,” said Oxfam International head of delegation Robert Fox.

“This agreement must be a floor, not a ceiling. We encourage all donors to go further in accelerating the pace of reform. Oxfam knows that when aid is delivered well, it brings real results for women and men living in poverty. If governments north and south match their words with action, we could see real progress in tackling poverty.” said Robert Fox.

The Accra accord calls for donors to make longer-term aid commitments and sets a new target for donors to deliver aid through developing countries’ own systems. This will be a challenge for donors, said Oxfam, citing a recent survey showing only 46% of aid went through recipient country systems. It also includes measures to make aid more accountable.

“We are pleased to see a stronger commitment to transparency, showing what donors fund and how recipients spend,” said Robert Fox. “And we welcome the recognition that citizens and their organizations have a vital role in defining development priorities and holding governments to account.”

A compromise agreement was reached among official negotiators on Wednesday, without any time-bound targets. But developing country and European ministers arriving in the Ghanaian capital last night argued for specific commitments and dates for action.

Developing countries and non-governmental organizations have pointed to the urgent need to reform aid to prevent waste and give developing countries more control. Uganda, for instance, had to deal with 684 different aid agreements, from 40 different donors between 2004 and 2007.

“There is much more that can and must be done to improve quality, but equally important we need to boost the quantity of aid if we are going to end poverty and improve access to health care, education and clean water,” said Robert Fox. “At the UN meetings later this month on the Millennium Development Goals and the November meetings on development finance, donor countries have to get serious about scaling up aid to meet the enormity of the challenge. With more and better aid, we can make a real difference.”

Notes to Editors

Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 organizations working together to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. We work with more than 3,000 partner organizations in over 100 countries.