Donor Coordination 2: One solution lies in simplicity

In the previous blog, the main challenges to effective donor coordination were discussed. With the growth in numbers and complexity of the donors, getting a handle on coordination will require more targeted efforts and difficult decisions on the part of donors and their partner countries.

For the beginnings of a solution, let’s look at what works: simplicity. When – as for most bilateral or MFI/MDB aid – one ministry coordinates the aid flows in a partner country, the channelling of the aid is easier for the donor. So why not organise the bilateral and multilateral donors to do the same? This may seem radical, but my proposal is:

For each partner country, select one coordinating donor, whose programming, planning, execution, monitoring, reporting and evaluation methods would be applied, and through whom all development cooperation programmes for the particular country would be coordinated.

Such an idea would test the true commitment of donors to real coordination and aid effectiveness. At the very least, one could commence by showing this type of coordination among the DAC* members. Then others might be encouraged (also by the partner countries), to join the group.

(Unite all donors around one table!!)

And while we are at it, NGOs and foundations could consider joining the movement, particularly where their programmes overlap with or expand on those of the governmental donors.

The advantage of such a scheme would be to significantly reduce the so-called “transaction costs”, the administrative and organisational challenges presented by the huge variety of approaches to development planning, implementation and reporting. It would also streamline the projects and programmes and avoid overlapping. And although it would mean that many donor countries would have to give up a certain sovereignty in their dealings with partner countries, it would encourage a more holistic and comprehensive approach to development support.

For those that say it is unrealistic, I say: dramatic situations call for dramatic solutions. Why not give it a try? I am happy to support any interested donor or group in working out how such a solution might work in practice. I have plenty of ideas!!!

*The Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC):Department of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which is dedicated to coordinating development activities of OECD members.

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