If one assumes that donors are above all committed to poverty reduction and improving the lives of the populations in their target countries, it would seem logical to think that they would have a strong interest in closely coordinating their activities, in the aim of increased efficiency and impact. However, in spite of significant efforts, donor coordination remains more an aim than a fact.
There are many reasons for this. They can be classified as “internal” to the traditional donor community and “external” to it (i.e., challenges within or outside of the direct control of the traditional donor community).
The most important internal reasons are:
They are further complicated by the “external” challenges:
- The proliferation of donors in the past 20 years
- The significantly increased complexity of development cooperation programmes and projects
Not only are countries such as China and India very active, but the world has also seen a major increase in NGOs, religious donors, foundations, and other new entrants, some of which channel considerable amounts of money into development efforts. This influx of donors makes coordination vastly more difficult, as the interests, experience, objectives, etc., of the “new” donors must be taken into consideration.
Furthermore, as development cooperation has moved from relatively simple infrastructure or other direct support activities into policy, SWAP and other broadly-based interventions, the number of players in any one programme has significantly increased, and therefore also the coordination challenge.
While I do not deny the value of the high-level meetings and round tables on the subject of donor coordination, I believe that significant progress on this issue can only be achieved by radical measures. In coming blogs, I will propose some new ways of approaching donor coordination.