Global Launch of the Reality of Aid 2011 Report
Democratic Ownership and Development Effectiveness: Civil Society Perspectives on Progress since Paris
5 October 2011 / 12.30-14.00
Roger Ockrent Room, OECD Chateau
Paris, France


Executive Summary

As the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness is fast approaching and the 2015 target for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is just around the corner, civil society organizations (CSOs) engage in dialogue and strengthening reform efforts at the country, regional and global levels. The Reality of Aid (RoA) Network contributes the special RoA 2011 Report to these efforts.

An alternative evaluation of the progress since the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PD), the Report augments the official analysis of progress with evidence from 32 country-based perspectives from civil society. This evidence adds important nuances to the reading of the official reports of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness and the OECD Development Cooperation Directorate.

While the official reports set out valuable evidence of progress, often limited, in key areas of commitment to reforms, the Report was able to draw analysis from the experience of many different development actors at the country level, who are at the forefront of development actions working with people living in poverty, including grassroots organizations and marginalized communities. Noteworthy is that while perhaps less well formed by the technical jargon of aid effectiveness, these perspectives are important but difficult to access by the official evaluators.

The Report’s 32 country chapters, collated through in-country research, meetings and interviews with government officials, donors and CSOs, focus deliberately on democratic ownership of country development plans and development results for the people.

The country chapters draw together findings and analysis by CSO authors in four areas of democratic ownership and development results. First is the progress in creating multi-stakeholder formal bodies and effective broad consultation processes to determine and monitor development policies, plans and strategies, which are inclusive of women and marginalized populations. The RoA country cases found a mixed experience with inclusive consultations and few fully inclusive multi-stakeholder bodies for development planning and monitoring.

The second area is the existence of enabling environment for CSOs wherein RoA country cases found a closing space for civil society as development actors in many countries. There was, however, a mixed impact of Paris/Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) on the political, legal and operational environment of CSOs. Half of the country chapters explicitly raise issues for CSO enabling s environment and operational capacities.

Another area is the transparency and access to information on development plans and accountability for use of development resources where RoA country cases found limitations on practical access to information, even where legislation exists. When combined with very limited formal opportunities for democratic accountability, CSOs face significant challenges in holding donors and governments to account for the use of development resources in many countries.

The final area, which focuses on promoting development results for the people, is the progress in poverty indicators for sustainable development outcomes for poor and vulnerable populations, including progress in realizing conditions for gender equality and women’s rights as an essential foundation for development. In this area, RoA country cases found that demonstrating impact in terms of development results for people from aid reforms is methodologically challenging. Limited evidence exists of some linkages between country-level implementation of aid reform policies and positive changes over time in conditions of poor and vulnerable populations and in progress on women’s rights.

The PD and the AAA have led to unprecedented opportunity for both donor and developing country governments to invest in change. The Working Party on Aid Effectiveness has opened a space for debate on issues and areas of common interest in development cooperation. The evidences presented by the RoA country chapters, however, suggest that the distance travelled for aid and development outcomes has been very modest at best due to deep-rooted structural and political barriers at many levels.

A new Development Compact coming out of the HLF4 in Busan, which is expected to motivate all development actors to work synergistically to implement democratically-owned development strategies that address country-specific conditions of poverty and inequality and barriers to social and political inclusion, will be judged by its practical commitment and objectives to address development challenges.

While CSOs and many country-level consultations have outlined proposed components for the Busan Development Compact, the RoA 2011 Report adds specificity to the global proposals.

In summary, CSOs are calling for:

  1. Putting inclusive democratic ownership at the heart of development effectiveness;
  2. Implementing development strategies and practices based on international human rights standards and norms;
  3. Affirming and supporting CSOs as independent  development actors in their own right; and
  4. Proposals for inclusive, rights-based and accountable international aid architecture, with an open space for public debate on directions and trends in international cooperation.


For copies of the RoA 2011 Report, please email The electronic version of the Report can also be downloaded from the RoA website.

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