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African leaders call for more effective aid programs

May 3, 2011

NAIROBI

Africa needs a new aid structure that improves the lives of the continent’s people, church and civil society leaders said. “More than one trillion dollars has been transferred to Africa from countries across the world. Yet Africa is still characterized by many development challenges," they noted in a statement issued on April 29 at the end of a two-day meeting on “aid effectiveness.”

The process of discussion between governments and donors on how aid to Africa can achieve better results started in Paris in 2005. African governments and donors there agreed on measures for better aid delivery in a document called the Paris Declaration.

In the Nairobi meeting, organized by the Nairobi based-All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), 26 participants from across Africa said they had reviewed the declaration, whose pillars are ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and mutual accountability among donors and recipients.

“We have discussed what makes it (the aid) perform better, what makes it fail and what ingredients we need to have so that we do not have a scenario where lots of money is coming in and we don’t see impacts,” said Vitalice Meja, the coordinator of Reality of Aid (RoA), an organization based in Quezon City, Philippines that focuses on analysis and lobbying for poverty eradication policies and practices in international aid.

Several recommendations were made at the meeting, which will be delivered to African governments, development partners and other actors during the Fourth High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

AACC has been holding a series of meetings to inform its members about the process, according to Arthur Shoo, director of empowerment and capacity building. He said African churches had joined the discussions because they felt it was their prophetic duty. “The church is the voice of the voiceless. The faithful expect us to show them direction,” said Shoo.

The fact that Africa has been receiving aid for a long time means that assistance has not helped the continent, noted Collins Magalasi, executive director of the Harare, Zimbabwe-based African Forum and Network on Debt and Development. “Good aid must have an exit strategy. It must be empowering. There must come a time when it should not be needed any more,” said Magalasi.

The Rev. Mautji Eloridge Pataki, general secretary of the South Africa Council of Churches, urged governments and nations to view aid effectiveness as a human right. “When people are hungry ... are without shelter ... in a world where others have surplus, then it becomes a violation of their human rights. It on this basis the church is making this problem its own,” he said.

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