Aid & accountability: still a happy couple?

By Gianluca Mezzofiore

Public interest in international aid is slowly growing across the UK, as catastrophic disasters such as the Pakistani floods make demands on people’s generosity.

But what is the level of accountability and transparency of aid agencies and NGOs responsible for delivering money and services to those countries in need of help?
A panel chaired by Paddy Coulter, Oxford Global Media partner and communications director of Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at Oxford University’s department of international development, addressed these pressing questions.

Aid is “terribly ineffective” according to Giles Bolton, an ex-aid worker for the Department for International Development (DFID), and author of the controversial book Aid and Other Dirty Business.

We pay for aid as any other public service but we cannot track its effectiveness. It has the worst of public service with no good of it.

I am surprised that the rhetoric of corruption has shifted from the corruption among donors to the corruption among recipients. Corruption is within the aid system, within the aid agencies themselves which are very compromised. Aid tends to be very overambitious in the assumptions.” that we can change the world.

Judith Randel, co-founder and director of Development Initiatives (DI), suggested that the primary thing donors could do about corruption is publish their own data: “They key thing is transparency on operations and traceability,” she said.

“The discussion around transparency is important,” argued Vicki Peaple, international development professional for the STARS foundation. “We have to put the decision-making power in the hands of the people who know how to use it more effectively, especially in those countries with stronger civil rights.”


Click here for a write up of the event on Alertnet.