NZ invites review of its aid programme

Radio New Zealand International:

Friday 21 November 2014


New Zealand has invited a review of its aid programme by its Pacific island peers - the first donor nation to do so under a scheme overseen by the Pacific Islands Forum.

The review aims to determine the effectiveness of aid programmes and Don Wiseman asked the Forum's development co-operation advisor, Alfred Schuster, why it is necessary.

ALFRED SCHUSTER: It's necesssary because the evidence that we have around the way that development partners are engaging in our region tells us that we need to pay particular attention on a number of issues. And two of those that have come up quite strongly is around fragmentation - fragmentation of the assistance that development partners provide but also the way in which development partners are using countries own systems and the delivery of those systems so that aid comes to them. So for example the use of countries own financial management systems.

DON WISEMAN: So when we talk about fragmentation we are talking about the inability or the lack of degree to which countries are working together?

AS: More as government partners and how they work in our Pacific Island countries. So it is about development partners being more coordinated in their assistance whether it be sharing of resources so that there is a more efficient use of resources and they are not duplicating across similar areas of need.

DW:When the recepient complain about the lack of the use of their own systems. This is again about the lack of connectiveness. They want their local systems to be used by the donor.

AS: That's right because there is an expectation on the part of the donor that their systems need to be robust. And so in response recipient countries particularly in our region have undergone numerous assessments on the robustness of their systems and they've used international standards to do that. So there's been a lot of work invested by Pacific Island countries through the evidence from these assessments to reform the public financial management systems. But yet there's still little response from development partners to use those systems. Now that doesn't mean that across the board all of the Pacific Island countries systems are robust. But overall there's a general view coming from the peer reviews of Pacific Island countries that there's a lot of work that's been invested by governments to improve their systems and very little response by partners to use them.

DW: New Zealand's approach to aid has changed dramatically in recent years. Away from poverty to economic development. Is this the sort of matter that would also come up in this review?

AS: Yes that's one part of the focus of the peer review. Is to look at what are the drivers for New Zealand's development cooperation policy. The review looks at the alignment of that and the coherence across what Pacific Island countries view as policy priorities and whether there's an alignment between the two.

DW; Is it something that the Island countries - are they critical of this change in direction by New Zealand?

AS: Well, the review of countries has been on their own systems but of course in saying that, one of the key principals of international good practice when it comes to the donor-recepient arrangement is that there is a clear alignment between the assistance that donors provide to the national priorities of developing countries so of course that is why the focus is on the extent to which New Zealand's aid policies aligns with the national priorities of Pacific Island countries.

Read/listen to story: Radio New Zealand International

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