Thursday, September 4, 2008

UNDP says: - there is no need for detailed reporting and accounting from poor countries

Mr. Olav Kjorven, Director of the Bureau for Development Policy of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on Wednesday called on donor nations and multilateral organizations to clean up their act and desist from the excessive demand for regular detailed reports on the application of aid from recipient countries as a requirement for subsequent aid.

He told journalists at the Third High Level Forum (HLF3) on Aid Effectiveness that donors had turned governments of poor countries into their accountants demanding regular time consuming detailed reports on meagre aid from them instead of those governments spending their time working for the betterment of their citizens.

"Governments of poor countries have become the accountants of donor nations always filing reports to justify why they deserve more aid instead of concentrating on building their own internal structures to get their people out of poverty," he said.

Mr. Kjorven said as a result of the desperation of poor countries for more aid, donors perceived them as clients who need service and not as partners in development even though the poor countries would want to believe that they were partners with the donors.

"If poor countries do not demonstrate to donors that they are willing to go on the path of empowering their citizens as a matter of rule of law, donors would continue to see poor countries as clients who need service and not as partners in development," he said.

He noted for instance that it was as a result of donor perception of poor countries as clients that donors tie conditions to aid, deliver aid project by project in a manner that defeated the purpose of reducing poverty.

Mr. Kjorven said it was high time poor countries realized that no amount of aid would solve their problems without putting in place a functional rule of law that ensures property rights, labour rights and access to justice for the poor.

He said the experience of the developed countries was ample testimony to the fact that access to property ownership, labour rights and justice were critical to poverty reduction, wealth creation and overall economic transformations.

"Poor countries need to concentrate on streamlining their national policies to ensure that they have a functional rule of law that makes it possible for their citizens to easily acquire and own property else their effort at poverty reduction through aid and handouts will remain a mirage," he said.

Mr. Kjorven, said research by an international body called the Commission for Legal Empowerment for the Poor (CLEP) indicated that at least four billion people in the world lack access to reasonable opportunities that only a functional rule of law could deliver.

He said unless governments, civil society organizations and institutions in less developed countries (LDCs) focused on working to establish a framework that would make their national laws friendly and allies of the poor no meaningful progress would be achieved in the lives of the poor no matter how much aid donors inject into poor countries.

"This is not an argument for aid to be cut, but an argument for the poor to be empowered through functional rule of law to solve their own problems," he said.

He said for instance that the lack of proper identification system in poor countries made it difficult for development planning to capture the most deprives communities and peoples of poor countries.

Mr. Kjorven recalled a policy by the government of the United States years back when about 15 per cent of freed black slaves were provided with two acres of land and a mule each, saying that those who benefited from that policy constituted the wealthy few among African American today.

He argued that when the poor are made to benefit from policies that gave them property rights, labour rights and access to justice like the rich, they would be able to solve their problems and eventual free themselves from dependency on aid and handouts.

Mr. Kjorven said the UNDP in collaboration with the CLEP is working with about 20 poor countries to focus on the rule of law as a tool for empowering the poor.

"We are trying to make them understand why the elite make use of the law but the poor do not, and why for instance the elite see the police as protectors but the poor almost always try to avoid the police in their countries," he said.

Mr. Kjorven said in coming to the HLF3, the UNDP sought to strengthen its role in assisting governments and civil society organizations to properly manage the complex relationship with donors and the so-called development partners.

He expressed the hope that the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA), expected to evolve from the HLF3, would position poor countries strategically to be in the driving seat of their own development.

The HLF3 will culminate in the 31 point AAA that is expected to concretize the five main principles of ownership, alignment, harmonization, mutual accountability and managing for result, to which developed and developing countries committed themselves in the 2005 Paris Declaration.

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