Thursday, July 01, 2010

US aid effectiveness hampered by lack of transparency

A new report from OXFAM says that the US aid sufferes from a lack of information from both sides, the recipient and the donor. The countries receiving the aid lack info on what the money is for and are unable to plan ahead to spend it wisely. On the flip side, the US often lacks data from the recipient countries on how the money is spent.

The report entitled "Information: Let Countries Know What Donors Are Doing" says that US aid is ineffective because of the lack of data. The report goes on to say that several arms of the government is giving out aid money which could be wasteful and confusing.

From Reuters Alert Net, writer Olesya Dmitracova explains the report further and gives us a couple of examples. OXFAM is an international Non-Governmental Organization that operates advocacy, education and emergency assistance programs to help the poor.

For example, because of insufficient communication with the Afghan government, the United States has funded many schools and health clinics that ended up being used as barns and storage facilities because the Afghan government hadn't planned to support schools and clinics in those locations, the report said.

And in Cambodia, the lack of information on U.S. aid is causing confusion, with civil society groups worrying about what they see as closer ties between the United States and Cambodia's government and some in the government thinking that U.S. aid officials are too close to other organisations.


At a minimum, donors must tell recipient governments how much aid they plan to provide; the purpose of the funds; how, where and when those funds will be delivered; and how the donors will decide whether the money has been put to good use or not, Oxfam said.

The United States does not provide such information systematically, the organisation found.

One reason for this is the fact that U.S. government aid agencies do not have a clear obligation to translate the data they have on aid into information that is useful to recipient countries.

The report recommends expanding relevant U.S. laws to require U.S. government aid agencies to provide the detailed aid information beneficiary nations need.

Moreover, no single U.S. agency has complete knowledge of what the country's many government agencies and programmes, as well as the military, provide in foreign aid.

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