Thursday, 6 September 2007

Keep Vision 2030 from blurring

Keep Vision 2030 from blurring
In 2008, Accra will be the site of the 2008 review of implementation of the Paris Declaration.

What Paris Declaration?

The Paris Declaration arguably marked a turning point in relations between suppliers and recipients of overseas development assistance. Initiated in 2005, it represents a consensus by 139 partners — almost all bilateral donors (excluding China), 26 multilaterals and 57 states from the underdeveloped South — on improving the effectiveness of ODA in order to realise sustainable “development.”

It is credited with attempting to address two roots causes of underdevelopment — the quality (if not the quantity) of aid as well as governance — by transforming the relationship between donors and recipients.

The so-called Paris principles are local ownership, alignment, harmonisation, measuring for results and mutual accountability. By local ownership is meant determination of development priorities by recipients of ODA. By alignment is meant prioritisation of ODA according to that determination. By harmonisation is meant co-operation and coordination among suppliers of ODA. By results is meant longer-term development outcomes by moving to programme- rather than project-based approaches—including budgetary support, sector-wide programme support and so on.

And by mutual accountability is meant shared responsibility by suppliers and recipients for the realisation (or not) of those outcomes.

Whether we realise it or not, the Paris principles are being operationalised in Kenya. Even though Kenya does not need budgetary support, sector-wide reform programme support is being jointly offered to the Kenyan government by suppliers of ODA already — the education and governance, justice, law and order sectors being two examples. And Kenyan civil society is drawing from basket funds such as those on civic education and gender and politics. So much for harmonisation.

AS FOR LOCAL OWNERSHIP AND alignment, the Kenya Joint Assistance Strategy (KJAS) was concluded in July. The national strategy on which it was pegged was the Economic Recovery Strategy — which the National Rainbow Coalition brought in to replace the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. The ERS, however, expires at the end of the year. And there are many questions around what will replace it.

First, although the PRSP was the result of long consultations and enabled participation in its formulation, it was criticised for being imposed on Kenya by the international financial institutions and for not engaging with the Kenyan parliament.

The ERS, of course, was brought into being without any consultation and participation at all — but it was the vision of a NARC that then had unquestionable public support. What is being proposed now by the rump of the original NARC is Vision 2030. Which is problematic for several reasons.

First, Vision 2030, although it is supposed to be finalised through consultations countrywide, is actually being drawn up by a multinational consulting agency, McKinsey! Local ownership surely includes the reliance on local expertise to set up the basic parameters for debate and discussion.

Secondly, of course, the whole Vision 2030 process assumes that this government will, in fact, make it back into office following the general election. Even if it does, it will by no means command the kind of popular support that enabled the ERS to commence without question. Third, KJAS is already complete. Alignment surely would imply more than tweaking it a bit here and there following the elections.

Our overall development direction — and the external support given towards that — are clearly too important to leave in the hands of those who are more concerned about the acquisition of power than its use in the public interest.

L. Muthoni Wanyeki is a political scientist based in Nairobi

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