IFAD’s President says more must be done to make aid effective

Press release No.: IFAD/39/08

Rome, 3 September 2008 – Ministers, aid agencies and senior officials are gathering to discuss development performance this week in Accra, Ghana at the Third High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. Speaking ahead of his visit to Ghana, IFAD's President Lennart Båge says it is time for donors and their partners in developing countries to take responsibility for accelerating action to meet the commitments of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

"There has been progress since 2005," says the IFAD President, "but not enough to meet the 2010 targets set in Paris. We must do more, and we must do it faster."

With millions at risk there is no time to lose

As the world prepares to meet new challenges from rising fuel and food prices and climate change, it is more important than ever that development efforts are effective. It will be difficult to meet the commitments made in Paris three years ago, but it is not impossible. There are more than 850 million hungry people in the world today. High food prices are expected to push about 100 million more people into poverty, nearly 30 million of them in Africa. Climate change is likely to put an extra 50 million at risk of hunger by 2020. Food production will need to rise 50 per cent by 2030 to meet growing demand.

"Given the urgency of the situation, failure to meet the Paris commitments is not an option," says Båge.

Developing countries themselves need to be active partners in leading their own development

Country ownership is at the heart of effective aid. Country ownership is a process that allows governments, civil society and the private sector to participate in all aspects of development, including the creation, implementation and monitoring of national development strategies, programmes and projects. "There is now a clear understanding that creating the conditions under which partner countries have the capacity to manage aid is an intrinsic part of country-level ownership," says Båge.

For aid to do what it is supposed to do and make a lasting difference, developing countries must take the lead. "Countries must have the will and the leadership to take responsibility for their own development, and donors must support them with better systems and incentives," Båge says.

As ministers, heads of international agencies and organizations gather in Accra, the IFAD President warns it will take more than words for aid to be as effective as it should be. Weak institutions and limited participation by stakeholders are among the factors that can interfere with effective country ownership. "Changing organizational behaviour – within donors and partner countries – is an essential element in improving development effectiveness," says Båge.

Notes to Editors:

The Paris Declaration, 2 March 2005, is an international agreement endorsed by over one hundred ministers, heads of agencies and other senior officials to continue to increase efforts in harmonization, alignment and managing aid for results with a set of monitorable actions and indicators.

The Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness is being held at the Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana, 2-4 September 2008. It will be attended by ministers from over 100 countries, heads of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, donor organizations and civil society organizations from around the world.

Participants will review progress in improving aid effectiveness and discuss key actions donors and partner countries need to take to accelerate progress in making aid more effective. They will also chart a course for continuing international action on harmonizing the delivery of aid.

During the Forum on 4 September IFAD President Lennart Båge will be discussing the current food price crisis in meetings with African ministers, the President of the African Development Bank and the President of the World Bank.

A marketplace of knowledge and ideas will be held over the three days of the Forum. Through posters displayed at the marketplace and presentations, delegations will be able to share their innovative approaches to aid effectiveness. IFAD's President will present prizes for the marketplace competition at an award ceremony during the Plenary Session on 4 September at 16.30.

IFAD was created 30 years ago to tackle rural poverty, a key consequence of the droughts and famines of the early 1970s. Since 1978, IFAD has invested more than US$10 billion in low-interest loans and grants that have helped over 300 million very poor rural women and men increase their incomes and provide for their families. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency. It is a global partnership of OECD, OPEC and other developing countries. Today, IFAD supports more than 200 programmes and projects in 81 developing countries and one territory.