Courtesy Reuters

The Quality of Aid

We still have much to do to adapt our arrangements for administering foreign aid to the fact that a successful aid program must be a process of partnership. Foreign aid is not something a donor does for or to a recipient; it is something to be done with a recipient. This is the reason for the growing emphasis on self-help by aid recipients. There is by now a strong consensus-although far from complete unanimity-that foreign aid in all its forms will produce maximum results only in so far as it is related to maximum self-help. This is the opinion of leading public officials and development scholars in developing countries as well as in advanced countries.

The broad concept of partnership and self-help applies to technical assistance projects, in which the purpose increasingly is to establish effective permanent institutions in the developing countries. Therefore foreign technical advice and training are made available only if those receiving aid commit themselves to establish the necessary administrative and legal framework, provide necessary budget funds, make available appropriate trainees and, on a specified timetable, take over full management and support of the enterprise.

As for technical assistance, we need to upgrade substantially the quality of our work. Aid donors and recipients need jointly to set higher standards of excellence for their joint work. I think more needs to be demanded of aid recipients by way of serious commitment, major improvements in policies, responsibility for funding and providing personnel. And I think more needs to be demanded of aid donors: higher quality resources, applied over longer periods, with persistence, imagination and a greater sense of personal involvement and pride in the outcome.

The concept of partnership and self-help applies to capital projects as well. Here, too, there is increasing agreement that completing a physical structure-a factory, a dam, a stretch of road-is not enough. What is needed in a developing country is the capacity to plan, execute and maintain capital projects, and the commitment of funds, talent

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