Making water out of aid money

Aid money is failing to get down to local level authorities. WaterAid's report, Think local, act local, shows that the aid system has largely been unsuccessful in catching up with the decentralisation reforms it itself has pushed. Too many local authorities in developing countries find that their capacity to deliver services is undermined by the failure to distribute finance through government structures...

LONDON, April 28, 2008 -- Aid money is failing to get down to local level authorities. WaterAid's report, Think local, act local, shows that the aid system has largely been unsuccessful in catching up with the decentralisation reforms it itself has pushed.

Too many local authorities in developing countries find that their capacity to deliver services is undermined by the failure to distribute finance through government structures.

Think local, act local draws on evidence from 12 of the poorest countries in Africa and Asia and highlights key blockages that stand in the way of development money reaching the local authorities who are responsible for delivering services. Funds are not reaching the local level; in Ethiopia this has resulted in a missed opportunity to provide water and sanitation to 70,000 people.

Laura Hucks, WaterAid Policy Officer and author of the report, explained: "Our research shows that in spite of policy commitments to decentralisation reform -- which aims to make basic service provision more efficient, accountable and responsive to the needs of communities -- local governments are consistently bypassed. The problem is particularly acute in the water and sanitation sectors where finance is fragmented and piecemeal.

"There is a lack of donor coherence and poor management of development finance. Many bilateral and multilateral donors and even NGOs are not recognising or aligning aid delivery with in-country reform processes."

The way in which aid is delivered is weakening democratic processes for accountability at the grassroots level. Local governments are unable to make effective plans, as they never know what aid they will receive and when it will be delivered.

Based on this research, WaterAid is calling for national governments and donors to step back and allow local governments to make decisions in response to local pressures.

To read the WaterAid report in full, see: http://www.wateraid.org/documents/plugin_documents/11961_think_local_screen.pdf

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Also see:
-- "Feel great and look fantastic in H&M's WaterAid bikini"

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