NZ aid lacks inclusiveness - peer review
Peer review of New Zealand's approach to aid raises some concerns but is generally positive.
New Zealand has been told to sharpen its act over how it manages and implements aid in the Pacific.
This is the outcome of a peer review of aid spending conducted in Kiribati and used an an example for the wider region.
Don Wiseman has more.
The review, under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat, is largely positive, but New Zealand has been told to be more inclusive. The peer review, the first done of a donor by the recipient countries, aimed to assess the effectiveness of the aid. One of the reviewers, the assistant chief executive of Samoa's ministry of finance, Noumea Simi, says it flowed on from a series of peer reviews already done of the recipient nations.
NOUMEA SIMI: The whole idea is that in order to get a complete picture of the co-operation in the Pacific region and also to include the development partners involved, the countries felt it was important to have peer reviews done of the development partners and also all the regional partners that are part of this development co-operation.
The reviewers concluded New Zealand should form better partnerships with civil society and non-government organisations when making aid decisions. The Forum Secretariat's development co-operation adviser, Alfred Schuster, says it is a call for greater inclusiveness in the process.
ALFRED SCHUSTER: That's a point that is coming out very strongly in the report, especially in New Zealand itself, and engaging a range of different types of experts from those within civil society, through to academia, to help New Zealand's own policy and implementation.
A veteran aid worker says the criticism is justified. The outgoing chairman of the Council for International Development, Seth Le Leu, says the NGO community had had close links with the government until it abolished the semi-autonomous aid agency, NZAID.
SETH LE LEU: Now over the last five or six years there has been a real move from being partners to being contractors to government. And from a situation where it was pretty collaborative to what is being fostered, which is a highly competitive environment, and those things don't necessarily lead to great development.
New Zealand's high commissioner to Fiji, Mark Ramsden, says calls for improvements in some aspects of the process are to be expected.
MARK RAMSDEN: You wouldn't engage in a process like this if you weren't looking for suggestions for improvement. It showed that New Zealand was doing a lot of things right and the quality and nature of New Zealand's engagement in the region is key to the effectiveness, it is how we do the work as much as what development work we do.
Another criticism is that the donor country can take a 'Do it themselves' approach instead of involving the recipient nation in the mechanics of the process, and so handicapping that country's capacity development. Noumea Simi says the context of each country needs to be considered and Kiribati is one place where skills can be thin on the ground.
NOUMEA SIMI: So because of that there is a tendency for some of our development partners to want to move the process of implementation but at the same time they are not ensuring that there is full engagement of the appropriate parties in the recipient countries involved and to ensure that they are joint owners of the process and the programmes that are being implemented.
Seth Le Leu says part of the capacity issue is New Zealand's policy of ensuring a Kiwi Value Add in its projects.
SETH LE LEU: Those are the kind of terms that are used. So they do want to see Kiwi expertise in the field, working, making a difference. Now I think one of the thing that a lot of New Zealanders don't realise is that the majority of all of the work that the development agency does are nationals - Solomon Islanders, ni-Vanuatu, Papuans, etc. All who really know their country and have a great passion to build their own community, and they are the bedrock of everything we do. They are the people who know the stuff, know what works and things like, and the thing that is most exciting for us is partnering with these amazing people.
He says it can be a retrograde step to bring in New Zealand experts. Mark Ramsden says New Zealand is still to put together a considered response to the recommendations in the report.
MARK RAMSDEN: Those things are going to be looked at as the response to the report is worked through the system. I should probably emphasise that there some very good relationships that we have through a range of New Zealand and Pacific based NGOs, and there is probably a lot of good stuff we can build on there.
A review of Australia has been completed and will be released early next year, while regional bodies, called the CROP agencies, are also to be assessed for the quality of their aid support.
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