International aid and development has evolved over the last seventy years into a global multi-billion dollar industry. A complex, self-contained, self-perpetuating, global aid system has emerged. Participants in this system include government and philanthropic donors; multilateral institutions; international non-governmental organizations (INGOs); for-profit development companies, consultants, and financiers; and community-based organisations.
Critiques of the aid system have proliferated in the last decade, but the global industry remains robust, readily absorbing criticisms that externally directed aid and development generates dependence. Governments, institutions and INGOs have attempted to deflect this critique by outsourcing aid delivery to “local organisations”, but in the process have created a sector of agencies in developing countries which are donor-driven, with an externally imposed mission and managerial culture.
Civil society groups in recipient nations are entangled with this global aid and development system, but their voices are rarely heard in the global discussion. Many lament the disempowering methods by which the aid system operates and their own financial dependence on it. Many have hoped that voices for change in the aid system will arise, and force the adoption of an alternative framework for development.
Civil society groups in donor nations also lament the relationships of dependence generated by the aid system and its inability to deliver significant reductions in poverty. But they too lack an alternative framework and practical strategies to reform the system.
Reform of the aid and development system is long overdue. Transformational change in the system cannot be generated by the industry itself, but can only come from individuals and organizations in global civil society who are without vested interests in “business as usual” or the stalemate it generates. INGOs are too conflicted to lead a reform agenda. Most international discussion of “accountability’ and “effectiveness” in aid and development is led by INGOs, who always exclude their own interests from the discussion.
Our aim is a new framework for aid and development that is generated by, and accountable to, civil society rather than the aid and development industry.
The Aid and Development Global Reform Network is a global initiative for reform. It will encourage, support and connect reformers around the world who seek reform, but who have often felt isolated or ineffective.
The Network will create three international Registers as tools for reform:
a Register of Authentic Civil Society Organisations;
a Register of Local Intermediaries; and
a Register of Donors who support the reform framework outlined below.
Your participation is invited. Our Charter for Aid and Development Reform and Civil Society Empowerment follows. A Global Leadership Group will guide the development of the network. Country Coordinators will coordinate activity in each nation.
Expressions of Interest in participating may be expressed through this online form.
Charter for Aid and Development Reform and Civil Society Empowerment
1. Global aid and development funds should be allocated only to Authentic Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in recipient countries. Authentic CSOs are those that meet three criteria:
a. are independent civil society organisations with an independent history (not created by governments or INGOs or aid contractors);
b. have civil society-based governance; and
c. are not donor-driven in their mission or management.
2. In recipient countries, Local Intermediaries should be created by Authentic CSOs to act as instruments for directing resources to authentic CSOs. Local Intermediaries would be partnerships of Authentic CSOs and may include other local organisations including governments, providing that Authentic CSOs maintaining a controlling interest.
3. Both government and private donors should commit to:
a. allocating funds only to Authentic CSOs or to Local Intermediaries;
b. not allocating funds to INGOs and international contractors; and
c. allocating 25% of all funds in recipient countries in the form of institutional rather than project grants.
4. The Aid and Development Global Reform Network will maintain three international Registers:
a Register of Authentic CSOs that meet the criteria in 1.;
b. a Register of Local Intermediaries that meet the criteria in 2.; and
c. a Register of Donors that commit to allocating funds according to the criteria in 3.
The Network will promote the Registers and encourage organisations to signal their support for reform by inclusion on the Registers.
5. A Global Leadership Group will guide the development of the network. Country Coordinators will coordinate activity in each nation.
6. The Aid and Development Global Reform Network is an independent network of participants and is not aligned with any organisation, consultancy business or government in the aid and development field. It is not a provider of services, nor is it a consultancy business.