Today I spent my lunchtime at the World Bank’s office on Marin Place. I was part of a small crowd packed into the meeting room space as the audience for the Praxis panel discussion – the effectiveness of aid – featuring key figures from Ausaid, World Bank and elsewhere.
The immediate undertones that struck me was the almost apologetic demeanour of the effectiveness of aid. I got the feeling that these organisations have recently come to epiphany… To be effective with results in reducing poverty and other major afflictions around the world, the only way is though empowerment of locals.
Leaving you with that theme for a second, Michael Canahan from Ausaid, said that following the first review of Ausaid in 15 years they are now focusing on ways to leverage the private sector to in his words “to catalyse the impact of aid”. This was followed by strong indications that “developing human capital of local communities” and “unlocking entrepreneurship especially in women” are key to the future of aid.
Roadblocks to this ideal were rightly discussed at length. Panelists pointed to the need for measurable outcomes, transparency and local “beach head” partners who can properly implement programs. Summing this up Truman Packard of World Bank said
“aid is the transfer of knowledge as well as financial aid. With knowledge we can help communities access hard money, in other words taking their own loans, where evidence indicates empowerment leads to much greater ownership and seriousness”.
All of these points are reasonable, with my limited (but growing) knowledge of this area I completely agree. Tick.
The key ideal these unequivocally suggest is that social outcomes are best derived from local projects, in the private sector but with social outcomes at the core. Social business is the tool these leaders are dreaming of. There must be a conduit to link multilateral donor institutions with social businesses for the future of aid effectiveness.