A new player has entered the top ranks of the international donor community.
The Czech Republic — a former recipient of aid until it joined the European Union in 2004 — is now the 26th full member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee.
“The decision of DAC to offer the Czech Republic … is a positive assessment of the transformation of Czech development cooperation,” Šimon Pánek, director of Czech NGO People in Need, said in a statement Tuesday, May 14. “There is still a long way to go, but we are approaching the experienced donor countries.”
Only three years after Czechoslovakia broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the former already joined OECD, and only eight years later gained membership to the European Union, before becoming in 2006 the first old Soviet bloc state to become a fully developed nation as per World Bank classification.
Joining the EU however meant committing to provide official development assistance. The Czech government now allocates 0.12 percent of its gross national income to ODA, still far away from the 0.7 percent target by 2015 agreed upon by most OECD-DAC members. Total ODA in 2012 was $219.3 million, according to the latest OECD report on official development assistance spending published last month.
OECD completed in 2007 a peer review of the Czech Republic’s ODA strategy. Among other recommendations, the review called on the Czech government to create a separate international development agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, approve multiyear budgets for programs and refrain from “tied aid.” The Czech Development Agency was established a year later.
Jana Milérová, director the Czech Forum for Development Cooperation, agreed that the purpose of ODA projects should not be to support Czech business but rather “really help” recipient countries.
The question is, will the Czech Republic deliver on the 0.7 percent of GNI target for ODA? CONCORD, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs, thinks it is possible.
“By becoming a DAC member, the Czech Republic has the opportunity to not only to strive to achieve the 0.33 target by 2015 but to recommit to 0.7percent of ODA/GNI by 2015 and to take greater responsibility in times of economic crisis when aid is needed more than ever,” noted CONCORD director Olivier Consolo.
Other former Soviet bloc countries and new EU member states that have requested or at least expressed interest in joining DAC are Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland. Before the Czech Republic, the last full member to be accepted into the OECD’s group of top donor countries was Iceland in March 2013.
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