DFAT to stakeholders: Help us make Australian aid better

Students at the Fasi Moi Afi Government primary school, which the Australian Agency for International Development helped refurbish in Tonga. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is asking stakeholders to help develop performance measures to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the country's aid strategy. Photo by: Connor Ashleigh / AusAID / DFAT / CC BY

After announcing the details of the Australian aid cuts last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is now asking stakeholders to help develop and devise standard performance benchmarks to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the country’s official development assistance strategy.

DFAT said the performance measures will be there to measure foreign aid effectiveness and will center on three main questions:

  1. How should performance of the aid program be defined and assessed?

  2. How could performance be linked to the aid budget?

  3. How can the assessment of the performance of our implementing partners be improved?

“It is required to assess the performance of the … aid program and ensure it delivers effective and efficient outcomes in the national interest,” DFAT said in a statement. “[The foreign minister] has requested that consultations be undertaken with key stakeholders to build up on the knowledge and experiences of our development partners and ensure that the process of developing performance benchmarks is open and transparent.”

For the country’s NGO community, the government’s recognition of the need of performance benchmark for aid effectiveness and its gesture to comprehensively engage stakeholders is a welcome development. In fact, the Australian Council for International Development already gave the department its own suggestions on how to go about the proposed benchmarks to make Australian ODA more effective and accountable.

In a recent report, ACFID laid out 8 measures, including the need for a comprehensive policy statement, focus on inclusive growth, peace, security and governance, effective partnerships, civil society and people-to-people ties, predictability, transparency and accountability, expertise, evidence and innovation and environmental sustainability.

Of the eight, it will be interesting to see how Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative government will turn around effectivity measures regarding environmental sustainability — including climate change and disaster response — despite the coffers for these sectors were sucked dry, from over AU$19 million the past year to around half a million this year.

ACFID further added that despite Abbott’s insistence on projecting aid to bolster Australia’s brand image, it should not forget that aid — in its purest form — is intended to help the world’s poorest of the poor, and it should be legacy before image.

Do you think this consultation move is a good idea? Do you have any benchmark ideas that could help the Australian government improve its aid effectiveness and delivery? Please let us know by leaving a comment below or sending us an email at news@devex.com.

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.