McCawley on Australian Aid Review: What Does Aid Effectiveness Mean?

The review of the Australian aid program announced by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd last week emphasized the need for aid effectiveness. But what exactly does aid effectiveness mean, an expert asks.

As reported by Devex, the review will run for the next five months and will be headed by Sandy Hollway, chief executive officer of the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

>> Australia Plans Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness

“It is not possible to talk about the effectiveness of any government program in a sensible way without considering objectives. And a key problem - in fact, the central problem with aid policy - is that there is no agreement on objectives,” according to Peter McCawley, former dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute and visiting fellow at the Australian National University.

According to McCawley, the 1984 Jackson Committee review of the Australian aid program identified three goals of the country’s foreign aid program: development, strategic and foreign policy, and economic opportunities for Australia.

“The Hollway Committee will, somehow, need to tackle the issue of what effectiveness means,” McCawley writes in the blog, “The Interpreter,” of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. “[I]f the Hollway Committee deals with this issue of objectives in a vague way, then the risk is that the final report itself will tend to be vague on key issues. It would be a considerable contribution to good international development policy if the Hollway Committee were to devote several pages to a clear and sharp analysis of this waffly concept of effectiveness.”

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.