Ireland has included Sierra Leone among the focus countries for its development aid programs, but East Timor seems to be out of the picture in Irish Aid’s new policy unveiled on Thursday.
Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia will remain as key partner countries of Irish Aid, according to an executive summary of the white paper obtained in advance by Devex.
The change in terms — from program to key partner countries — is meant to reflect the “more rounded partnerhips” Ireland aims to pursue with these states. Irish Aid targets to deepen its engagement in Sierra Leone and also Liberia, but East Timor will no longer be a key partner country.
“Our office in Timor Leste is being phased out in line with an earlier government decision,” the document notes.
Ireland will engage differently in all of the nine countries, “depending on the needs and opportunities that exist,” the document says, but action will surely be aligned with the program’s goals and key priorities.
Under the new policy, Ireland will continue to focus its assistance on addressing global hunger and building resilience. Climate change and human rights remain part of its priority action areas, with more resources expected to be channeled to improving gender equality and disability.
Transparency and accountability, meanwhile, will now figure among Irish Aid’s priorities. The program has committed to publish its aid data in the International Aid Transparency Initiative by 2015, and work with NGOs and multilateral organizations to ensure their adherence to “similar standards of accountability and transparency.”
Ireland was among the aid agencies that performed poorly in Publish What You Fund’s aid transparency index in 2012. DOCHAS, a network of Irish NGOs, also raised transparency as one of the main issues in its submission to the review of the Irish aid white paper in 2011.
As for Africa, Irish Aid plans to “work toward an exit from aid where possible,” and engage more broadly in economic partnerships in the region.
Ireland has reiterated its commitment to meet the U.N. target of spending 0.7 percent of its gross national income on aid. The white paper however did not specify how the government plans to do so or when, only that it “will endeavour to maintain aid expenditure at current levels, while moving towards the 0.7 percent target when our economy improves.”
Irish Aid’s budget fell from €511 million in 2012 to €498 milion in 2013.
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