AidWatch Launch – House of Dutch Language, Brussels – November 28
Hans Zomer, the director of Dóchas, the Irish national platform of development NGOs, started proceedings by introducing the panel for the CONCORD AidWatch 2012 Special Report Launch held in Brussels on the 28th of November. Flanked by Marjolaine Nicod, a representative from the OECD, on one side and Pauliina Saares, a member of AidWatch and Finnish NGO network Kepa, on the other, Rose Wanjiru, director of the Kenyan Centre for Economic Governance, and Timo Wikki from the European Commission Europeaid, were also seated on the front stage.
Saares said that due to “a lack of political will”, a report like AidWatch is the exact type of work civil society should carry out to ensure “governments hold onto their promises”. Nicod shared frustrations with Busan and felt that development cooperation effectiveness had “taken too long to shape” but was quick to point out the wide range of actors and stakeholders that the Busan process incorporated. Wikki was equally optimistic and described Busan as a “big step forward”. Rose Wanjiru illustrated the on-the-ground costs of development ineffectiveness, giving an example of the procurement of an improved voter registration system which ballooned in cost from €35 million to over €80 million. She also raised an extremely interesting problem; how do we make aid a popular discussion and issue?
No excuse not to move forward
Busan came under fire again during the Q&A session that followed with the audience raising issues such as its vague and overly technical nature, and poor showing in terms of implementation from actors such as the World Bank and China. Wikki’s rebuttal came in the form of a plea for patience but Saares reminded everyone in the hall, as if they needed any reminding at all, the urgency of the issue in terms of the cost of human lives. She also stated that even if Busan was weak, this should not serve as an excuse for the EU and its member states to do the bare minimum for development effectiveness. The chair Hans Zomer closed the event by reiterating the importance of AidWatch but perhaps it was summed up best by Wikki who said “there is no excuse not to move forward”.