Donor agencies and MDGs

2014-10-13 02:55:00

Nazila Isgandarova

When the eight Millennium Development Goals were introduced in 2001, everyone anticipated that these goals must be achieved by 2015. However, only a few months left to reach the 2015, women are still targets in conflicts and wars, millions of children still die in Africa, Latin America and South Asia from preventable causes and chronic malnutrition before their fifth birthday every year, and food still is the most critical issue in the world.

In addition, continuous problems and crisis in Africa, Far Asia, East Europe, and the Middle East pose the question: why do donor programs fail to reach their objectives in spite of the significant funding? The second question is with regard to the mode of action of donor agencies. Since their goals overlap in many cases, is it possible that they cooperate together rather than acting independently? Third, why the developed countries criticize the UNDP agencies, for instance, Food and Agriculture Agency, in their performance?

Our aim is not to answer to all these questions. However, this article at least gives some insight about the problem with regard to the donor agencies and the MDSs. 

The Donor Countries

The UN has to work with governments, civil society and other partners to fulfill its ambitious agenda to meet the MDGs. The organization is especially dependent on international donor agencies.

Although it takes more time and energy to urge the governments to provide more aid, the UN has no other way, except to wait patiently because one of the indicators of success of the MDGs depends on how donor agencies and recipients together work in the areas of nutrition, education, health, gender equality and the environment. However, the donor agencies also are less confident how to achieve the goals and implement their strategies because the MDGs are too much focused on what should be achieved. Furthermore,

The donor agencies are divided into different groups, such as the national governments, multilateral organizations, bilateral agencies, international NGOs, research groups, etc. The list of the donor agencies shows that almost all rich industrialized countries are donors, which contribute more than 70 per cent of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's budget.

Currently, the major donor organizations are United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations World Food Programme, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the African Development Bank, Agence Française de Développement, European Commission, International Fund for Agricultural Development, CIDA, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, etc., which provide grants for different projects. Although the United States still remains the largest donor. In 2012, the total U.S. economic and military assistance was $48.4 billion. However, Sweden and Luxembourg are the most generous donor countries by spending a big portion of their national income to humanitarian assistance. Among these donor organizations, Turkish organizations (both government and non-governmental) hold the fourth-largest place in humanitarian assistance. According to an annual report by Global Humanitarian Assistance, in 2013,Turkey contributed more than $1bn (£665m)- 0.13% of its national income. For example, due to the Syrian crisis and ISIS, the main portion of the Turkish aid recipient went to 350,00 refugees from Syria. However, it does not mean that Turkey’s rank, as a donor country, is stable. The most controversial aspect of Turkey’s emerging as a donor country is the fact that it also receives the international aid, which was amounted $3.2bn in 2011. It is anticipated that the increasing conflicts both in the Middle East and East Europe will increase the volume of aid in near future.

What is the Problem?

Delivering international aid to poor countries, which is part of the international development strategy, is indeed an increased and courageous work. However, some donor agencies are reluctant to reach to troubled regions of the world because they believe that creating an access to different services is more important than delivering the aid, which at the end will contribute to the MDGs.  For example, some critics target the main focus of the MDGs, which pays more attention to poverty reduction and sustainable development. They claim that such a focus fails to pay attention to the root causes at international level (e.g. trade barriers), national level (lack of democracy, respect for human rights, civil conflict), and local level (poor local governance, disempowerment).

The Western nations also challenge the emphasis on providing an expensive ''safety net'' of food aid and food stockpiles in poor nations. For critics, the perennial food shortages in poor countries had more to do with the food policies of inefficient governments than with drought or other natural disasters.

Furthermore, most of the donor agencies focus on water and sanitation, improvement of the lives of slum dwellers, reduction of poverty and halve hunger, expansion of education opportunities for girls and women and youth, and environmental sustainability. However, the problem is that there are diverse opinions about the quantity or quality of aid to different regions of the world. Since the development is a local issue, the international institutes sometimes fail to understand the local problems and differences.

Nevertheless, even though this is a continuous problem, but the good thing is that the international donor agencies give all their priorities to lower-income nations and the MDGs are very significant for their works. Otherwise, there would be no hope formain recipients of the international humanitarian aid, who are mainly the poor countries. If the donor agencies did not provide assistance, the fate of 93 million people in 2011 and 76 million people in 2013 would be under question. However, as Jeffrey Sachs talks in his The End of Poverty, there is an urgent need to fix the "plumbing" of international development assistance in order for them to be effective.

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