For the past four years, the DATA Report has served as a pure exercise in accountability. Since the announcement of the Gleneagles commitments, ONE has used this report to monitor their delivery, applauding donors who have been on track and charting a recovery course for those behind schedule. As such, all of these past reports have focused solely on what donors had already agreed. ONE did not spend time critiquing those commitments or pointing out their insufficiencies, but worked to understand exactly what was agreed – and ensure that understanding was shared with donors – so that the debate truly centered on whether they delivered what they said they would or not.
As the last instalment in a five-year series, the 2010 DATA Report offers up a more comprehensive assessment of total performance for each individual donor with a final report card on the delivery of the 2005 commitments. But, as noted above, this year’s report also breaks with previous tradition and outlines in more detail what future commitments should look like based on the lessons learned over these past five years.
As a result of this evolution, there are some methodological changes from last year.
Firstly, since 2010 is the final year for donors to deliver their collective Gleneagles target, this year’s report emphasises ONE’s projection for what those final 2010 figures are likely to be, so as to give a full 2005-10 report. ONE derives its 2010 projections from the latest budget figures verified through consultation with donor governments. This means that ONE’s final assessment is subject to change when the preliminary Development Assistance Committee (DAC) data on 2010 disbursements are released in April 2011. It is important to note that although the OECD DAC released its own 2010 projections this year, these are based purely on past trends (rather than budget analysis) and include bilateral debt relief, which means that they often differ significantly from ONE’s estimates.
Using those 2010 figures to assess overall progress between 2004 and 2010, ONE has written a final report card that assesses donor performance on development assistance using three factors: the ambition of the original commitment, the delivery of the increases promised and the extent to which each country has plans for 2010 and beyond – or not. ONE recognises the added challenge that each country has faced over the past five years with the onset of the food, fuel and financial crises and the resulting stresses that have been placed on budgets since the commitments were made. But those countries that have followed through with annual increases have seen significant returns, which should be applauded.
In addition to the emphasis on 2010, this year’s DATA Report includes some new chapters that reflect the changing landscape. The first addition is a new chapter on emerging economies and their role in Africa’s development. The past five years’ reports have focused on the G8 but recently, the role of the G8 vis-à-vis other members of the G20 and even beyond has come into question. At a time when the world is considering new groupings to take leadership on issues of development, ONE wanted to at least profile the existing, robust level of engagement amongst some of those new players. Although a lack of data prevents a true evaluation of these relationships and development assistance flows (including a comparison with traditional donors), ONE is hopeful that increased transparency and reporting by emerging economies will help to improve this monitoring in future reports, especially as these relationships expand and become more critical to Africa’s development over the coming years.
This year’s report also matches the usual monitoring of progress with a more forward-looking approach across a variety of chapters and sections, most notably in the new ‘2010 and Beyond’ chapter, the commentary on donors’ post-2010 commitments and the development assistance recommendations for the G8 chapters dedicated to Trade, Debt and Investing in People. The ‘2010 and Beyond’ chapter attempts to sketch out the changing landscape and the factors that must be considered going forward. ONE suggests that the primary focus must be on the importance of good governance for fighting poverty, the importance of equitable economic growth and the need to redouble efforts to fund successful, proven interventions to address the MDGs.
Over the years, ONE has acknowledged the limitations of this report and the gaps in its analysis. One glaring shortcoming is that, compared with its robust evaluation of progress towards ODA, there is a lack of comparative analysis in areas that are arguably most critical to Africa’s future – donor pledges to non-ODA areas such as trade and improved governance, and also the commitments of African governments to poverty reduction. As always, ONE calls for more transparent, robust commitments in these areas, matched with improved data, to empower civil society groups across the globe to hold their governments accountable for delivery in these key areas. ONE also applauds the work of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), as well as the efforts of African Monitor, the African platforms of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other civil society efforts focused on holding African governments accountable to their citizens. These partners need more support from the international community.
As the 2010 DATA Report is launched, key African-led publications will also launch their own assessments of progress to date. There is now a relatively robust body of work examining the past five years, highlighting both the historic successes and the shortfalls. The challenge now remains to feed that evidence into the momentum of 2010. With the G8 and G20 meetings, and the UN MDG Summit in September, there are several opportunities to set the course for another, better framework for engagement. Budget constraints have added challenges to the past five years and these constraints will remain, which is why donors must fully consider the potential impact demonstrated in 2005–10, while maintaining focus on the work still to do. It is critical that 2010 does not close without a roadmap for the future. And once it is written, ONE will most certainly be back next year to monitor it.