New aid strategies in which international aid donors in Pacific Island states have been handing over greater control of projects to recipients may be backfiring, according to a Wellington geographer, Professor John Overton of Victoria University.
Allowing aid recipients to design and implement development policy themselves - a move intended to bolster their independence - may actually be undermining the sovereignty of Pacific Island states, he said.
Prof Overton has been granted $686,631 over three years by the taxpayer-funded Marsden Fund to investigate the relationship between aid and sovereignty in at least six Pacific Island countries.
International agreements designed to strengthen local control and improve aid efficiency led to major donors becoming more involved in general budget support for recipient states, with the donor country placing various conditions on the use of the funds.
As a result, the power balance had shifted towards donor control and considerable financial and infrastructural burdens have been placed on recipients.
Prof Overton said this was of particular concern for small Pacific Island countries that are heavily dependent on aid. Each year Tuvalu is visited by some 1200 officials and consultants (equal to 10 percent of its population), which affects its capacity to both host their visitors and to manage the larger aid volumes.
A team of researchers working with Prof Overton, Professor Warwick Murray, of Wellington, Prof Vijay Naidu, of Suva, and a consultant, Gerard Prinsen, will gather information to make recommendations on how small states can better deal with the new style of aid.
source: newshub archive