The budget delivered in Wellington last week contained no major surprises for aid. We’ve had a National Party government for nearly six years, and those years have already proven lean ones for aid. This year’s budget does not change that.
As it is budgeted, New Zealand’s aid spend for the coming financial year is effectively identical to this year’s. Although starting July 2015 (which is the first year of a new three year spending tranche) aid is – as Figure 1 below shows – forecast to rise in nominal terms.
Last week a team of Australian academics and development practitioners launched The Pacific Index, an endeavour — modelled on the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index – which attempts to measure and rank the extent to which the countries of the OECD contribute to development outcomes in the Pacific. Each OECD country’s score on the index is a combination of measures of its contributions to global public goods (such as attempting to tackle climate change) and its more direct contributions to the Pacific (particularly its level of trade with the Pacific, the number of migrants from the Pacific it is home to, and the quality and quantity of aid it gives to the region). Gathering data of this sort is hard work, and the dataset alone will be useful when it is released, so the team involved deserve to be congratulated for what they’ve achieved.
A two page summary of the index is here, while a somewhat longer report is here. Media reports on the index are here and here. As you can see from looking at the results chart on page 2 of the report, New Zealand ranks highest on the combined index, which in part reflects our very commendable efforts in areas such as migration and our Pacific focus as a country more generally.
New Zealand also scores higher than any other country on the individual aid component of the index. While technical details on the formulas which drive the index scores have not been released, I exchanged emails with one of the authors of the index over the week. From what he was able to tell me I think it would be a mistake to conclude the index suggests New Zealand’s gives better quality aid to the Pacific than other donors do.
Promissory Notes on West Papua Policing and a New Zealand Aid Stakeholder Survey
First, thank you to those of you who got back to us with more information on the NZ aid funded West Papua policing project. We are hoping to work with colleagues to get something together on this over the next month.
Welcome to another NZADDs update.
Aid and Police Violence
First up, if you haven’t already seen it, the New Zealand Herald has two very interesting reports on allegations of Indonesian police violence in West Papua.
The significance for those of us interested in New Zealand aid is captured in the first paragraphs of one of them:
“A New Zealand police training project about to start in the troubled Indonesian territory of West Papua this year has been described by Papuans as “the same as sending money to kill us”.
2014 promises to be a big year for New Zealand aid and development: there’s the DAC peer review, and also a general election (probably in the second half of the year). Elections are also set to return to Fiji, and be held in Solomon Islands and Tonga (the three countries all being significant NZ aid recipients).
Australian Aid Budget Cuts Hit Home
The new Australian government has finally published details of where its aid cuts will fall. Observers with a calendar will notice that we are now quite some way into the financial year in question and that such cuts will be disruptive to say the least (something pointed out by Australian NGOs here and here).
Some bits and pieces to end the year:
In Canberra, aid uncertainty continues apace. The aid program is gone, and cuts to funding have been flagged, yet where these cuts might fall (and even their magnitude) is anyone’s guess. As Always, the Development Policy Centre’s blog is the best source of news, with Robin Davies’s posts being particularly well informed.
The Development Policy Centre has also just released the results of its Australian Aid Stakeholder Survey. The survey is based on the perspectives of the people who interact with the aid programme on a regular basis, and there is a tonne of useful and interesting information buried within it. It would be great to replicate the endeavour in New Zealand — if you are interested in helping us do that please let us know.
Commitment to Development 2013
Hello and welcome to another NZADDs email update,
Australian Aid Agonies
With the demise of AusAID, this week saw the end of an era. Former AusAID staffer Robin Davies has an elegant eulogy for the agency up on the Development Policy Centre’s website. The big question now is, of course, ‘what now?’ Robin appears to suggest in his blog that the planned integration may go beyond what occurred in New Zealand, with the aid programme ceasing to be an entity in any meaningful sense, and with aid being delivered via DFAT country desks. Possibly I’m misreading the blog, but were integration to take this form it would likely prove disastrous in the Australian context. Giving aid well requires expertise and a coherent community of staff who can share learning, and who are governed by norms of good practice. It is hard to see how this could exist absent a specialised aid department.
Other aspects of the upcoming changes are becoming clearer: staff cuts appear almost certain, and an email containing some of the principles governing reintegration planning can be found on the Development Policy Centre’s website.