NZADDs Update January 2015

Welcome to a new year and a new NZADDs update,

It’s been a while since we emailed and, in addition to the usual development news, this email will update you on NZADDs’ future and a little of what we’ve been up to.

Before we get to that though, on the other side of the Tasman, the Abbot Government has signalled it will dramatically cut Australian aid, starting with a cut of approximately 20 percent next financial year.

Such cuts are unprecedented. As Stephen Howes and Jonathan Pryke show in this Devpolicy blog, the cuts will be, in percentage terms, the largest ever to Australian aid, and will see Australia’s aid/GNI ratio falling to its lowest-ever point since the Australian government began maintaining comprehensive aid statistics. Even in the turbulent world of international aid giving cuts of this size are very rare, and will cause Australia’s standing as an aid donor to fall considerably. What remains to be seen is the cut’s impact on aid recipient counties, particularly countries in the Pacific where Australia is often the largest donor.

NZADDs and The Future
NZADDs members met late in 2014 to discuss our future. In terms of whether or not NZADDs had a future, that was a short discussion. We all agreed we wanted to keep NZADDs going. As a group run on volunteer power, the more lengthy discussion was how to maintain momentum and continue to make a contribution to analysis and discussion of NZ aid and development work. Overall, we agreed our model worked. One area we plan to revisit is membership, aiming to broaden involvement to allow for fluidity of active engagement according to individuals’ time availability. We refreshed our commitment to publish one or two working papers and/or commentaries each year, and potentially host one talk a year. We will maintain the NZADDs email Updates, as they are popular with about 600 subscribers. Finally, we welcomed  two new members to the NZADDs steering committee Andreas Neef and Sharon McLennan.

While we make a modest contribution, we’ve had great feedback on what NZADDs does. We also enjoy the work and feel we have something to offer to the NZ development community. All of this inspires us to keep going. Thank you for your support and feedback. We appreciate it.

NZADDs Meets DAC Peer Review Team
Approximately every five years, the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD assesses the NZ Government Aid Programme. The most recent DAC review of NZ’s aid programme commenced in late 2014. The DAC review was conducted alongside an additional review of New Zealand aid conducted by Pacific Island Forum Cairns Compact Review team. NZADDs members were provided the opportunity to speak in a joint meeting with both teams (something we are very grateful for). The discussion was wide-ranging, covering the NZ Aid Programme’s strategic focus, its community engagement, policy coherence and aid effectiveness. At the end, we were asked if we could agree on one key message we wished the two teams to take away. We were surprised by our rapid unanimity: NZ ODA should focus solely on development goals and objectives. You can see a brief summary of some of the key talking points we spoke to in our meetings with the review teams here.

DevNet 2014
On the subject of NZADDs and events, most of the core NZADDs team attended the 2014 DevNet conference at Otago University in November 2014. Thanks a lot to everyone who organised the conference! It was an excellent event, and we enjoyed our participation. Presentation slides and associated material from the conference can now be found on the DevNet website. On the subject of the DevNet website, you may not know that the website contains an excellent resource in the form of a database of the research theses produced by research students at New Zealand universities. In future updates we will profile some of these theses.

2015 Australasian Aid Conference
On February 12 and 13 the second annual Australasian Aid Conference will be taking place in Canberra at ANU. The conference is co-hosted by the Development Policy Centre and the Asia Foundation. In between the dramatic changes taking place in the world of Australian and the great list of participants, it promises to be a fascinating event. Registrations are now open. More information about the conference is here.

2015 ACFID Network Conference
Also coming up on the conference front is the 2015 ACFID University Network conference (more or less the Australian equivalent of DevNet). The conference theme is ‘Evidence and Practice in an age of Inequality’. The conference will be held on 4 and 5 June. The deadline for abstracts is 26 January. You can read more about the conference here.

Council for International Development’s Brief to the Incoming Government
In late 2014 the Council for International Development provided a briefing on good development practice to the returning National government. You can now read this briefing online here.

Other Reading
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the development world, the Washington Post has a fascinating blog post on the rise and fall of Invisible Children, the NGO behind the famous/infamous Kony 2012 video. In the London Review of Books James Meek tells the interesting tale of how the British military failed to learn lessons, including development lessons, amidst their travails in Helmand province. The journal Governance has good discussion on if and how the GFC has changed the thinking of the IMF. And the New Yorker has a superb piece on Samantha Power, journalist, author of the book ‘A Problem on Hell’ condemning global inaction in the face of genocide, and now central member of the Obama foreign policy team.