Why Countries Need a Donor Monitor
By David Lempert | January 16, 2008What goes wrong in international development assistance is not the amounts of the aid or the conditions attached to it—the standard debate between North and South. The heart of the problem is one of management incentives for the international actors providing assistance.
The solution is as much a managerial or administrative problem than it is one about empathy. It is about finding a way to change the incentives in organizations that lack the checks that one finds in business, in other areas of government, or in domestic NGOs. Given that there is almost no real direct accountability of any of the international development agents either to the beneficiaries (and their cultures and environments) or to the international public, change is not going to happen from within the organizations themselves. It needs to come from without, through new kinds of monitoring—country Donor Monitors, seeking to regulate the industry and its standards in each donor country and also monitoring overall impacts.
This article helps to define the problem and outline the role of this new kind of oversight organization representing public interests at the end of the recipient beneficiaries (and usually that of future generations that require the protections) and of the aid contributors or taxpayers who give their money in a kind of blind trust that experts will use it appropriately for the long-term benefit of mankind in places far away, difficult to understand, and undesirable to visit to monitor the results.
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