Turkey to strengthen development assistance

01 Apr 2010

Turkey aims to strengthen its position in international development cooperation, through assessing the capacity of its national development agency TİKA.

New Horizons - On her visit to Turkey in the scope of TİKA’s capacity assessment conducted within the framework of Bridging South-South Cooperation and Emerging Donor Roles project in January, Daša Šilovic, senior policy advisor of the Bureau for Development Policy’s Capacity Development Group and the chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) on Aid Effectiveness said “The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) is making an effort, through its capacity development programme to strengthen its staff competencies to better position Turkey in the recipient country aid environment and to better align Turkish assistance with local, national and regional development priorities.”

In an interview with New Horizons Šilovic presented a general overview of aid effectiveness and highlighted the role of Turkey in aligning itself with international aid effectiveness principles.

Just as a general entry point, what is aid effectiveness and how is UNDP involved?

Let me start by stressing that aid is only one of the instruments for financing development. We are actually talking about development effectiveness and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through the delivery of international commitments on aid quantity (volumes) and aid quality (effectiveness).

There is nothing instant about development. Only development disruptions are instant. Development cooperation history and the UN’s own experience at country level demonstrate that the sustainability of the development process, irrespective of challenges and disruptions, relies heavily on strong and resilient country capacities developed over time, whether individual or those of institutions and organisations.

Despite the financial crisis, and as the global and regional aid environment expands with new actors, development cooperation is expected to retain its role as one of the important instruments for financing development. The development of efficient tools and institutional capacities to effectively plan and monitor internal and external investments to the development process are the basis for country ownership and accountability for results, as well as for the sustainability of the development effort.

The role of the United Nations development system, and indeed UNDP, at country level is neither that of a major financier nor that of traditional donor. The goal of UNDP is to advance human development by expanding opportunities and deepening people’s ability to reach their development potential. To make that happen, the core contribution of UNDP is strengthening national capacities in a way that supports human development. UNDP support, whether financed through nationally-executed and implemented programmes and projects or through sector budget support funds and pooled funds, remains the same: (a) within its given mandate areas, (b) in sectors where it is already participating; and (c) in connection with its capacity development role and support at the country level.

The United Nations development system facilitates the access of countries to sources of development finance; provides policy and technical services, as needed; and strengthens national capacities to respond to continuing and emerging challenges. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) provides the basis for United Nations development system financing for policy and programme support. This instrument outlines the overall United Nations support to the development priorities of each country.

The resident coordinator system and United Nations country teams are tasked with intensifying capacity development interventions in support of country-owned aid policy, national aid coordination mechansims and aid management (including aid management systems). Policy and technical services provided to support transparent financial management, the promotion of peer learning, and capacity development through cross-country exchanges in areas such as leadership skills, diagnostic and implementation capacities, knowledge services and training, as well as institutional reform, are capacity-enhancing efforts funded through individual projects as well as through sector programmes financed using the mechanism of pooled funds.

The above-mentioned services are offered with a common recognition of the comparative advantage of the United Nations development system, with its neutrality and universality, in a changing aid environment and in line with the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, 2007. This makes possible critical inter-governmental actions in which the characteristics of multilateralism are most in demand – to service global norms and standards; to support global public goods and services; and to help address development challenges, such as post-conflict situations, as well as emerging challenges, such as climate change and food crises. The UNDG approach and response to the changing aid environment recognizes country specificity and the need to adapt of approaches and instruments to the local aid and development finance context.

Finally, the UNDP’s Global Programme on Capacity Development for Aid Effectiveness – managed by the Bureau for Development Policy’s Capacity Development Group (BDP/CDG) at headquarters in cooperation with UNDP regional centres as well as with country advisers through a community of practice (CoP) – provides, upon demand, support for capacity development (CD) on aid management and coordination to over ninety programme countries worldwide.

Is there a system to monitor aid effectiveness?

The United Nations, within its Financing for Development process, monitors the implementation of the six thematic chapter headings of the Monterrey Consensus (2002) document: mobilizing domestic financial resources for development; mobilizing international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows; international trade as an engine for development; increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development; external debt; and addressing systemic issues: enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development. The UN Secretary General reports on progress to the General Assembly on a regular basis. These can be found at www.un.org/esa/ffd/.

Equally the UN ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum is tasked with monitoring aid quality and mutual accountability around aid delivery and its effectiveness.

The Paris Declaration commits donors and partner countries to increase efforts in the harmonization, alignment and management of aid for results, with a set of monitorable actions and indicators. Through the Paris Declaration, donors and partner countries committed to monitoring their progress in improving aid effectiveness. They agreed on 56 specific actions and 12 indicators against which they would measure this progress, setting targets for 2010. Monitoring is a distinctive feature of the Paris Declaration, providing a means of making sure that donors and partner countries act upon the commitments they have made.

The Accra Agenda for Action builds on these commitments. The 2011 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration will follow previous surveys conducted in 2006 and 2008, and will be critical in determining whether the targets set in the Paris Declaration for 2010 have been met. These results will form a key contribution to discussions at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Seoul, 2011). For the previous progress report, as well as the evaluation conducted by the OECD DAC, please click here.

Finally, the UNDP’s Global Programme on Capacity Development for Aid Effectiveness – managed by the Bureau for Development Policy’s Capacity Development Group (BDP/CDG) at headquarters in cooperation with UNDP regional centres as well as with country advisers through a community of practice (CoP) – provides, upon demand, support for capacity development (CD) on aid management and coordination to over ninety programme countries worldwide.

Finally, there is a broad agreement that aid transparency is a necessary pre-condition for genuine national ownership and leadership of the development process and underpins the other principles of the PD and more broadly the Millennium Declaration and the IADG. It also facilitates mutual and domestic accountability. Aid transparency has a distinct added value during the financial crisis when aid budgets are cut, the MDGs are strained and the predictability of aid flows is jeopardized. Aid transparency empowers partner countries and citizens in donor and recipient countries to know for whom, when, for what purpose and how aid money is being spent. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), of which UNDP is a member, is welcomed as a concrete mechanism to bridge the gap between commitments and their realization.

Can you please provide a general overview about the current developments in Aid Effectiveness?

The current aid environment offers new opportunities for efficient development financing through a series of international commitments on aid quality and a diversity of aid modalities and development assistance actors. However, the persisting challenges remain, which are to ensure more coherence and harmonization among multiple development partners, strong country leadership, alignment of aid with the country-defined development plans and priorities, as well as the use of national systems for delivery of aid. Please click here for more information.

What are your perceptions on Turkish cooperation and the role of Turkey in Official Development Assistance (ODA)?

The Government of Turkey is highly committed to further position Turkey as a prominent player in the international development cooperation arena and to honour its UN and other international commitments by contributing to development effectiveness and achievement of the MDGs.

The main thrust of TIKA development assistance is in sectors such as education, health, agriculture and infrastructural projects. Cultural ties and cooperation with Turkish populations is also under TIKA implementation, to help them maintain their identity but also integrate into the local communities and support the development of the country.

Speaking at the Coordination Committee Meeting in January 2010, State Minister Faruk Celik said the agency was working to raise its project coordination offices in 23 countries to 30. The coordination offices will be opened in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan and 2 African countries. With a budget exceeding 100 million, a review of TİKA's law is also high on the agenda. With the envisaged expansion both geographically and in terms of budget, there is a need to establish stronger capacities in several areas of TIKA to provide the institutional basis needed to support this expansion.

What must be done to align Turkish cooperation with the Paris Declaration Principles?

In setting up development cooperation, including constitutional and legal provisions, there is no set of global rules, but rather different practices across countries that provide development assistance. It is an internal decision on how a government will rule and manage its development assistance. In this sense, learning from others is always an important opportunity to assess how a country will position itself in the international aid environment and govern its development assistance provision. Having said this, international commitments on the quantity and quality of aid, including the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action, provide a framework for countries to scale up and improve the quality and effectiveness of their development assistance.

The Turkish development agency is making an effort, through its capacity development programme to strengthen its staff competencies to better position Turkey in the recipient country aid environment, better align Turkish assistance with country, regional and local development priorities and expand the scope of Turkish donorship. In this, Turkey is following the commitments made in the Paris declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action. Turkey is also engaging increasingly in the international dialogue on development assistance. UNDP looks forward to expanding cooperation with Turkey and specifically TIKA on these issues and in supporting its capacities.

Learning, knowledge sharing and dialogue on lessons learnt is an important component of the growing relationship and cooperation between UNDP and TIKA on issues related to aid effectiveness. UNDP also looks forward to expanding cooperation with TIKA within the multilateral development assistance framework and in countries where Turkish development assistance is delivered through triangular or other arrangements.