Development effectiveness: towards new understandings

Development effectiveness: towards new understandings

What is development effectiveness?

In the past decade, official aid policy debates have increasingly focused on improving aid effectiveness which has led to the development of international frameworks for donors and developing countries. According to this brief, aid effectiveness refers to how effective aid is in achieving expected outputs and stated objectives of aid interventions. As per the Paris Declaration, the term is defined as the 'arrangement for the planning, management and deployment of aid that is efficient, reduces transaction costs and is targeted towards development outcomes including poverty reduction.'

On the other hand, the brief observes, aid actors are also interested in development effectiveness, a term which lacks clarity leaving it open to considerable scope for interpretation. The term is used differently by different actors in different contexts. The brief suggests the following four categories to help in understanding the term development effectiveness:

  • Development effectiveness as organizational effectiveness - where development effectiveness is considered from the supply side in terms of how well an organization is achieving its stated goals and objectives
  • Development effectiveness as coherence or coordination - where it is viewed in terms of coordinating actions and the consistency of development-related policies
  • Development effectiveness as the development outcomes from aid - where aid is measured in terms of development outcomes
  • Development effectiveness as overall development outcomes - which overlaps with other understandings of the term but is the most comprehensive approach of the four categories. Here, it is seen as a measure of the overall development process, not just restricted to outcomes from aid.
The brief concludes and makes recommendations for further research as follows:
  • a successful agenda on development effectiveness should depend on concerted efforts between developing country governments and official aid donors basing on their willingness to reformulate the current effectiveness agenda
  • there should be an appropriate forum, like the UN Development Cooperation Forum, where stakeholders can debate the issues and make joint commitments
  • the creation of a development effectiveness agenda will require a level of agreement on the operational meaning of the term.