The Reality of Aid (RoA) project is the only major North/South international initiative focused exclusively on analysing and lobbying for poverty eradication policies and practices in international aid. The RoA network believes that aid must have a clear, exclusive focus on poverty:
The promotion of donor short-term foreign policy interests, so common over
three decades in the allocation of aid resources, must give way to a mandate
for ODA that focuses exclusively on poverty reduction and the rights of poor
and vulnerable people.(22)
Vulnerable people include indigenous groups, persecuted ethnic groups and classes, as well as victims of environmental degradation. The priority given to security, which focuses mainly on the Western preoccupation with the ‘war on terror’, must be removed from the official criteria of aid. Instead, international assistance needs to be guided by international human rights and humanitarian laws, closely aligned with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
From this perspective aid must also promote local ownership in conflict resolution, which will ensure peace is a process owned by locals, not introduced from the outside. Aid should support and protect spaces for inclusive processes allowing the people involved to build frameworks for peace. Donors must assist by investing in conflict prevention, which can reduce the costly reconstruction of societies hit by conflict.
The RoA network promotes donor harmony with bilateral, multilateral organisations and NGOs working towards the same goal of poverty alleviation guided by a collective focus on human rights.
Another voice in the aid debate is Make Poverty History (MPH). MPH is a “non-partisan coalition of more than 60 aid organisations, community and faith-based organisations” which encourages all political parties to move towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. MPH argues that aid is an important strategy for achieving the MDGs.
However, if aid is to work effectively in assisting the poor it needs to be accompanied by a just global trade environment.
(22) For a more detailed breakdown of aid trends and themes, see the 2006 Reality of Aid report online