Blog: How to Combat Aid Ineffectiveness in a Fragile State? Haiti’s Promising Journey

March 11, 2021

By Mr. Marc Anglade, National Coordinator of the External Aid Mechanism, Haiti

Between the earthquake of 12 January 2010 and a succession of devastating hurricanes thereafter, Haiti has appeared in the news often over the past decade. Beyond its high exposure to natural shocks, political crises are also making headlines. The successive “peyi lòk” (locked country in Creole) since July 2018, led to an institutional blockage which translated into a series of political events that exacerbated the already very deep socio-economic crisis of the country. These crises, combined with weak public policies, have resulted in 4.2 million people living with food insecurity in 2020; figures comparable to those of the Central African Republic or Somalia. Yet, billions have been flowing into Haiti over the years. On average, the country receives $ 1 billion in official development assistance (ODA) each year – part of which is still devoted to humanitarian aid.

Against this backdrop, Haiti, through the Technical Secretariat of the Coordination Framework for External Aid, decided to participate in the 3rd Monitoring Round of the Global Partnership. This exercise was an opportunity to objectively and impartially assess the state of development cooperation. Although the results were published during a time of political crisis, they helped launch a substantive process to address the challenge of development inefficiency in Haiti.

Despite the constant commitment of development partners, hand-in-hand with government partners, to work towards more effective development, the results showed a deficit in the implementation of the effectiveness principles of the Busan Partnership Agreement. The exercise revealed a lack of alignment from international cooperation partners to government priorities and identified some difficulty on the part of the government in establishing clear development priorities, even though an aid coordination mechanism already exists in the country.

In order to make the best use of the results published, work continued at a technical level through the production of a concept note presenting a diagnosis of the situation and a proposal to address the challenges. Concretely, with the technical support of the United Nations, the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation has identified the root causes of aid ineffectiveness in the country. The diagnosis included situation analysis, as well as a review of the effectiveness of the tools and mechanisms already in place. As part of this exercise, the 10 Global Partnership indicators to measure implementation of the effectiveness principles were used to identify strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the international cooperation and development tools management system.

What do results show about Haiti’s development cooperation and what actions are we taking?

The result is clear: cooperation is poorly aligned and does not use national systems, and failures appear in the country’s aid monitoring system. The analysis highlighted a different form of cooperation – as a substitute for government – which cannot lead to growth and that was reflected in various analyses. Beyond the intrinsic dysfunctions of national planning, which has not been reflected in short and medium-term strategic documents since 2016, tt should be noted that humanitarian needs – apart from those directly related to shocks – have become a regular need in Haiti. They are directly linked to development deficits, with deep-seated structural and systemic problems, which at times are so complex to resolve that they become gordian knots. Humanitarian needs are the symptoms and manifestations of these problems – issues of political, economic and institutional governance in particular.

A New Public Policy

Faced with this reality, the second part of the work began. How to respond to such challenges, which come from the intrinsic fragility of the country? It remains essential in a fragile context to put in place processes resistant to political crises and shocks that disrupt national planning. This is why Haiti has embarked on the elaboration of a public policy of international cooperation and management of external aid for 2021.

This public policy will aim to provide Haiti with a strategic framework for the implementation of its international cooperation relations with a special focus on South-South relations. It will also provide a framework for the management of external cooperation that will allow for the framing of international cooperation projects and programs using a multi-sectoral approach and revitalizing the Coordination Framework for External Aid. This policy will be carried out through broad consultation using the “whole-of-society” approach and a study to establish the impact of development cooperation in Haiti.

A Roadmap and Action Plan

Moreover, the country aims to address its fragility through collective action. The ultimate goal of development cooperation is to support Haiti in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Thus, the government finalized its roadmap and its action plan for the implementation of the SDGs. This Konbit pou Devlopman (the konbit brings together all the actors of a community to carry out a common action for the good of all) aims to involve all the actors of the Haitian society so they achieve hand-in-hand the objectives of sustainable development. The roadmap, therefore, establishes an approach that takes into account all the necessary aspects for the country’s development: from national planning tools to raising awareness among all layers of society. During the first SDG week, from 1 to 3 December 2020, government actors, the private sector, development workers, civil society organizations, the diaspora, and experts in development financing discussed the roadmap. Its adoption should make it possible to finalize a partnership framework between Haiti and its development partners, that would ensure all actors are committed to achieve the SDGs which guide every stage of Haiti’s development.

Looking Ahead: Action Dialogue 2021

Haiti has chosen a united and transparent response where effective partnerships are the very essence of future actions that will be carried out in 2021. As part of these efforts, Haiti is also among the first countries to confirm its participation in the Action Dialogue 2021, a flagship initiative launched by the Global Partnership Co-Chairs, that encourages countries to reflect on what effective development cooperation means for them today and how they can strengthen the effectiveness of cooperation and partnerships in the spirit of a ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘whole-of-society’ approach to sustainable development. This initiative will help enrich Haiti’s new public policy on international cooperation and management of external aid.

This article was originally published by the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. To visit their website, please click here.