A three-day conference on women and development in Cambodia wrapped up yesterday at the InterContinental hotel with seminars on how to make aid more effective, though there were differing views on how to even measure this.
Bernard Pearce, AusAID’s Ending Violence Against Women advisor, emphasised the importance of data in measuring effectiveness. “We need data, data is vital to tell the story of effective aid and effective development,” he said.
The representative of the EU delegation to Cambodia, Christian Provost, encouraged a more qualitative approach, saying that in the past too much focus had been placed on “outputs, research and the delivery of some workshops”.
Belinda Mericourt, a UNDP consultant on aid effectiveness, called for a “program-based approach” that would “strengthen linkages between policy, budget planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation”.
“These processes tend to be separate at the moment and they need stronger links,” she added.
Mericourt also called for the need for “well-coordinated partnerships between government, development partners, and civil society organisations”.
“It can’t be an ‘us and them’ mentality, it needs to be a working together mentality” she explained.
Gender and Development for Cambodia executive director Ros Sopheap echoed calls for enhanced cooperation to achieve goals. “Even though we are working in different ways, we must bring a unified voice so we can bring attention to one focus point and ensure success and ultimately achieve our goals,” she said.
The government is a critical link in this chain, said Nhean Sochetra, director of the gender equality department at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
She urged civil society organisations, development partners and NGOs to utilise “the existing mechanisms set-up by the government in order to work together to achieve common goals,” such as the Technical Working Group on Gender and Gender Mainstreaming Action Groups.
Although efforts at cooperation are underway, Ros Sopheap said that they are “not yet holistic”.
The challenge of effective aid was something all the development partners agreed upon.
Cooperation Committee for Cambodia executive director Borithy Lunn lamented the selfish nature of some bilateral aid.
“Most aid granted to developing countries is related to the economic, political and security interests of donor countries, instead of the recipient countries,” he said. “There is more taking than giving back.”
“Some programs, like USAID, put restrictions on aid, like for example, a technical assistant must be an American citizen. Why is there such a restriction?” he said.