Assessing aid effectiveness at Accra forum

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Assessing aid effectiveness at Accra forum

29 August 2008

The Third High-Level Forum on Aid
Effectiveness takes place this week in

The Third High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness takes place this week in Ghana. To mark this event, we begin a new web series “Making the money work”. In coming months we will explore different aspects of aid effectiveness; how financial aid to countries can be made more effective, accountable and results-oriented.

Donors and development agencies are devoting more resources than ever to, among other development goals, the AIDS response in developing countries–welcome news for the millions of people infected and affected by the epidemic. However, many governments and organizations face significant challenges to use this aid effectively and to meet the multiple and often complex requirements of different donors. To address this, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has taken a leading role in helping countries to "make the money work".

Antonio A. Tujan Jr., Chair of the
International Steering Group of the
"CSO Parallel Forum on Aid
Effectiveness", addressed the Parallel
Forum in Accra ahead of the Third
High-Level Forum, 1 September 2008.
Credit: UNAIDS

The Third High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF) takes place 2-4 September 2008 in Accra and will bring together ministers from over 100 countries along with donors, civil society, UNAIDS, its Cosponsors and other development agencies.

UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot will participate as a member of the United Nations Development Group delegation.

Participants will take stock of how aid is being delivered and used, and plan and intensify efforts for improvement in aid effectiveness in the strengthening of health systems among other development goals.

“We are seeing improvements in how development aid is being planned and delivered, but results do not yet match commitments made in Paris in 2005. The AIDS response has championed more inclusive partnerships as being key and we have pioneered the principle of ownership through the 'three ones',” said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot.

“It has been our collective focus on AIDS results and accountability where the response has made most progress. Those results now need to be sustained. The Paris agenda sets the framework, but we must be ambitious in what we demand from the international community as we look to the future.”

Addressing flaws in aid delivery practices

Ghana Minister of Finance and
Economic Planning, Kwadwo Baah-
Wiredu addressed the CSO Parallel
Forum on Aid Effectiveness,
1 September 2008. Credit: UNAIDS

The meeting, organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the Government of Ghana, builds on the 2005 High-Level Forum when over 100 countries and organisations endorsed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

This is part of a larger movement spearheaded by organizations such as UNAIDS that started in the late 1990s when recipient countries brought forward that donors needed to support country priority setting and harmonize their approaches in order for the countries to be able to coordinate their AIDS efforts and make more efficient use of donor funding. Donors and aid agencies also progressively realized that the multiple requirements they imposed on countries drained precious resources and led to duplication of efforts.

The “Three Ones” principles

In 2004 at a High Level Meeting in Washington, UNAIDS took the lead in endorsing the “Three Ones” principles, which call for consolidation of AIDS efforts within a country and for support for partner countries to develop:

  1. one national AIDS action framework;
  2. one national AIDS coordinating authority; and
  3. one agreed country-level monitoring and evaluation system.

The “Three Ones” translate the Paris Declaration into action. Rather than having resources being used in a fragmented manner, leaving many gaps, these principles enable countries to focus them for a more efficient response.


Progress has been made in improving the alignment of global support for AIDS and in reducing the burden placed on countries and in the development and strengthening the quality of policies, institutions and processes that take the “Three Ones” principles forward.

This has resulted in improved quality and greater technical support for the development of national AIDS strategies, the mainstreaming of AIDS into development plans, development of joint UN teams on AIDS and joint programmes, and development of accountability tools. The report “Progress update and Lessons Learned from Aid Effectiveness in AIDS Responses” relates the lessons that UNAIDS has learned through its involvement in these processes.

Ghana’s experience with harmonization and coordination

Ghana is a fitting host for the Third HLF because it is a good example of harmonization in action, implementing the “Three Ones” and the recommendations of the GTT, and working towards greater alignment in its AIDS response for several years.

In 2006 Ghana established a joint UN team on AIDS, and has used participatory processes for decision-making among multiple stakeholders. This has strengthened the recognition of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) as the one national authority on AIDS. It has also fostered a strong sense of national ownership of the AIDS response which led to the development of a National Strategic Framework (2006-2010) with a single National Monitoring and Evaluation Plan, developed along the lines of the key principles of the “Three Ones”.

The GAC plans to further implement these principles, in part by strengthening its partnerships with donors and by reinforcing the abilities of national actors – including community-based organizations and the private sector – to contribute in a cohesive way to the national response. It also aims to improve systems for collecting, analyzing, sharing and using AIDS data, which will lead to more evidence-informed programming which will systematically address the needs of groups at higher risk of HIV.

More work to be done

Ghana however, like many countries, still faces challenges in coordinating multiple donors, projects and processes. More coherence is needed so that the UN can “deliver as one” and help countries to scale-up their response to AIDS. The Third HLF is seen as an important opportunity to assess progress, determine next steps and step up efforts among donors, countries and UN agencies.