The 2015 Australian aid stakeholder survey: Australian Aid: Signs of Risk

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2015 Australian aid stakeholder survey released

The 2015 Australian Aid Stakeholder Survey, conducted by Devpolicy researchers Dr Terence Wood, Camilla Burkot, and Professor Stephen Howes, has found a perceived decline in the effectiveness of Australian aid in the past two years.

The survey, launched at the 2016 Australasian Aid Conference, also found that while the majority continue to believe that Australian aid is effective, they now rate Australian aid as less effective than the average Western donor.

“Some of this is due to the budget cuts, which have played havoc with funding predictability,” said lead survey author, Terence Wood, a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre, based at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

“Further aid cuts scheduled for this year’s budget, another $224 million, will make a bad situation worse.”

The 2015 survey is the second undertaken by the Development Policy Centre. The first survey was held in 2013 before the integration of AusAID with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and before the largest ever cuts to the foreign aid as part of the 2015-16 Federal Budget.

The survey also points to other issues of concern.

Stakeholders perceive a loss of strategic clarity, and a reduced emphasis on using foreign aid to help the poor versus emphasising Australia’s own interests.

Three quarters of respondents view staff expertise as a weakness of the aid program - up from half in 2013 - and say that the merger with DFAT has had a negative impact on aid staff effectiveness.

Transparency and community engagement have also gone from being strengths of the aid program to weaknesses.

“The survey provides valuable and constructive feedback to the government on what it needs to do to restore confidence in and improve the effectiveness of Australian aid,” said Development Policy Centre Director and report co-author, Professor Stephen Howes.

“The individuals that we surveyed are those who are trusted to implement the Australian aid program. Their warnings should be heeded.”

The next Australian aid stakeholder survey will be conducted in 2017.

The full survey report, Australian aid: signs of risk - the 2015 Australian aid stakeholder survey, was launched at the 2016 Australasian Aid Conference on Thursday 11 February. A recording of the launch can be viewed here. A blog post summarising the report can be found here.