Experts urge steps to help Tanzania use aid effectively

A group of experts commissioned by the Government is proposing ways for Tanzania to improve coordination with donors to make more effective use of aid in reducing poverty.
Tanzania receives about US$1 billion a year from international agencies and donor countries to promote development and reduce poverty. One in five Tanzanians live in severe poverty, surviving on less than a dollar a day.

The experts' report calls for strengthening government financial systems and recommends that donors channel all assistance through the national budget to enhance the predictability of aid flows. The group also calls for finding innovative ways to use technical assistance. One such use could be setting up a national HIV/AIDS programme covering all sectors.

The report says that the Government should be more willing to refuse aid deemed inconsistent with national policies and that the Government and donors should improve coordination of their annual consultations.

Called the Independent Monitoring Group, the team consists of six Tanzanian and international experts headed by Professor Samuel Wangwe of the Economic and Social Research Foundation, based in Dar es Salaam. Its recently presented report, based on a year-long study, concludes that the ability of the Government and public agencies to manage aid effectively is a key issue.

UNDP is co-funding the initiative and providing administrative support to the group. The other partners are UNICEF, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and the US.

UNDP Resident Representative John Hendra called the group's work a good example of how UNDP brings various partners together to build government capacity to manage aid. "The initiative encourages all partners to pull together, helping to ensure that aid is used effectively for implementation of the national poverty reduction strategy," he said.

The Ministry of Finance called the report's conclusions "valuable", noting that they will be discussed by the Government and its development partners to help strengthen aid coordination. These efforts can boost progress towards halving poverty by 2015 and other Millennium Development Goals.

The group's work stems from reports by Canadian Professor Gerald Helleiner of the University of Toronto pointing to problems that undercut aid's impact on reducing poverty. Among these are onerous reporting requirements, unpredictable aid flows that undermine government planning, and excessive use of technical assistance beyond government control.

The group's recommendations will be considered in preparing the action plan for the Tanzania Assistance Strategy, a government policy document that focuses development aid towards national policy objectives.

For further information please contact Lena Renju, lena.renju@undp.org, UNDP Tanzania, or Cassandra Waldon, cassandra.waldon@undp.org, UNDP Communications Office.