Governance Assessments: Do We Need More of Them?
Donors face strong incentives to undertake their own assessment of the governance situation in partner countries, with various objectives responding to different needs. Still, quite often, there is space for better coordination. The need for each donor to make their own country assessment, especially when other assessments already exist, can often be questioned.
Currently there are about 45 donor-driven general assessment methodologies, yet there is only limited donor interest in investing in partner country capacities to diagnose governance challenges.
In a bid to enhance the effectiveness of governance assessments and generate greater harmony between donors, the OECD DAC produced the sourcebook "Donor Approaches to Governance Assessments".
In the process, the DAC developed a consensus among its members on five guiding principles. The Sourcebook further explains how and why these principles can be balanced according to the purpose(s) of the assessment and to country context.
In brief, the five guiding principles are:
- Build on and strengthen nationally driven governance assessments.
- Identify a clear key purpose to drive the choice of assessment tools and processes.
- Assess and address governance from different entry points and perspectives.
- Harmonise assessments at country level when the aim is to stimulate dialogue and governance reform.
- Make results public unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.
More background information on how and why donors assess governance in partner countries can be found in a DAC survey. This survey found that assessments are primarily undertaken to meet donor needs, decisions and concerns and not those of the partner country. Typically, these include allocating aid to and between countries, informing aid strategies, incentivising dialogue with partners on how they ought to improve governance, managing risks or enhancing accountability to donors.
Together with nine country cases this survey served as inputs for a DAC-sponsored international conference (London, February 2008) in which donor practitioners and experts from partner countries discussed ways to improve the effectiveness of their assessment practices. While it remains unlikely that donors will develop a single, unifying assessment tool in the short-term, there is ample scope for greater cooperation to match tools and purposes more cleverly.
The DAC website provides links to all these documents and to other material on governance assessments. These include:
- A two pager on ‘Donor Approaches to Governance Assessments: Guiding principles for enhanced impact, usage and harmonisation' with purpose and some background to the guiding principles