Government Ownership Key to Successful EU Support to the Philippines
The European Commission’s experience in the Philippines in recent years has been marked by strong country ownership of development programming and implementation. This hands-on approach has proved to be a decisive factor in achieving effective aid interventions and could offer lessons for other countries.
Speaking on the sidelines of a recent seminar on Technical Cooperation Reform and Capacity Development, Anja Bauer from the European Union Delegation to the Philippines welcomed the government’s approach to dealing with development partners and their commitment to directing and managing aid priorities.
“They don’t accept it any more that you come in and say: ‘we want to do this, this, this and this’,” said Ms Bauer. “In the Philippines one has to be careful with that kind of approach and I think that is definitely one strength that makes it much more successful to do technical cooperation there.”
In her presentation delivered at the workshop, Ms Bauer explained how a previous Technical Cooperation programme in the Philippines was demand driven and well coordinated through a Technical Assistance coordination team. However the team remained contracted to the EU Delegation with incomplete accountability to the Philippines government. That changed in 2011, when responsibility for contracting and managing Technical Assistance was handed to the Philippines Department of Health. This is expected to be a significant step forward in further strengthening country ownership.
This EU funded Technical Cooperation takes place within the framework of a national health sector reform. Violetta Corpus, Assistant Director of the National Economic Development Authority’s Monitoring Staff stressed the importance of the commitment of senior staff in the Philippines government to that reform agenda.
“This health sector reform agenda is really something that came from the sector itself,” said Ms Corpus. “It’s driven, it’s owned and also the commitment of the technical staff – higher level technical staff directors and secretaries – they’re all really committed to pushing for this health sector reform agenda.”
The financing agreement in place as part of this health sector reform is aligned to a Capacity Development Plan developed and implemented by the Directorate of Health , which is helping to translate country-level demand into practical ownership.
The EU Delegation to the Philippines found similar success in a trade reform programme that benefitted from being closely aligned to government anti-corruption objectives. For more, read this related article on capacity4dev, http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/article/context-and-timing-contribute-trade-reform-success-philippines.
Increased ownership and demand driven development is one of the Aid Effectiveness Principles, as agreed by the development community in the Paris Declaration of 2005 and the Accra Agenda for Action of 2008.
As some 2,000 development representatives prepare to gather for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea next month, some experts expect issues of ownership and demand-driven aid to feature high on the agenda.