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New Oxfam paper on aid donor-private sector partnerships

An Oxfam International Briefing Paper, Faith is not enough: ensuring that aid donor-private sector partnerships contribute to sustainable development was published on 8 July 2019. The paper assesses donor-private sector partnerships (DPPs) of key donors (USA, France and the EU, pages 26-33) based on a framework with 6 components:

• Demonstration of sustainable development objectives;

• Demonstration of additionality;

• Adherence to aid and development effectiveness principles;

• Respecting mandatory and voluntary standards for private sector operations;

• Demonstration of due diligence and risk management;

• Provision of sound monitoring and evaluation processes.

Although the main focus is not on agricultural partnerships, four agricultural partnerships were assessed (Netherlands' project for roses in Ethiopia, the IDH Cocoa Programme, Tim Horton's Coffee Partnership in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia, and Turning avacado waste into green energy, pages 41-43). The briefing also includes a short review of the agricultural partnerships in a textbox (p. 33):

An Oxfam assessment of DPPs in agriculture found all of the partnerships focus primarily on commercializing value chains to promote food security or support private sector development and growth. The review questioned the extent to which these DPPs define their development objectives in terms of final impacts on poverty reduction, food security, inequality, gender equality and environmental sustainability. All programmes and partnerships looked at the number of jobs created, number of farmers taking credit and so forth (quantitative data), without however looking sufficiently at impacts on poverty, gender or inequality (qualitative data). The most commercially viable small-holders were more likely to attract investment than those operating on the margins, who are unlikely to attract private investors, even with ODA or other public de-risking. These marginalized small-holders, more often women than men, are likely to be left further behind, potentially increasing income and gender inequality.

The briefing considers that aid donors increasingly assume uncritically that private-sector partnerships are crucial for global development. In the right context and with the right regulatory frameworks in place, it argues that the private sector can generate growth that reduces poverty and economic and gender inequality, concluding that donor engagement with for-profit entities entails important inherent risks. Donors must institute checks and balances so partnerships ‘do no harm.’ If Official Development Assistance is involved, the partnership must ‘do good.’ Oxfam reviewed nine donors and 20 partnerships, finding that donors fail to sufficiently integrate development, human rights and environmental principles and standards. They inconsistently implement due diligence and risk management requirements, and development impact assessments are inadequate. Oxfam recommends donors put measures in place to ensure their partnerships with private actors reliably result in people-centred and sustainable development.

The paper was written by former Oxfam International Policy Advisor Hilary Jeune, and draws on research carried out for Oxfam in 2016 and 2017 by Shannon Kindornay and Claire Godfrey.


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Sarah Cummings
12 July 2019

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