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Chapter 3 Australia’s Aid Program
This chapter examines Australia’s aid program in Africa. It begins with
a discussion of the international agreements and declarations that inform Australia’s
aid program. The Chapter then discusses Australia’s Official Development
Assistance (ODA) to Africa, as well as NGO and private sector initiatives.
Next, some important criticisms that arose during the inquiry are examined. The
Chapter concludes with a discussion of the responses to these criticisms.
Australia’s aid program more generally has been significantly influenced
by the following agreements and declarations:
- The Paris
- The Accra Agenda for
- The Millennium
The Paris Declaration
The Paris Declaration was endorsed by over 100 countries in March 2005.
It aims at increasing aid effectiveness, and commits ‘countries and
organisations to continue to increase efforts in harmonisation, alignment and
managing aid’ through five principles. These principles are:
‘Developing countries set their own strategies for poverty reduction, improve
their institutions and tackle corruption’.
- Alignment. ‘Donor
countries align behind these objectives and use local systems’.
- Harmonisation. ‘Donor
countries coordinate, simplify procedures and share information to avoid
- Results. ‘Developing
countries and donors shift focus to development results and results get
accountability. ‘Donors and partners are accountable for development results’.
The Accra Agenda for Action
The Accra Agenda arose in 2008 in order to build on the Paris
Declaration, and accelerate progress towards increased aid effectiveness. It
added four more elements to the Paris Declaration, which are:
- Predictability. ‘Donors
will provide 3—5 year forward information on their planned aid to partner
- Country systems.
‘Partner country systems will be used to deliver aid as the first option,
rather than donor systems’.
‘Donors will switch from reliance on prescriptive conditions about how and when
aid money is spent to conditions based on the developing country’s own
- Untying. ‘Donors will
relax restrictions that prevent developing countries from buying the goods and
services they need from whomever and wherever they can get the best quality at
the lowest price’.
The Millennium Development Goals
The Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda were designed, in part, to
support faster progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development
Goals (MGDs) through increased effectiveness of aid. The MDGs were agreed to in
September 2000 by the member states of the United Nations, and consist of eight
goals. They were formulated along with quantitative measures of their success,
with the intention of that they be achieved by 2015.
The MDGs are:
- (MDG 1) Eradicate
extreme hunger and poverty. Firstly, this is to be achieved by halving, between
1990 and 2015, both the proportion of people earning less than $1 a day and the
proportion of people suffering from hunger; and secondly through the
achievement of ‘full and productive employment’ for every person.
- (MDG 2) Achieve
universal primary education. This goal will be achieved by ensuring that every
child in the world will ‘be able to complete a full course of primary
- (MDG 3) Promote gender
equality and empower women. This goal is to be achieved by eliminating the
disparity between men and women in primary and secondary education. It was to
have been achieved by 2005, or failing that, by 2015.
- (MDG 4) Reduce child
mortality. This goal is to be achieved by a two-thirds reduction in the 1990
under-five mortality rate by 2015.
- (MDG 5) Improve
maternal health. This goal is to be achieved by a two-thirds reduction in the
1990 maternal mortality ratio by 2015, and achieve universal access to maternal
- (MDG 6) Combat HIV/AIDS,
malaria and other diseases. This goal is to be achieved by halting and
reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria. Furthermore, there should be
access to HIV/AIDS treatment to those affected by 2010.
- (MDG 7) Ensure
environmental sustainability. There are several facets to this MDG:
the loss of environmental resources by ensuring sustainability is integrated
into country and donor policies and programs;
by 2010, a ‘significant reduction in the rate of loss’ of biodiversity;
- halve the
proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015; and
by 2020, a ‘significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum
- (MDG 8) Develop a
global partnership for development. Again, this MDG has several facets:
the special needs of least developed countries, landlocked countries, and small
island developing states’;
an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading system’;
comprehensively with developing countries’ debt’;
access to affordable life-saving medicines in developing countries, by working
with pharmaceutical companies; and
available to benefits of technological developments, particularly information
and communications technology, with the cooperation of the private sector.
Countries and institutions in Africa are committed to the MDGs. In 2007,
the African Union (AU) and the United Nations convened the MDG Africa Steering
Group to ‘bring together the leaders of multilateral development organisations
to identify’ practical steps that could be taken towards achieving the MDGs.
The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) noted
during the inquiry that most of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa ‘are not on
track to meet the MDGs by 2015’, and that MDGs 1,4,5,6 and 7 are ‘particularly
AusAID advised the Committee that Australia, recognising ‘the importance
of partners in delivering’ its aid program, was committed to working with
multilateral and regional partners such as the UN, AU, the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community
(SADC). This also accords with
the Paris Declaration and the Accra Accord. In this regard, AusAID was also
working to provide targeted bilateral aid in priority areas and sectors, and
was also working to ‘develop effective partnerships with other like-minded
The Committee notes the value of using the MDGs as a guide to the
provision of development assistance. Furthermore, the MDGs focus aid in such a
way that it will do the most good in terms of alleviating suffering and
The Accra Accord, while providing more certainty to developing countries
in terms of aid predictability, does potentially carry some drawbacks,
particularly in Africa. Decreasing conditionality and utilising country systems
has the potential to increase the scope for corruption, especially in countries
where corruption is widespread or endemic.
However, using country systems also helps to target aid where it is most
effective, because African countries are better placed to determine where aid
should be targeted than outsiders. Furthermore, decreased conditionality and
untying of aid allows the flexibility required to use aid money as efficiently
and effectively as possible.
Australian Aid to Africa
The Australian Government and Australian companies and citizens provide
three types of aid to Africa:
- official development
- aid money donated and
administered by NGOs; and
- individual and
private sector initiatives.
Official Development Assistance
Australia’s ODA to Africa, administered by AusAID, in the past has been
modest, but it has been increasing in recent years. Budget papers for 2011–12
show actual AusAID expenditure on Africa in 2009–10 was $103 million; the
estimated outcome for 2010–11 was $173 million; and the Budget estimate for
2011–12 was $218 million.
If the activities of other Australian Government agencies which can be
classified as ODA are included, the figures increase. For example, the actual
ODA expenditure for 2009–10 rises to $170 million (compared to the $103 million
AusAID component). This constitutes about
five percent of Australia’s overall aid budget.
In comparison, Australian ODA constitutes less than one percent of the total annual
ODA provided to Africa.
In line with this modest contribution, AusAID employs 26 people in
Africa, including 10 “aid based and locally engaged staff’.
In delivering ODA to Africa, given Australia’s ‘comparatively modest’
contribution, AusAID focuses its efforts both geographically and, in terms of
the MDGs, on four of the MDGs. The aim is to utilise Australia’s comparative
advantage in the following three areas:
- agriculture and food security;
- water and sanitation;
- maternal and child
Australia’s ODA is delivered primarily ‘through partnerships with organisations
that have experience or expertise in the areas of focus’. These organisations
- African institutions;
- multilateral and
- community based
Agriculture and Food Security
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of food insecurity in the world.
Given Australia’s ‘expertise and experience in agricultural research’, a large
part of AusAID’s activities in Africa are focused on agriculture and food
production in support of MDG 1. This initiative is focused on:
- improving livelihoods
by assisting ‘to address market failures’ hindering rural development; and
- ‘supporting social
protection mechanisms such as school feeding programs’.
Delivery is through a variety of means. AusAID channels some of the
assistance through NGOs working in communities to help improve small farmers’
incomes. Some of the aid is used to fund projects run by the Australian Centre
for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which is engaged in several
projects in southern Africa.
AusAID also assists in capacity building in key regional organisations
focused on improving agricultural production in nearly all of the regions of
Sub-Saharan Africa. Direct food aid is given
to Zimbabwe as part of a wider bilateral program. (Zimbabwe is the largest
recipient of Australian bilateral assistance on the African continent.)
Water and Sanitation
Given that as many as 42 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africans live without
access to safe drinking water, and 69 per cent live without access to basic
AusAID focuses on ‘infrastructure investments aimed at improving access to
clean water and sanitation’, particularly outside the larger cities. This
targets MDG 7. Again, AusAID delivers this assistance through a variety of
Some of this assistance is channelled bilaterally. Mozambique has been
the ‘prime focus’ due to its having one of the lowest water and sanitation
coverage rates in the region — only 47 percent of its population has access to
Funds for sanitation and clean water are also used to support regional
initiatives, such as the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program. Finally,
some of the funding goes to support the activities of Australian and international
NGOs in Africa focused on the urban poor and ‘remote and island areas’.
Bilateral and Multilateral Channels
ACFID was critical of how Australian ODA was delivered in Africa, saying
that AusAID ‘overly’ favoured ‘channelling taxpayer funds through bilateral
arrangements and multilateral institutions’. ACFID told the Committee that instead
AusAID should ‘prioritise increased engagement with, and support of’ Australian
NGOs. Furthermore, this would help promote ‘the Australian identity of
The lack of Australian identity for some ODA contributions was brought
to the Committee Delegation’s attention when it visited Zimbabwe. Both
Zimbabwean Government and Parliamentary members were unaware of Australia’s
contribution to reviewing the Zimbabwe Constitution because it had been
delivered through multilateral partners. Also several of the aid projects
visited by the Delegation were not 'badged' as having received Australian aid.
AusAID responded to the criticisms of aid being channelled through
multilateral organisations by commenting that, in line with the Paris
Australia recognises that aid can be most effective where
efforts are aligned with African institutions, multilateral partners and other
donors ... Working through multilateral and regional partners spreads the reach
and impact of Australia’s aid program and provides Australia with a “seat at
the table” in policy dialogue.
Australian Government partnerships with multilateral,
regional, or bilateral agencies include agreement to undertake efforts to
achieve public recognition of the relevant partnership, and Australia’s
contribution to any outcomes. [...] This could include through
messages/information, case studies and/or logos in: promotional materials,
media releases and speeches, websites and other online media, and signage at
project sites and events. Heads of Mission are also active in participating in
the opening of activities.
A large proportion of the money donated by Australians to NGOs goes to
Africa. In 2008, nearly 35 percent of these funds were used in NGO programs in
Africa. In dollar terms, this amounts to $280 million in 2007—8,
and $323 million in 2008—9. This money was used to
support programs in 39 African countries.
Australian NGOs have generated considerable expertise in a few areas,
and given their extensive experience on the ground in Africa are well aware of
priority areas for assistance. The programs they are engaged in are varied and
diverse, and include such areas as:
- HIV/AIDS and health;
- food security and
- refugees and
internally displaced persons;
- literacy and
- rural development;
- child sponsorship and
children’s issues more generally.
CARE Australia drew attention to the ways in which Australian NGOs add
value to Australia's official aid program:
- ability to build
civil society capacity in African countries;
- ability to link
communities to broader policy and program efforts;
- orientation towards
learning, experimenting and innovation;
- ability to work in
places where direct bilateral engagement is not desirable or possible;
- capacity to respond
quickly and effectively to major humanitarian emergencies, and to transition to
effective post-emergency recovery efforts; and
- high degree of
Proposals from NGOs
ACFID made a number of recommendations, some of which are discussed
above in the section on ODA. Others include:
- Concentrating on a
limited geographical area within Africa, particularly those most in need of
additional resources and where Australia’s comparative advantage will be the
greatest. ACFID proposed that Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique South Africa,
Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe be prioritised.
- Increasing ‘the
amount of aid channelled through civil society organisations’.
- Increasing the
2015-16 aid commitment from 0.5% to 0.7% of Gross National Income’.
- Focusing the
scholarship program on education opportunities based in Africa and
inter-African exchanges, and increasing the focus on retaining expertise in Africa.
- Utilising the
comparative advantage developed by NGOs in the following areas:
approaches at the community level;
- ‘HIV and
AIDS prevention, care, mitigation, and support’;
rights of women and children, and the rights of marginalised groups more
survival and participation in decisions that affect them.
- Increasing the focus
on adaptation to the effects of climate change.
- Strengthening the
commitment to protecting ‘civilians in high-risk areas’, including Sudan.
- In relation to trade
issues, ensuring multilateral trade agreements meet the ‘human development
needs of poor countries’, ‘reduce or eliminate agricultural subsidies’, and
‘acknowledge the limitations’ African developing countries faced in
liberalising their economies and agricultural markets.
Vision 2020 proposed an increase in funding to increase the focus on
preventable blindness in Africa. Building on the success of a similar program
in the Asia-Pacific, Vision 2020 commented that Australia was in an ideal
position to ‘assume a leadership role in efforts to eliminate avoidable
blindness in Africa’ and ‘act as a catalyst for further resource allocation
from other stakeholders’.
According to Vision 2020,
The more broadly we spread our reach probably the less impact
it has and the less effective it is. When we focus on those areas where we
really are global leaders already, we can simply do more with less.
To achieve this goal, Vision 2020 told the Committee it would cost
around $900 million, of which it recommended that the Australian Government
initially supply $30 million over four years.
World Vision was very supportive of the sectoral focus of Australia’s
aid program, and recommended that within these sectors, AusAID focus on:
- supporting the
training of midwives and health workers to expand both their number and
capabilities, through both bilateral funding and scholarships;
- placing emphasis on
changes in personal and community behaviour in relation to water and sanitation
- focusing agricultural
interventions on using Australia’s expertise in ‘drylands agriculture’,
agricultural research and development, and increasing agricultural
- offering support for
reforestation efforts and techniques;
- supporting ‘disaster
risk reduction approaches which incorporate civil society and governance’;
- in sectoral programs,
allocating resources to the protection of civilians;
- increasing the
resources going to NGOs active in the Dafur region of Sudan; and
- promoting ‘civic education
and support to civil society organisations’ through the proposed program of
In relation to these recommendations, World Vision made three proposals
to the Committee. These were:
- Australian support of
health worker training institutions, in particular schools of midwifery in
select African countries;
- Australian support of
community led health interventions in Africa; and
- Australian Government
support for the delivery of the Minimum Initial Service Package for reproductive health in crisis and protracted crisis African countries.
Oxfam Australia echoed calls for increased official engagement with
‘NGOs, civil society, community leaders and citizens’ in the delivery of
assistance in Africa, adding that this would ‘reinforce Australia’s technical
and capacity building expertise’. Not only would this further improve
governance, public administration management, and local government
administration, it would also ‘strengthen Australia’s engagement with Africa’.
Committee’s visit to Africa
In early April 2011, the Committee Delegation travelled to South Africa,
Zimbabwe, Ghana and Ethiopia and visited and/or received detailed briefings on
six activities or organisations which had been assisted by Australian aid
money. These were:
- the provision of ‘lap
desks’ through a private South African company;
- assistance to the
Bulawayo City Council, Zimbabwe, for repair of the city sewerage system;
- a grant to the
Ebenezer Rural Agricultural Training Centre, Zimbabwe, to establish an tomato
paste export scheme involving 180 local rural farmers;
- support for the
rehabilitation of the Hwange Power Station, Zimbabwe;
- support for a Water
Aid project at the Sabon Zongo urban slum in Accra, Ghana; and
- a visit to the Hamlin
Fistula Hospital and College of Midwives, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Whilst in Ghana, the Delegation also met with six Australian Youth
Ambassadors and when in South Africa met with participants in the Australian
The Lapdesk Company
Responding to a significant proportion of school children in South
Africa who do not have access to a desk at school, the Lapdesk Company has
developed a 63 cm by 43 cm kidney shaped plastic board which can be used as a
writing surface. It includes basic educational tools such as a multiplication
table, alphabet and maps.
In the five years since its inception, the company has delivered 600 000
lapdesks to 18 countries in Africa. AusAID funding has enabled some 22 000
desks to be provided to disadvantaged schoolchildren in Mozambique, South Africa,
The founder and CEO of Lapdesk, Mr Shane Immelman, told the Committee
that some lapdesks had a chalkboard surface on their underside. Sponsors
providing lapdesks chose the recipient schools and design of the lapdesk after
advice from the company. Lapdesk had chosen to be a ‘for profit’ entity because
such companies provided a greater contribution to the South African economy.
Bulawayo Water and Sewage Emergency Response Program
Over the years, due to lack of resources for maintenance, the 200 km
sewerage system serving the 450,000 residents of Bulawayo has become clogged.
The sewage pumps have also become dilapidated and there are some 700 leaks in
the fresh water supply system.
In 2009-10, AusAID provided $4.6 million for a two-year World Vision
Australia project to:
- clear blocked sewer
- renovate pumps and
solid particle traps;
- repair leaks in the
water supply lines; and
- fund a public
awareness campaign to promote hygiene behaviour and appropriate use of
During its inspection tour, the Delegation saw at first hand a number of
renovation works being carried out as part of the project, signage promoting
improved hygiene and witnessed an AusAID sponsored street theatre for education.
The Delegation was also told that citizens were more likely to pay their
rates when the sewage and fresh water delivery systems were repaired, which in
turn would provide income for ongoing council maintenance.
Ebenezer Rural Agricultural Training Centre
Whilst in Zimbabwe the Delegation visited the Ebenezer Rural
Agricultural Training Centre and was briefed by its principles and met a number
of apprentices. The Training Centre provides two years training in sustainable
horticulture to up to 200 apprentices aged between 17 and 24. Each apprentice
starts with 0.2 ha of land and grows cash crops such as tomatoes, onions,
pumpkins, and cabbages on a rotation basis. They are provided with seed funding
and share in the profits of their enterprise. As they progress they have access
to more land and can increase their share of profits to 100 per cent by
repaying the seed funding.
The Training Centre has recently received a $450 000 grant and $300 000
interest-free loan from the Zimbabwe Window of the Africa Enterprise Challenge
Fund (AECF ZW) to establish a tomato processing plant. The goal is to contract
at least 200 farmers to produce tomatoes on irrigated land for processing into
triple concentrate paste and dried tomato powder for export and the local
Bulawayo market. It is expected that some 2000 households will each benefit to
the tune of US$1400.
The AECF ZW is a competition open only to for-profit companies which
propose projects which:
… will support ideas in the fields of agribusiness, rural
financial services and value chains which extend from rural Zimbabwe to local
and international markets. To qualify for funding [the] business idea should
have a positive impact on the rural poor: delivering increased employment,
reduced costs and improved productivity.
The major supporters of the AECF ZW are AusAID, which as a founding
donor provided $5 million in December 2009, and the Soros Economic
Development Fund. It is managed by KPMG Development Advisory Services, in
association with Triple Line Consulting and Acumen Africa Consulting. In 2010,
10 businesses in Zimbabwe were awarded a total of US$ 6 million. This was
expected to ‘leverage at least four times this amount from the 10 companies’
contributions to their own projects’ and benefit ‘800 000 rural households’
over four years.
Hwange Power Station
The Hwange Power Station is one of two coal fired electricity power
stations in Zimbabwe. It currently operates at about half its capacity of 920
MW which means that Zimbabwe consistently has power shortfalls. The reason for
the lack of operating performance is the inability to continuously remove the
ash generated by the furnaces. The various pumps and other systems involved in
the removal of ash are either inoperative or break down frequently and this
results in the shutdown of the generators. Rehabilitation of the ash disposal
system will result in an increase in electricity generation and reduction in
atmospheric ash pollution.
Funds for the rehabilitation are being provided by the Zim-Fund—a
multi-donor trust fund which is managed by the African Development Bank.
Australia has contributed US$9 million to the Zim-Fund which has allocated
US$32.6 million to the rehabilitation of the Hwange Power Station and the
sub-transmission and distribution facilities in Zimbabwe.
Sabon Zongo urban slum
AusAID has partnered with ten Australia NGOs ‘to implement a range of
activities which complement AusAID’s programs in food security; water,
sanitation and hygiene. One of these partners is WaterAid. Within Ghana, WAA is
carrying out an urban project in Greater Accra (Sabon Zongo) in collaboration with
a local NGO, local government, and the urban water and sanitation authorities.
The aims of the project are to 'assist local communities to negotiate with
local government and the government water and sanitation authorities' in order
… improve access to water and sanitation; improve
institutional arrangements for urban [water sanitation and hygiene] service
delivery; drive urban sector reforms; and address land tenure arrangements and
tariff settings in urban areas.
Specifically the aim is to 'establish a fee-for-service water kiosks,
community toilets and hard rubbish collection'. Thus poor people with limited
resources are provided access to essential services with an element of cost
recovery and sustainability.
As well, the project aims to deliver:
… gender and disability friendly [water sanitation and
hygiene] facilities to schools in the Sabon Zongo community. Developing such
facilities is also aimed at school retention, especially for girls and people
The Delegation witnessed the ruins of previous toilet facilities and the
newly built replacement. As well, the Delegation visited a local school where
toilets had been installed for the first time. It was also briefed on the
standardisation of street design which provided stormwater drainage and
vehicular access—old areas of the slum had no drainage channels and no access
for emergency or rubbish collection vehicles.
Hamlin Fistula Hospital and College of Midwives
The Hamlin Fistula Hospital was established in 1974 by Dr Catherine
Hamlin and Dr Reginald Hamlin. The hospital treats obstetric fistulas which are
injuries sustained through protracted childbirth. These can result in severe
urinary incontinence and lower spinal nerve damage resulting in paralysis.
The Delegation was told that surgery could cure some 75 per cent of the
fistula cases with the remainder requiring extensive physiotherapy aimed to
overcome persistent urinary incontinence and paralysis. A significant
proportion of these patients are only partially cured and these are provided
with long term care in a purpose built village outside Addis Ababa.
The hospital has recently established the Hamlin College of Midwives to
train midwives from rural areas. They will work in a number of rural health
centres which are all located within relatively easy reach of Hamlin rural
fistula hospitals where emergency caesarean operations can be
performed—obstetric fistulas are unknown in the West where caesareans are
routinely performed in cases of protracted labour.
AusAID has provided $7.3 million since 2000 to the Hamlin organisation,
including $2.3 million in 2009-10 for the Hamlin College of Midwives.
Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program
The Australian Youth Ambassadors of the Development Program, a fully
funded AusAID program, was created in 1998 to 'strengthen mutual understanding
between Australia and the countries of Asia, Pacific and Africa and make a
positive contribution to development.' The Program has four main objectives:
provide opportunities for young Australians to contribute to Australia's
overseas aid program and to gain personal and professional experience in
build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities in partner
countries through sharing skills and knowledge.
foster linkages and partnerships between organisations and communities in
Australia and those in developing countries.
raise public awareness of development issues and the Australian aid program in
the Australian community.
Each year the Program places 400 Australians aged between 18 and 30 in
short-term assignments of up to one year in developing countries in a diverse
range of sectors including: education, the environment, gender, governance,
health, infrastructure, rural development, and trades.
In Ghana, the Delegation met six Youth Ambassadors and found them to be
articulate and committed. The Delegation considers they are indeed worthy
ambassadors for Australia.
Australian Volunteers International
Australian Volunteers International is supported by AusAID and has been
active for over 60 years enabling over 7500 volunteers to work in over 70
developing countries. Most volunteers have at least 10 years of career experience
and the volunteer assignments have focused on:
- governance (34%);
- strengthening health
and education systems and programs (25%);
- the environment,
sustainability and sustainable livelihoods (11%); and
- infrastructure and
rural development (5%).
Recent Africa-based projects have been:
- [assisting] in the
drafting of Swaziland's first Child Protection and Welfare Bill 2008; and
- [training] the first
Hamlin College of Midwifery graduates in Ethiopia.
Australian Volunteers for International Development
In May 2011, the Foreign Minister, Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, launched the
Australian Volunteers for International Development. The initiative is a
partnership between the Australian Red Cross, Australian Volunteers
International, and Austraining International (the managers of the Australian
Youth Ambassadors for Development Program). The aim of the new program is to
draw 'all Australian Government overseas volunteering initiatives together
under a single banner making it easier for more skilled as Australians to contribute
to … overseas aid efforts.'
In the 2011 Budget, $55 million was committed to the program to enable
some 900 volunteers to be 'deployed to 33 countries including expansion to new
countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in the North Pacific.'
The Committee welcomes the increasing level of development aid to Africa
in recent years. The Committee further notes that the use of the MDGs to focus
AusAID’s efforts is appropriate. As Australia’s aid budget for Africa expands
there will be increasing opportunity to involve NGOs in delivery of aid
projects in Africa.
It is clear to the Committee, however, from the meetings of its
Delegation in Zimbabwe that there is some way to go in achieving recognition of
Australia’s contribution of aid via multilateral partners.
The Committee notes that there is currently an independent review of aid
effectiveness, and so has made no
comment in this regard. Nevertheless, the Committee Delegation was impressed by
the potential benefit of supporting private sector initiatives, for example by
providing funds through the AECF ZW. Provided such projects are carefully
selected, there is the advantage of leveraging additional funds from the
private sector; affecting large numbers of people through an expanded local
economy; and supporting a sustainable enterprise with the potential for growth.
This section examines two types of private initiatives related to
development aid in Africa. The first part examines private sector and
individual involvement in delivering capacity building programs, such as in
governance and leadership. The second part looks at development programs run by
private enterprise and individuals.
A number of submissions identified corruption as a major issue hindering
development in Africa. As such, a lack of good governance was ‘one of the main
reasons much of Africa is in nearly constant political and economic chaos’.
According to the Australian Leadership Program for Africa (ALPA):
The record of leadership in much of Africa is lamentable and
there are few examples of good governance to point to. However, many
well-meaning—often well-educated, and young—African public servants want to
change this state of affairs but have not been exposed to successful,
democratic, decision-making processes. Consequently, it is hard for them to
instigate significant improvements in the way processes work in their
countries. Yet, these improvements are absolutely essential if Africa is ever
to get out of its current development trap and remove its constant tag of ‘basket
Given the above, several submissions and proposals were received to
assist in ameliorating this leadership deficit.
ALPA proposed an initiative wherein groups of young African leaders,
from one country at a time, are:
… placed in Australian organisations where they would be
exposed, first hand, to organisational decision-making processes. Covering
critical economic, environmental, social, and cultural issues in an
experiential format, African participants would acquire skills which would be
capable of emulation (and modification as needed) in their home countries.
Unlike some other leadership capacity development programs, ALPA is a
not-for-profit organisation, and as such would require some level of government
support. ALPA requested that the Committee recommend that DFAT develop a
leadership training program in conjunction with ALPA.
Mr David Wheen proposed that AusAID’s Australian Business Volunteers
program be extended to include
Africa, citing the example of Rwanda.
To make a notable impact across a range of fields it is
desirable for Australian experts to be able to spend time in Rwanda training,
advising and generally working with the locals in transferring knowledge and
Mr Wheen argued that by extending the program to include African
countries like Rwanda, recipient countries could achieve considerable gain with
a minimal increase in spending on Australia’s part. He added that this would
make a real contribution in ‘enhancing the quality of public administration’,
and that there were Australians with the skills and willingness to become
Leading Initiatives Worldwide (LIW) has been running a leadership
capacity development program in Africa since 2002. LIW highlighted to the
Committee that, as a World Bank preferred supplier for capacity building, it was
engaged in building leadership using methods which incorporate ‘leading
academic research into the value and results gained by distributing leadership
across an organisation’.
LIW has been involved in building leadership capacity primarily in East
Africa, and has trained some 2500 ‘ministers, ambassadors, district
commissioners, CEOs and directors in both public and private sectors.’ 
The aim of LIW in providing leadership training was to go beyond the
academic understanding of good governance and the contractual way of working,
… a behavioural argument. They will nod their heads and
understand cognitively what is required in terms of good governance but their
behaviour might not be aligned to that. So where we have aimed to make some
difference is, one person at a time, being able to get them to understand what
their moral compass should be and the impact that that has on people that they
lead. … There has to be accountability and a leadership example that is set for
the role they carry out. That will enable them to carry out their duties to the
highest degree of ethics.
Regarding corruption, LIW had found there has been a ‘yawning gap’
between their trainees’ perception of corruption for their country and
Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index:
When the cold light of day hits, then the next question is:
‘Well, are you going to perpetuate this? And if you are not, and you make a
conscious choice not to, what are the things we need to do? … there has to be
an emotional recognition about their role and the impact—and that poverty will
perpetuate, corruption will perpetuate, unless you have change. That is an
individual choice and what we have found to work with is with individuals who
are in significant leadership positions to have that change. What they report
back to us is that they have significantly changed their perception of the way
LIW told the Committee that it hoped to expand into West Africa and was
tendering for a World Bank project for the Association of African Distance
Learning Centres which would cover 13 African countries.
LIW also expressed an interest in:
Assisting the Australian government and businesses who
operate and/or wish to operate in Africa to develop a ‘partner leadership’
model whereby both parties utilise a common organisational leadership language
in order to work effectively, efficiently and achieve common objectives.
One of the flow-on effects of the presence of Australian mining
companies in African counties is the development of local skills. According to
the Australia Africa Mining Industry Group (AAMIG):
Mining and mining service companies are routinely offering
professional training programmes throughout Africa, providing professional
development opportunities to mining companies for national staff. The
Australian mining sector has done an excellent job in identifying and training
national mining professionals and trades-people, many of whom are now utilising
their skills throughout Africa and beyond, with earnings being repatriated to
their home countries. Ghana, as a more mature African mining economy,
represents a prime example. Not only has Ghana itself prospered as a nation on
the back of developing mineral wealth, but is now exporting professional and
technical mining personnel globally.
AAMIG added that an area where it could provide assistance, perhaps in
conjunction with the Australian Government, was:
… in the provision and/or sponsorship of professional development
training to facilitate capacity building in areas associated with the mining
sector, potentially including areas such as mineral legislation and tenure
management, geological and hydrological surveys, environmental monitoring and
compliance, workforce health education and occupational safety compliance.
Capacity building provides long-term benefit to African countries. The
Committee believes programs such as that run by ALPA, where cohorts of
potential leaders are brought to Australia, are worthy of support.
AusAID should provide funding assistance to capacity
building programs such as that conducted by the Australian Leadership Program
for Africa and similar organisations.
The Committee also believes there is also value in facilitating the
involvement of professionals and organisations in capacity building within
Africa. Such engagement can transfer specialist knowledge as well as build up
personal relations between Australia and Africa. The Committee agrees with
Mr Wheen that a practical and immediate way to facilitate capacity
building would be to expand the Australian Business Volunteers program to
include African countries.
AusAID should increase funding for the Australian Business
Volunteers program so that it can expand coverage to African countries.
Whilst in Africa, Committee Delegation members were regularly approached
by African government ministers, officials, and businessmen advocating
Australian involvement in creating regulation frameworks for the mining sector
in African countries. As a major minerals exporter, Australia has experience
and expertise in this area and could readily assist African countries. Robust
regulatory frameworks offer certainty for business and would benefit resource
rich African countries. The Committee notes evidence from AAMIG, cited in
paragraph 3.109, offering assistance in this area.
In addition, members of the Delegation were made aware of the high
regard in which State Departments of Mining and Energy (however titled) were
held by large numbers of officials in a range of African countries. Often these
departments hold expertise built up over 100 years. Officials in African
countries repeatedly requested access to this knowledge and expertise.
There is a major opportunity for the Australian Government, State
Governments, and the wider mining industry to leverage off this history in a
practical way that will assist the development, implementation, and
administration of sound mining codes in a range of African countries.
The Department of Foreign Affairs
and Trade and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism should
establish and fund a special unit tasked with establishing a regulatory
framework model for the mining and resources sector which African countries could
consider adopting according to their requirements.
Mr Andrew MacLeod argued that it was necessary for Australia to change
the focus of its aid in Africa. He told the Committee that, in order to make
Australian assistance to Africa more effective on the ground:
We need to develop more of a
balance between public sector and private sector interventions. We need to
understand that if you want true and genuine development you need to establish
the macroeconomic and microeconomic variables for business to thrive. We need
to recognise that our private sector companies, particularly our resource
companies, are doing a lot of good work in their corporate social
responsibility in community investment programs and we need to give them some
incentives to continue to do that, or at least give them recognition for what
they can do.
AAMIG advised the Committee that Australian mining companies active in
Africa were also:
Actively involved in establishing and managing social
development programmes proximal to their operations and actively undertaking or
sponsoring training initiatives. These programmes are extremely diverse,
ranging from the establishment of civil infrastructure such as villages,
potable water supplies, schools, clinics and community centres, along with the
staffing and funding of these, while other activities include commercial
agriculture and aquiculture projects, enterprise development programmes,
workforce health education, professional training courses, and the sponsoring
of tertiary and postgraduate students.
AAMIG noted that these programs would be further assisted by a
‘public-private partnership’. This would assist to:
Ensure the relatively limited available government aid
funding is applied to maximum social, financial, political and strategic
advantage. A mining operation or mining development project provides an
immediate commercial focus for the delivery and management of social
development programmes that could be branded as ‘AusAID’ or ‘Australian’
projects. Government agencies and/or their independent consultants could ensure
that the programmes are appropriately implemented and managed, and are
consistent with UN regional objectives. It is important to stress that
companies do not see this concept as an opportunity to abrogate responsibility,
but rather a mechanism to increase the scope of these programs, and implement
and manage them in a more strategic way.
AAMIG admitted, however, that the ‘only negative element from a
Government perspective would appear to be the potential perception of being associated
with a private mining project’.
A Special Report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute made a
similar proposal to AAMIG’s. The Special Report commented that ‘the distinction
between corporate business and development aid is becoming blurred’; it was
therefore time ‘to enhance collaboration’ between the resources sector and
There should be regular exchanges to discuss sustainable
development goals and how the achievement of these goals can be accelerated
through greater collaboration. Collaborating in workable partnerships could
maximise the beneficial outcomes for all parties, and promote the long-term
economic self-reliance of developing countries.
CARE Australia supported such a proposal in principle, but offered two
caveats to this support:
- firstly, ‘aid must be
focused on reducing poverty’, and initiatives like AAMIG’s must not ‘dilute
this focus’; and
- secondly, any
initiative should be implemented ‘in ways that meet international standards and
bring benefits to local communities’.
A submission from Mr Andrew MacLeod cautioned that:
A badly motivated company could be a great reputational risk,
be it in the host community or back in Australia. A well motivated and well run
company on the other hand could give enormous benefit. Hence the great risk of
the concept is the need to be able to assess which companies are worth
partnering with and which should not.
In this regard, CARE proposed the following should be considered when
undertaking a public–private partnership:
- The company’s
policies and record on ensuring corporate social responsibility ...;
- The extent to which
such policies are monitored and followed through consistently;
- The company’s
approach to engaging with NGOs and the broader community; and
- The extent to which
the parent company directly controls the business activities of the local
CARE also cautioned against allowing funding from the Australian aid
program to be used as an incentive in negotiations between local communities
and mining companies.
Dr Geoffrey Hawker, while supportive of the idea, raised some possible
difficulties with the proposal. Dr Hawker questioned whether AusAID had the
resources ‘to supervise, let alone undertake, the substance of such tasks’.
Furthermore, while there are some capable of undertaking consultancy work on
the issues surrounding the proposal, they are few in number. Support for the
proposal and its substance also needs to be universal, include medium and small
mining companies, and ideally ‘miners with bases in other countries’ as well.
Oxfam Australia voiced six ‘significant concerns’ about the proposal.
- Mining companies lacked
the ‘skills, experience or mandate to deliver social development assistance
even with the Australian Government providing supplementary funding’. Oxfam
Australia recommended that mining companies need to focus on ensuring their
mining activities did not have a negative impact on communities.
- NGOs might be
compromised ‘if they were closely associated with a mining company’, especially
if there existed some tension between local communities and mining companies.
- ‘Mining companies
frequently obtain a mining licence / concession from a host government with a
commitment to deliver social development projects as part of the contract of
operation. This proposal suggests the Australian aid budget be accessed to
support projects companies have already undertaken to deliver’.
- AusAID focused on
communities in greatest need of assistance and with the ‘greatest potential for
sustainable development ... [while] the location of social development projects
supported by mining companies is frequently located close to the mine site.
This may not necessarily be a location that meets AusAID objectives, and as
such the aid programme could be potentially compromised’.
- ‘While mining
companies have historically contributed to infrastructure projects such as
schools, clinics, roads, water sanitation etc, these projects are not a
substitute for good mining governance, transparency, disclosure, and the
establishment of meaningful company-community relationships and site-based
grievance mechanisms. Further, these infrastructure projects are often not
sustained when the company leaves or the site closes’. Thus there is a
potential for such legacy issues to ‘further compromise the use of Australian
aid delivered via an “AusAID branded” public private partnership’.
- Lines of
responsibility and accountability could ‘at times be blurred’ in public private
partnerships. This could be ‘particularly difficult to manage and monitor in
conflict, post-conflict and weak governance zones’.
As such, Oxfam Australia ‘strongly’ advised the Australian Government to
not adopt AAMIG’s proposal. ACFID supported Oxfam
Conversely, Oxfam Australia noted that there exist ‘opportunities for
NGOs to collaborate with mining companies to enhance development in host
countries’. Areas of collaboration proposed included:
- Advice to companies
on policy and practice with regard to the social and environmental impact of
their operations, including human rights, gender and corporate–community
- Advice to companies
on the establishment of site-level grievance mechanisms and appropriate
community consultation mechanisms
- Advice to companies
who wish to support capacity building and service delivery in areas such as
HIV/AIDS and health promotion.
Furthermore, Oxfam Australia told the Committee that:
Opportunities exist for NGOs to work with mining companies to
promote responsible business conduct and support for human rights through their
operations and processes of engaging with communities. Establishing mutually
beneficial corporate community relationships in the extractives sector is
recognised as being critical for ensuring an ongoing social licence to operate,
conflict management and sustainable development.
Oxfam Australia noted, however, that such collaboration would not
require official Australian aid funding to be delivered via a public-private
Dr Richard Parsons, the rapporteur for the ASPI Special Report, acknowledged
that the criticisms were valid and necessitated the exercise of 'extreme care'
when designing collaboration between the resources sector and AusAID. He
… the strongest case for collaboration is on those occasions
where there is currently duplication of effort and/or funding in delivering
social programmes. Even on such occasions, however, any collaboration must be
carefully thought through to ensure that:
- boundaries of
responsibility and accountability are explicitly clear;
- each party (company
and AusAID) undertakes only those activities for which it is qualified and
experienced, and most specifically that resources companies do not become de
- the promise of AusAID
funding is not used to ‘buy’ community support for a resources project;
- the government is not
effectively subsidising resources companies;
- social development programmes
are fully sustainable, well beyond the life of the company;
- the social outcomes
of collaboration (quantifiable and non-quantifiable) are greater than the sum
of the social outcomes of non-collaboration (i.e., synergy in its literal
Dr Parsons added that, because the conditions were not always clear-cut,
… important to have in place appropriate governance systems
in which as much ownership and control as possible is in the hands of the
communities affected, in order that they are able to make informed judgements
regarding whether these conditions are being met, and empowered to determine
their own futures.
DFAT’s response to the proposal was firstly to emphasise that it was
AusAID’s ‘view that corporate social responsibility programs are of high
importance, however they should remain the primary responsibility of mining
DFAT added, however:
AusAID considers that there is merit in holding discussions
with key stakeholders in the African mining sector that will draw on the
experience and expertise of NGOs, industry and Government to explore possible
areas of cooperation and help ensure that any future development assistance
provided to Africa’s extractive industries sector is best targeted.
As such, DFAT concluded, while this course of action is certainly ‘of
interest’, it ‘would require further whole of government consideration’.
The Committee recognises the role that corruption plays in hindering
development, especially in Africa. Furthermore, the Committee notes that
building governance capacity is very important in terms of overcoming the
detrimental impact which corruption has on development. The Committee strongly supports
and encourages the role the private sector and individuals undertake in
The Committee notes that collaboration and cooperation between the
private sector, government agencies, and NGOs in delivering aid to Africa can
result in synergies. Such synergies could capitalise on NGOs’ expertise in
development issues in local communities, private sector business acumen, and
public funding sources. However, this must not detract from the delivery of aid
where it is most needed.
Such connections do exist already, and the Committee notes that Oxfam
Australia has been working with both Rio Tinto and BHP in relation to their
offshore mining operations. The Committee welcomes
such connections and believes they should be encouraged and expanded wherever
As such, the Committee sees value in DFAT facilitating meetings between
NGOs, resource companies and AusAID with a view to cooperating in development
initiatives and maximising synergies.
Furthermore, the Committee considers that there is strong potential for
DFAT to facilitate more connections between NGOs and resource companies active
in the same area. It notes that there are positive examples of this type of
collaboration between CARE Australia and Italian-based petroleum company ENI in
Peru, and also between CARE and BHP Billiton Community Trust in Indonesia.
DFAT should coordinate regular meetings between AusAID,
NGOs, and Australian resource companies engaged in Africa, with a view to facilitating
aid and development delivery cooperation to take advantage of their differing
and complementary strengths.
The role played by remittances as a form of aid to Africa, unrecognised
in aid statistics, has not been discussed in this Chapter, but is included in Chapter