World Vision UK’s Economic Justice Policy Officer, Elena Chiarella, reflects on September’s global aid effectiveness forum in Ghana
Sometimes it can be difficult to make the link between the high-level meetings that take place in posh rooms in London or New York, and the citizens and communities who will be affected by those very discussions, especially if they live in a remote part of Africa or Asia.
Being an advocate for fair and just economic policies, I have learnt that the link is there, and is more tangible than we can imagine.
Earlier this month I travelled to Accra, Ghana’s capital, to attend a high-level forum about the effectiveness of aid. In my role at World Vision, it was a great opportunity to be right in the midst of discussions about aid and justice, knowing that the decisions made at the forum would have an impact on the lives of millions of people, including children.
More than 1,200 representatives from governments, donor institutions and civil society took part in the forum, which opened to the beat of an African music group.
Advocating for better aid
Advocating for better aid is paramount if we are to address the underlying causes of poverty and make development long-lasting and meaningful to the poor. Civil society organisations work at both the international and the local level to do just that. Representatives from these organisations working in more than 80 countries took part in the forum itself, and in an event beforehand, to debate the actions needed to reform the aid system.
These organisations help to bridge the gap between the communities with whom we are partners, and the high-level meetings, to help ensure that the voice of the poor is heard.
World Vision believes that development is more than simply achieving an adequate standard of living for the poor. It is about transforming lives and creating a momentum for change so that all men, women and children can reach their potential in life.
Aid and the Millennium Development Goals
Over the past decade, world governments have made major commitments to eradicate global poverty, to promote sustainable development and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Nevertheless in 2008, just seven years shy of the MDGs deadlines, progress towards reducing global poverty is still woefully inadequate.
Aid must be channelled in the right way to bring about real change for millions of people, whose lives depend on it.
The outcomes of the forum have proved that the work between organisations like World Vision and governments hasn’t been in vain. Significant improvements have been made in the areas of predictability of aid, the accountability of governments to their own citizens and the coordination of donors in their countries of operation.
On my return in the UK, I feel more and more inspired and motivated in the work that I’m doing!