Zambian experiences with Paris Declaration

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Publication Date: 
01 February 2011
Thematic thrusts: 

Zambia is one of the 23 countries globally that have participated in the Phase II Evaluation of the Paris Declaration. This is part of the ongoing monitoring of the implementation of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action being undertaken by OECD DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness. In Paris, 2005, Zambia joined more than 50 aid recipient countries and 22 development partners that endorsed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness

Zambia is a land locked country in Southern Africa with an estimated area of 752 600 square kilometres and an estimated population of 13 million people. The country's macroeconomic management has improved tremendously with inflation decreasing since 2004 from 17.5%, to 8.5% in 2010. To achieve this, government has sought to pursue pursued tight fiscal and monetary policies which have helped to return the country to a stable economic environment and laid ground for a rise in investments especially in the mining sector and economic growth. These policies have been commended by both domestic and international observers such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Fiscal policy was, however, somewhat loosened during the global economic crisis to counter the negative effects of the crisis. The World Bank (2010) Data Profile for Zambia, indicates that the current GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP) is USD17.155 billion while GDP per capita (PPP) is USD1,460.63.

Despite recent positive economic gains improvements in the social conditions for the Zambian population are occurring only slowly. Zambia remains one of the poorest in the world. In such a context, the need for external support to address socio-economic challenges is inevitable. Extreme poverty in rural areas is far much higher than in urban areas. The poor performance of agriculture continues to keep the rural population in poverty given that, according to the 2005 Labour Force Survey, over 94% of people living in rural areas are employed in agriculture. There is hope that things may have begun to improve for the rural population given the good harvest posited in the last two farming seasons. The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality in consumption, was estimated at 50.7 for 2007 in the 2009 Human Development Report (HDR), a small decline from 52.6 in 1998 cited in the 2001 HDR. Compared to other countries, this is very high inequality. The poorest 10% accounted for only 1.3% of total income while the richest accounted for 38.9% of total income in 2007.

According to the Ministry of Finance, 28 donors are providing ODA to Zambia. But there are many more channelling aid through NGOs. However, this information is not well documented. Therefore, the total ODA reported could be less than the total flows to Zambia but it cannot be ascertained how significantly less this is. ODA to Zambia is very concentrated such that the top three donors provided 34% of ODA between 2006 and 2009. The ten largest donors between 2006 and 2009 were EU (14.3%), USA (10.7%), United Kingdom (9.0%), United Nations (8.9%), World Bank (8.7%), Netherlands (7.6%), Norway (5.6%), Denmark (5.2%), AfDB (4.4%), Germany (4.3%) and Japan (4.3%). The rest of the donors provided 17%.

Zambia is one of the 23 countries globally that have participated in the Phase II Evaluation of the Paris Declaration. This is part of the ongoing monitoring of the implementation of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action being undertaken by OECD DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness. In Paris, 2005, Zambia joined more than 50 aid recipient countries and 22 development partners that endorsed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The PD comprises 56 commitments that have been grouped into 5 key principles - Ownership, Alignment, Harmonisation, Mutual accountability and Management for Development Results - and have been agreed upon in partnerships between development partners and aid recipient countries.

The 3rd High Level Forum was held in Ghana in 2008 whose outcome was the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA).The AAA was outlined as strengthening country ownership, building more inclusive partnerships and sharpening focus on development results. Zambia participated in the Phase I Evaluation of the Paris Declaration with a view that the results of the Evaluation together with that of other countries would feed into the deliberations of the 3rd High Level Forum. Zambia's report was not concluded until after the 3rd High Level Forum was held.

The overall objective of the Phase II Evaluation is to trace plausible contribution of aid to development results by assessing and analyzing the relevance and effectiveness of the implementation of the Paris Declaration in Zambia. The evaluation looks at three main areas: (1) the PD context; (2) intermediate outcomes in terms of efficiency of aid management; and (3) development results, and draws evidence from both a review of literature and interviews of key stakeholders both inside and outside government. While the Phase I Evaluation focused mainly on implementation processes, Phase II goes beyond processes to assess contribution of aid to development results achieved at the level of the ultimate beneficiary both in terms of outcomes and impacts.

Contextual issues that are relevant to the implementation of the PD in Zambia are those providing an enabling policy environment such as political governance, prudent macro-economic management, decentralisation and strong sector leadership by government. Zambia had begun implementing aid coordination mechanisms in 1993 when the country introduced the Sector-wide Approach (SWAp) in the health sector. While these initiatives began prior to PD, the endorsement of PD was expected to serve as a catalyst to existing initiatives.

Overall Conclusions on Common Evaluation Questions

  1. "What are the important factors (enablers and the inhibitors) that have affected the relevance and implementation of the Paris Declaration and its potential effects on aid effectiveness and development results (the Paris Declaration in context)?" (Core Question 1)

The momentum towards more aid effectiveness started before the Paris Declaration was adopted in 2005. Some stakeholders interviewed even argued that the PD borrowed a lot from what had already been going on in Zambia. A key expectation, therefore, is that the adoption of the PD would act as a catalyst towards accelerated progress in integrating these principles into Zambia's aid relationship. There is no clear evidence that this has happened. The counterfactual - whether the current progress in embracing the principles (pillars) of ownership, alignment, harmonization, management for results and mutual accountability would not have taken place without the Paris Declaration - cannot be answered conclusively. Although there has been some progress in advancing the principles embedded in the PD, its catalytic role appears not to have been as strong as would have been expected.

Interviews with some GRZ officials pointed out that one of the reasons could be a lack of a formal domestication of the Paris Declaration at the country level. After the PD was signed, no one worked through the mechanics of how it was going to be translated into action at country level. However, the ETC in the MoFNP has been the natural home for this given that it is responsible for managing donor relations on behalf of the GRZ. According to the JASZ evaluation the ETC structure appears more amenable to a bilateral focus on aid relations rather than a thematic or principle focus that would suit the handling of the Paris Declaration issues. This worsens the extent to which the ETC is overstretched because it needs to deal with donors on a one-on-one basis.

Donors have, however, coordinated themselves around common principles. The JASZ evaluation thus observed that "the current structure of ETC remains in a pre-Paris Declaration and pre-Aid Policy and Strategy mould. The current ETC modus operandi in fact calls for diverse competencies that are designed to respond to the peculiarities of each donor and has, consequently, introduced a systemic overload on an already over-stretched staff whose day-to-day functions are already quite demanding" (OPM, March 2010, p.35). There was even the view that the ETC is being marginalized by the arrangement of the JASZ troika to meet the Secretary to the Treasury once a month.

One obvious contribution of the PD is that it made the principles more widely known and hence easy to relate to. Those who objected to the principles set in the HIP or other domestic agreements on aid effectiveness that followed, were now fewer as a result of the PD. At the same time, donor country offices could now more easily get the support of their headquarters on the country level aid cooperation because these principles were now global.

The interest and engagement in the aid effectiveness agenda among key stakeholders continues. This is seen in the fact that the different dialogue platforms established under the PRBS and JASZ MoUs continue to operate. However, there is dissimilar interest and level of commitment between the donors and the GRZ to this process. For those donors that signed either the PRBS or the JASZ MoUs, the interest in the aid effectiveness agenda continues to be high even though one or two donor agencies that are part of the JASZ appear to have begun to doubt the efficacy of these dialogue platforms and whether the aid effectiveness agenda as implemented is the right way to go. The JASZ evaluation observed that donor groups in different sectors continued to meet regularly even though the cost of coordinating and attending these meetings was recognized to be high.

Regarding the GRZ, commitment to aid effectiveness principles varies between ministries and departments. Within the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, for example, those closest to the management of the aid cooperation agenda such as the ETC continue to be interested. Others are less concerned and show little interest in this agenda. Perhaps this is a natural occurrence. Natural as well is that ministries with SWAps have sustained their interest and continued engagement. Less interest on the aid effectiveness is being displayed by those without SWAps. An example is that the level of seniority of civil servant representatives from sector ministries seems to be declining at the High Level Policy Dialogue meetings. This was specifically noted at the last HLPD in 2009. There have been two reasons offered to explain this. First is that sectors that were asked to contribute to the PAF indicators expected some direct reward regarding the performance of their relevant PAF indicators. The second is that senior civil servants in sectors not performing well on their PAF indicators simply stayed away from the HLPD meetings or sent very junior officers rather than attend and defend the poor performance.

There are three key influences regarding the way aid relations have worked since 2005. The first is Zambia's attainment of the HIPC Completion Point in 2005 and the subsequent debt write off that saw Zambia debt stock fall from US$7.2 billion to only US$500 million. With it ended the annual negotiations for debt rescheduling at the Paris Club. Subsequently, the role of the World Bank which often acted as a bridge between Zambia and other donors is no longer as prominent. The second is the rising status of China as a donor to Zambia. Of course the relationship between the two goes back to pre-independence days when China supported Zambia's liberation struggle. China gave loans to Zambia for huge infrastructure development projects such as the Tanzania-Zambia Railway in the 1970s. What is now different is that China has become the second largest economy in the world and her aid to Zambia is becoming more visible. She is not part of the aid effectiveness agenda either internationally or locally and her aid is mostly in the form of loans. The third has been the withholding of some aid due to alleged misappropriation of funds at the Ministry of Health. This last influence appears to have tested Zambia's aid relations more than has been the case at any other time since the mid-1990s.

No donor has directly stated that they would cut back aid as a result of the global economic crisis. However, there is belief among some GRZ officials that this has become an issue because the capacity to provide aid has reduced in the countries giving aid. There is more scrutiny by the populations of donor countries both as a result of fiscal austerity measures in developed countries and questions about accountability for aid in aid recipient countries.

There are no perceived tensions or tradeoffs between principles of the Paris Declaration. Three observations on how these principles are handled in practice can be noticed.

  •     Extracted from, COUNTRY EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PARIS DECLARATION IN ZAMBIA PHASE II, dated February 2011.  Access the 146 page report here.