Monday, 11 June 2007

NZ Aid - Two voices

Tucked away in the recent New Zealand budget was the welcome news that New Zealand had increased its aid and development contribution by $70 million.

The 20.2 per cent increase over the 2007/08 financial year was reported as being the biggest increase to Official Development Assistance (ODA) in decades, Over half the new funding will be spent in the Pacific, particularly in Melanesia, and Asia would also benefit.

The increase takes the New Zealand ODA to $429 million in 2007/08 or 0.30 per cent of gross national income (GNI). Further funding over the three following years would achieve 0.35 per cent by 2010/2011 and aid would have reached $601m.

This is in contrast with previous OECD figures which had NZ's as one of the least generous of international donors, at US $257 million (NZ $361m) in 2006 - 0.27 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI). This in turn was reported as being far below the 0.46 per cent average effort by OECD countries and the no better than New Zealand achieved in 2005.

So very good news all round, especially in the emphasis on the Pacific. But how do you get a handle on what is being spent?

NZ Aid web site
One place to start is the NZ Aid web site. There you will find a good deal of policy information, and a welcome set of reports on who what and where the aid is being spent. I especially liked the map which takes me quickly and easily to the major sites where New Zealand has an aid programme.

In the Pacific, as you might expect, there is a good deal of emphasis on encouraging some joined up thinking around education.

However, although clearly necessary to achieve the 'international policy linkages' required in the region, you can't help but long for some plain speaking - for example have a quick look at this beauty on New Zea land's regional education programme.

  • The Pacific regional education programme is guided by NZAID's Education Strategy, and works within the approach of relationships being partner driven, results-oriented, comprehensive (programme-based), prioritised (sustainable), partnership oriented (alignment and harmonisation), and taking a long-term perspective.

    The key elements of the Education Strategy for the Pacific are:

    - Increase support for basic education, with priority on the Education For All (
    EFA) Goals and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for universal primary education and the elimination of gender disparities.

    - Support strengthened leadership in Pacific education to improve quality and relevance

I know, its enough to provoke a long lie down. However, there is another web platform which explains what is happening and what the issues are. I was entranced by it .

NZ Aid Blog
It's a blog from NZ Aid - its full of human voices [NZ Aid staff] talking about real projects in the real world - take for example , this extract on a visit to a school in Tonga.

As part of the week long education review, we had the opportunity to visit two schools. The first was a government primary school and the second, a non-government secondary school for girls.
The primary school has just over 300 students, 10 teachers and 12 classes. It's a school sports day so the children are outside having sack races. Smiling and laughing, it definitely looks like a lot of fun. The class rooms appear very basic and students are taught in both Tongan and English.

Children attend primary school until year six when they complete the national examination to enter high school. It's a hard exam and students cannot continue their education unless they pass.

The top students in the country will go to Tonga College while others might go to a non-government school or leave school altogether, depending on their results. In this school there are 15 students (out of 72 in year six) that are repeating year six.

The principal of the school shows us the key issue facing the school at the moment - the toilets.

There is only one toilet working at the moment and they do not have the funds to repair them. For a school of this size, it really does cause major problems for the health and well-being of the children.

There is a lot more - it deserves attention - and a wider audience, especially as your attention might help the Field staff writing the blog see how their comments are a crucial part of the education process they are supporting - i.e. educating you and me!

Other examples of real voices in the aid and development world, especially from NGO's would be gratefully received?


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

This is great stuff - hidden away details that are really quite significant. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

I have some related thoughts on the wider implications of development and I'll be sure to reference this post quite soon.

Anonymous said...

Oops - missed the http part in my url.

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