A pre-eminent Southern-led North/South Network on reforming aid policies and practices
The Reality of Aid Network (RoA) is the only major North/South international non-governmental initiative focusing exclusively on analysis and lobbying for poverty eradication policies and practices in the international aid regime. It brings together 172 member organizations, including more than 40 civil society regional and global networks, working in the field of international cooperation in the 21 donor countries of the OECD, and in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and in the Asia/Pacific. The Reality of Aid builds on a 20-year track record of independent assessment of aid policies and practices, accompanied by constructive dialogue with policy makers at national and international levels.
As the recognized CSO network on global aid reform, RoA has established a significant and credible civil society dialogue on aid and international cooperation issues with the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, which organized the High Level Forum III in Accra (2008) and HLF IV in Busan (2011), and also with the UN Development Cooperation Forum. RoA plays a leading role in advocating for development effectiveness, engaging with the processes of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, and dialogue with donors and governments at high level events.
- To provide reliable and well-researched reports on international aid performance;
- To influence national and international policy makers, in the North and the South, through lobbying and policy dialogue;
- To contribute to an informed debate on the role of aid in poverty eradication;
- To increase public knowledge and awareness and thereby catalyze public and political pressure for accountable development cooperation policies in donor countries;
- To facilitate collaboration and shared learning among CSOs from all regions of the world to enhance their capacity to advocate for effective development cooperation.
Function and Activities
The Reality of Aid Report
Since 2000, the RoA publishes a major biennial thematic report, assessing aid effectiveness for poverty reduction with an emphasis on qualitative analysis of the national and multilateral aid regime. The Reality of Aid Reports analyze and advocate key messages relating to the performance of aid donors from a unique perspective of civil society in both donor and recipient developing countries. The Reports have established themselves as a credible corrective to official publications on development assistance and poverty reduction. The Reports have also developed a reputation in many donor countries as an important independent comparative reference for accountability and public awareness of development issues.
Regular Regional Reports
The Reality of Aid Network also facilitates the production of regular regional reports in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which draw on the common analysis of the global Report with additional regionally generated chapters. These are distributed widely within the region and are shared within the Reality of Aid Network. National reports in the North are also drawn from the global Report, with extended national chapters, in languages appropriate to the country/region concerned.
The Reality Check is the official newsletter of the Reality of Aid. It is designed to highlight current issues in aid regime written from a regional perspective but with global significance, edited in rotation by members from the different global regions.
Lobbying and Policy Dialogue
The products and the reality of an engaged North/South civil society network within RoA are important tools that CSOs use to influence governments and to keep donors accountable towards their commitments for poverty eradication. Reports are widely distributed with national and international launches, in informed dialogues with aid ministry officials and politicians, with inter-governmental officials at the OECD DAC, and, at times, with participants from both the North and the South. The RoA has been successful in realizing prominent coverage in national and international media. Specific lobbying campaigns such as basic social services, tied aid policy at the DAC, aid volume and aspects of aid quality and effectiveness, have been taken up by groups of participating agencies within the RoA Network at the national, European Union, and international levels.
The Reality of Aid Network builds on the national capacities for advocacy of member organizations. In recent years, with the systematic inclusion of southern networks, RoA has emphasized regional strategies for advocacy with appropriate specific agendas and targets. The network acknowledges that different countries and regions will want to emphasize different aspects of the overall Reality of Aid theme. The Network also aims to build a common vision and shared agenda for each Report that may help member organizations identify and sustain their active involvement. RoA works with its regional and international structures to develop this global advocacy agenda and capacity, while it strengthens its regional processes to foster analysis and key messages.
Throughout its 20-year history, capacity enhancement has been a part of the RoA process. The use of guidelines for participating agencies and authors of the biennial Reports, and the encouragement of CSOs to engage with officials from government and aid agencies have extended the capacity of CSOs for policy analysis and advocacy. The new regional structure established in 2000 has enhanced the engagement of a wider range of organizations and the potential of the RoA process to empower their work for effective development cooperation.
Through research and distribution of reports and related media work, RoA informs the public regarding key issues relating to aid and its impact on poverty. The Network achieves this objective through seminars, media launches and roundtable presentations held in participating countries. The RoA maintains a website (http://www.realityofaid.org) that mirrors the network’s activities and acts as a repository of its shared knowledge from its membership.
Aid Effectiveness Workshops
In the run-up to the HLF3 in Accra, the efforts of the CSOs were strengthened by the work of the International Steering Group (ISG) of the Accra CSO Forum on Aid Effectiveness, of which its leading members were mostly Reality of Aid representatives. Members of RoA, by means of independent or coordinated endeavor, initiated various precursory measures such as multi-stakeholder consultations, seminars, researches and other activities towards the promotion of CSO positions on aid and development effectiveness in the HLF3. These initiatives were in conjunction with the Advisory Group on CSOs and Aid Effectiveness of the OECD/DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness.
RoA has continued these initiatives after Accra and implemented the “Country Outreach Program for Broad Implementation of the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA): from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness”. RoA aimed to actuate the country level implementation of the AAA through CSO capacity building, multi-stakeholder dialogue, and promotion of good practices. RoA has also advanced the administration of case studies and research initiatives documenting CSO involvement in aid policy reforms. These processes contributed towards strengthening the civil society voice in the High Level Forum IV in Busan in 2011.
Regional level civil society consultations were conducted in the following: East and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, Latin America, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Western Africa, Central Africa, and in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Integral to these workshops were the multi-stakeholder consultations among CSOs with representatives of governments, donors, parliaments, and the media. Almost all the workshops included civil society consultations on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).