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AID POLICY: The rise of the "new" donors

DAKAR, 19 October 2011 (IRIN) - “It’s taken the world a while to notice they exist – and now we’re obsessed with them,” is how Karin Christiansen, head of Publish What You Fund, characterizes the west’s relationship with what people call “new”, “emerging” or “non-traditional” donors.

Many are not new at all – India, Brazil and China have been giving aid for decades – but what is new is that a group of non-western donors is giving more humanitarian and development aid year on year, and reporting it more consistently to official trackers, such as the UN’s Financial Tracking System (127 donors reported aid in 2010).

As they “emerge”, the traditional hegemony held by western donors over how and where aid is dispersed is starting to be dismantled.

"A hegemony or sense of tradition has developed over decades in the western humanitarian movement, that it should spearhead response to disasters because it has special experience and ability,” says Randolph Kent head of the Humanitarian Futures programme at King’s College, London.

“But increasingly we are seeing more and more humanitarian players from the east responding to disasters - India, China, Vietnam and Bangladesh for example - are more than capable of responding and managing crises in their own countries."

These donors do not necessarily want to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Aid Committee – they are forming their own localized coordination groups instead.

Brazil and Spain signed an agreement in 2011 to jointly implement aid projects; Russia recently partnered with Venezuela on Haiti earthquake response; Brazil, India and South Africa set up a Poverty and Hunger Alleviation Fund in 2011.

Many are the same governments that have argued for years for a less top-down, more partnership-oriented approach when receiving aid. India, after all, was both the eighth-largest receiver of official development assistance in 2008 and is expected to be the third-largest economy by 2020.

Some governments are growing increasingly frustrated with the western domination of inter-governmental bodies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Brazil, Russia, India and China issued a communiqué in April 2011 stating: “The governing structure of the international financial institutions should reflect the changes in the world economy, increasing the voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries.”

Western powers are not showing themselves keen to shift too much, yet. But in due course, all donors will be forced to shift at least a little, say analysts. In light of these changes, IRIN discusses just how transparent is China’s aid programme; analyzes the rising influence of Muslim and Arab donors and aid agencies; and asks analysts whether aid agencies are preparing sufficiently for the future by reaching out to new donors such as Brazil and India.

For more on aid policy, visit IRIN's in-depth: The rise of the "new" donors

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Theme (s): Aid Policy, Economy, Governance,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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