Transparency International, a global watchdog on anti-corruption, on Tuesday warned that all the efforts at ensuring aid effectiveness would be fruitless if measures were not put in place to tackle corruption effectively.
It reminded participants at the ongoing Third High Level Forum (HLF3) on Aid Effectiveness of their commitment in the 2005 Paris Declaration to boost aid effectiveness through citizen participation, greater government accountability and transparency in the development process to stem corruption.
"Corruption will continue to undermine aid effectiveness and poverty reduction efforts without immediate action on transparency, accountability and citizen participation by aid recipients and donor countries," TI warned in a statement.
More than 1,200 representatives of developed and developing countries as well as civil society organizations are attending the three-day HLF3 in Accra to assess progress made on aid effectiveness based on the five main principles in the March 2005 Paris Declaration.
The Paris Declaration committed both donor and recipient countries to the principles of ownership, alignment, harmonization, mutual accountability and managing for results, but the countries themselves have observed that progress based on those five principles have been slow since 2005.
The Accra conference is therefore expected to throw light on the dragging factors and evolve an action plan dubbed Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) to ensure a full realization of the principles of the Paris Declaration by the 2010 deadline.
Corruption has been cited as a major impeding factor to the realization of full ownership of aid funded development projects by developing countries and the AAA is expected to address that in a more concrete manner.
The TI statement, however, noted that the final draft of the 31-point AAA itself had failed to adequately address the issue of corruption.
"Although the AAA, endorsed by the representatives of 100 developed and developing countries, as well as multilateral development banks and agencies clearly mentions fighting corruption as a condition for greater aid effectiveness, it provides no framework for action," the statement said.
TI in not alone in pointing out the flaws of the draft AAA as similar concerns had been expressed by other civil society organizations about the need to ensure that the Accra Declaration would be one of action and not inaction.
The TI statement noted that the AAA yet to be approved and declared at the end of the three-day conference, did not adequately address the shortfalls with the time-bound commitments and provisions for civil society and citizens' participation necessary to revive progress and ensure transparency, which is key to tackling corruption in the application of aid funds.
"We need to see a targeted and global strategy to tackle corruption in the development process, or we will continue to see lives spent in misery and preventable deaths because public institutions and the provision of health and education simply do not work in spite of the huge amounts of aid," it said.
Available statistics indicate that annually donors worldwide provide at least US$120 billion in development and humanitarian aid to developing countries.
World Bank Vice President for Africa Ms.
Obiageli Ezekwesili has said that a greater chunk of the money goes into health and education in Africa particularly but those two sectors had failed to deliver as expected, partly due to ineffective monitoring and lack of transparency in the application of funds.
TI therefore, is advocating improved access to and disclosure of public information to allow citizens, parliament, journalists and investigators to follow public and aid money, cleaning up public procurement and sanctioning violators, strengthening institutions of oversight and engaging civil society and harmonizing donor activity to prevent abuse.