BY JULIE BISHOP
ACROSS THE WORLD there is an ongoing debate about aid effectiveness - how, when, where, for whom and for what outcomes, the aid dollar should be spent.
In Australia, the Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness published a report in April with a number of recommendations to improve the Australian aid program.
The review pointed out that while the Australian government is spending about $4 billion a year in running a substantial aid program in many countries across the world, the Australian people also contribute about $800 million each year to non-government organisations for aid work, and many Australians volunteer their time and skills overseas.
It noted that the challenge is not to just to spend more money, but to spend it effectively.
In order to achieve greater effectiveness, and efficiency, in our aid program, there will be a real need for innovative thinking, creative ideas and an openness to new approaches.
This can mean building on current practices by doing some things differently, as well as initiating and implementing entirely new approaches by doing different things.
Take health and medical services in developing countries, which can often be difficult to deliver because of poor infrastructure and support services, particularly in remote locations.
The scale of providing health services in Papua New Guinea for example, is evidenced by the fact that it is reported that only 33 dentists are located in this nation of more than 6 million people.
The [federal] government has thus far failed to put in place the performance benchmarks against which the aid program and AusAID's performance can be judged.
Australians are generous people but support for the foreign aid budget can only be maintained if people are confident that taxpayer funds are being spent on the right aid in the right quantity being delivered in the right way to the right place at the right time.
Julie Bishop MP is Australia’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
Source: Sydney Morning Herald, National Times, 2 November