Aid transparency is crucial not only to the understanding and legitimacy of development cooperation policies, but also to aid effectiveness. This is why France places transparency at the heart of its processes and practices. Transparency must include citizens and recipient countries by offering them access to regularly updated, detailed information on current projects, presented in a readable manner.
- enable tax-payers, members of Parliament and public opinion to assess the use of public money;
- enable recipient countries to plan income from external sources and establish budgets that are more reliable and coherent;
- promote coordination and division of labour between donors.
Since the Paris Declaration (2005) on aid effectiveness, the international community has frequently called for greater transparency. Accordingly, France has increased its focus on accountability and the publication of information on aid.
Website for the transparency of aid to MaliFor the first time, in September, a website was set up to allow Internet users to monitor and evaluate all French development assistance projects in Mali. It provides information on the projects and the amounts of funding, as well as a feedback form enabling the citizens concerned to comment on project implementation via SMS or the Internet.
- The website can be found at: http://transparence.ambafrance-ml.org/
At a more general level, the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) concluded in July2013 that France would endeavour to publish the information required under the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard for priority countries suffering from poverty in2014.
Since2011, France’s open data policy has led to the publication of development assistance information on the website www.data.gouv.fr.
France contributes to the aid statistics work of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and ensures that the data provided is more and more detailed each year.
France has extended and improved its accountability practices (biennial report to Parliament, triennial budget planning, and increasingly detailed annexes to appropriations bills) and continues to communicate regularly with its development partners at a local level.
Project funding is the most common tool of development cooperation.
A project is a collection of elements, activities and projects agreed with the partner country, with a view to achieving specific goals or outcomes within a defined time period and geographical area, using a budget established in advance. Projects can vary considerably with regard to their goals, complexity, funding and duration. While small-scale projects have only modest amounts of funding at stake and often last no longer than a few months, large-scale projects may involve significant amounts of money, may need to be implemented in stages and may last several years.
Our projects also include the assistance delivered through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or multilateral organisations, if it involves setting up projects or programmes. However, budget support, general contributions to NGOs and multilateral organisations, grants, experts, technical assistance, debt relief and some administrative costs are not covered by the term “project”.
The Priority Solidarity Fund (PSF) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the project aid instrument for countries in France’s Priority Solidarity Zone.
Established under the reform of the French cooperation system, it replaces the Cooperation and Assistance Fund Its purpose is to fund, via grants only, the support offered to those countries by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regard to institutional, social and cultural development and research. It is accompanied by support for the activities of non-governmental organisations and project aid entrusted to the French Development Agency (AFD), the operator of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The PSF puts into practice the principles of the French development assistance policy:
- strengthening aid effectiveness by adopting a “project” approach which helps to streamline activities and foster a culture of performance and an outcome-based mentality;
- constructing a long-term vision that takes into consideration the time needed for government policy to be implemented and social change to take place, based on a multi-year framework adopted by France and its partner countries;
- adapting to a diverse, developing world that requires activities to be tailored to suit the characteristics of the countries concerned. The PSF is a scheme based on a series of goals, which form an overarching vision and determine the distribution of funding. Its structure resembles a continuous chain of activities that are planned, then executed. Consequently, it complies fully with the Institutional Act on Finance Legislation (LOLF).
In order to be eligible, a project or programme must run for more than one year and must have precise and measurable goals and a fixed time plan. It must be accompanied by follow-up indicators to enable a post-project evaluation to be carried out:
- projects carried out under formal partnerships established by contract;
- support for institutional partners in order to strengthen their capacity to act;
- support for civil society in developing countries in order to satisfy the requirements for exercising citizenship in democratic institutions;
- determination to achieve transparency.The PSF is a key instrument for partnership not only with States, but also with other donors and civil society. Since it fulfils an institutional purpose, it may be used in combination with all of the national structures of a country, including ministries, local and regional authorities, and public establishments. It is a tool to combat poverty that involves civil society.
The PSF combines two levels of management: firstly, a strategic orientation board (COS), which is a planning and monitoring body involving France’s national representatives, and secondly, a project committee, which is an interministerial group responsible for assessing the projects.
In response to the most serious situations, where human lives are at stake, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mobilises Programmed Food Aid (AAP), in addition to the emergency assistance implemented by the Crisis Centre (CDC).
The implementation of AAP falls within the framework of the conclusions of the Council of the European Union of 10 May 2010 on humanitarian food aid.