Origins of the OWNP Guiding Principles

During the early years of the twenty-first century there were a number of major international events that were organised to improve the impact of international aid. These events brought together both the donors who gave funds for development programmes and the countries that received the funds. Their purpose was to discuss and agree ways to make more effective use of the financial aid that was being given by donors to the recipient countries.

The first significant event was the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness which was held in Rome in 2003. This was followed by the Roundtable on Managing for Development Results in Marrakech in 2004, and then by the second High Level Forum (HLF) held in Paris in 2005. The output from this forum event was the influential Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (see Box 4.1). In 2008, the Paris Declaration was endorsed and strengthened by the Accra Agenda for Action from the third HLF held in Accra (OECD, n.d. 1).

These global initiatives contributed to the introduction of principles intended to enhance the achievements of development programmes throughout the world and to increase the efficient use and effectiveness of aid resources. These initiatives formed the basis for the four Guiding Principles of the OWNP.

Box 4.1 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness

The Paris Declaration was the significant output from the High Level Forum in Paris, France in 2005 (Figure 4.1). The Forum was attended by representatives from over 100 industrialised and less developed countries, including Ethiopia. Both donor and recipient countries agreed to change the way they were undertaking development programmes. In addition, about 26 aid organisations and 14 international civil society organisations were represented in the meeting.

Figure 4.1 Logo of the second High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Paris in 2005.

The Paris Declaration laid out a practical, action-oriented roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. It put in place a series of specific measures for implementation and established performance indicators to assess progress. It also called for an international monitoring system to ensure that donors and recipients held each other accountable. The long list of partnership commitments mentioned in the Paris Declaration can be aggregated into five principles for making aid more effective (OECD, n.d. 2):

  1. Ownership: Developing countries should set their own development strategies, improve their institutions and tackle corruption.
  2. Alignment: Donor countries and organisations bring their support in line with developing countries strategies and use local systems.
  3. Harmonisation: Donor countries and organisations coordinate, simplify procedures and share information to avoid duplication.
  4. Results: Developing countries and donors focus on producing – and measuring results.
  5. Mutual accountability: Donors and developing countries are accountable for development results.

The first two principles established the importance of recipient countries determining their own priorities, and that donors should support this approach rather than imposing their own agendas. The third, harmonisation, also emphasised the need for collaboration and sharing. Harmonisation can be defined as bringing about agreement or standardisation among different people, plans or actions. It refers to the need for all stakeholders to work together, or, as you might say, to sing in harmony with each other. The fourth and fifth principles focused on the outputs, stating that aid should produce measurable results and all parties would share responsibility.

The OWNP adopted the development principles included in the Paris Declaration to guide its implementation. These principles are reflected in all related manuals, such as the WASH Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the WASH Implementation Framework (WIF) and the OWNP’s Programme Operational Manual (POM). (The POM is the main guiding document for management of funds channelled through the Consolidated WASH Account.)

Can you describe the main difference between the WASH MoU and WIF?

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The WASH MoU is a formal working document that outlines the procedures, roles, responsibilities and accountability of the signing ministries. It preceded the WIF, which is a more practical document mainly focused on how the WASH programmes are going to be implemented.

The need to adopt and incorporate these principles into the programme came out of the practical lessons learned from the national WASH sector endeavour during previous years. As you have already learned in Study Session 3, prior to 2004, WASH interventions were project-based, whereby any of the three components of WASH were implemented separately. Moreover, there was no appropriate policy or legal environment that supported integration between water supply, sanitation and hygiene interventions. Similarly, other essential considerations in programme design, such as community or beneficiary participation, gender and disability-related issues were overlooked. From the equity point of view, WASH interventions were concentrated in some geographic areas when others, especially hard-to-reach areas, were deprived of the opportunity and associated benefits.

However, since that time the situation has gradually been changing. As a result of various national and international initiatives, WASH interventions have become more programme rather than project-based and have become more participatory and inclusive in terms of geographic location, gender and disability. WASH programmes have been designed to include all regional states and to deal equitably with male and female, able and disabled people.

In line with these developments, the WIF set out four significant features for the national WASH programme which, after some development, became the Guiding Principles of the OWNP. These are described in the OWNP Final Document (OWNP, 2013):

  • Integration of the water, health, education and finance sectors.
  • Alignment of [implementing] partners’ activities with those of the Ethiopian government.
  • Harmonisation of partners’ approaches and activities.
  • Partnership between implementing parties at all levels.

Each of these principles is described in more detail in the following sections.

Last modified: Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 12:47 AM