Alignment is the noun form of the verb to align, which literally means to arrange something in a correct position.
The POM states the aims of the principle of alignment as follows (POM, 2014):
The main goal of this principle is to ensure that OWNP will align with the policies, priorities, strategies and plans of the pertinent Ministries’ Sectoral Development Plans and with the administrative systems, standards and procedures of the Federal and Regional Governments of Ethiopia. The principle also ensures that WASH is recognized and affirmed as an integral, ongoing component of the Government’s broader developmental program and WaSH responsibilities are incorporated in the established process streams and mandates of the four sector agencies’ staff at all levels. The other goal is an internal alignment of structures and procedures within government, both vertically (i.e. from Federal to Kebele level) and horizontally (i.e. across the different subsectors which comprise WASH).
Alignment was one of the principles included in the Paris Declaration. Who and what needed to be aligned in order to make aid more effective?
Aid donors committed to align their support with the strategies and policies of the recipient countries.
Alignment, in the terms of the Paris Declaration, was between donors and partner countries. The OWNP took this principle and modified it to be applied within a country, i.e. Ethiopia. Alignment in the OWNP, as you can see in the extract from the POM, refers mainly to internal processes between the four ‘pertinent’ ministries (water, health, education and finance), aligning their activities with each other at all levels. Furthermore, for its full and practical implementation, the principle of alignment should be adopted by all participants of development programmes including non-governmental partners who align their activities with those of the Ethiopian government.
Alignment is an important principle to apply in practical situations at local level as well. Imagine you were an urban WASH worker in a small town. In that role you may come across many different and separate WASH plans of action prepared by different partners that were not coordinated. What steps could you take to try to align those plans of action with each other? One thing you could do is to call a meeting for all the partners involved and ask them to present their respective plans. With the principle of alignment in mind, you should try to focus the meeting on coming up with one consolidated WASH plan of action for the town. By bringing the interested parties together you are not only demonstrating alignment of activities, but also harmonisation, which is the next guiding principle to be discussed.