Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

From aid effectiveness to poverty reduction: Is foreign donor support to Southern African Development Community (SADC) improving?
Elling N Tjønneland

Executive summary

This report was commissioned by the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis under the auspices of its research programme for regional integration and development (FOPRISA). The report seeks to present and analyse progress and achievements in implementing the Windhoek Declaration on a new partnership between SADC and its international cooperating partners. The Declaration was adopted at the consultative conference between SADC and its foreign partners in Windhoek in April 2006. This report is published ahead of the next consultative meeting between SADC and donors agencies Ė SADCís international conference on poverty and development in Mauritius in April 2008.

The Windhoek Declaration

The Windhoek Declaration is closely modelled on the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness. It is structured around the five Paris principles of ownership, alignment, harmonisation, management for results, and mutual accountability.

Donor agencies and partners are making progress in implementing the Paris Declaration, but they are lagging substantially behind the implementation targets. It has also become more challenging because of the proliferation of aid instruments and fragmentation of support provided.

In southern Africa both SADC and the donor agencies have committed themselves to making development assistance more effective. This includes stronger ownership by SADC, and more efforts by donors to harmonise and deliver aid in accordance with SADC priorities. Structures are also to be established at different levels to facilitate communication and dialogue.

However, the principles underlying the Declaration are largely derived from official development aid to country-level developments. The Declaration is weak on the implications for regional support and the commitments required to ensure alignment between SADC regional development objectives and national development efforts, and between the regional and country-level support provided by donor agencies.


An action plan for the implementation of the Windhoek Declaration is currently being developed. It contains a list of activities for each of the fi ve Paris principles. A total of 10 objectives, 16 outcomes and 15 activities are listed in the most recent draft. Time frames and indicators are provided for most.

The draft action plan is an important step forward, but it is kept at a general level. It is strong on intended outcomes, but still too weak on identifying activities that may help achieve those outcomes. This applies to the operationalisation of commitments by SADC as well as by donors.

This report identifies the establishment of the thematic groups as possibly the most important achievement since Windhoek. These groups are envisaged as the key drivers for achieving greater aid effectiveness. Thematic groups will be established in SADCís priority areas. Each thematic group will have one lead donor agency which will assist the relevant directorate in the Secretariat in facilitating donor harmonisation, resource mobilisation and capacity building, and in implementation. Agreement has been reached on the establishment of nine such groups of which eight have been established.

The most advanced thematic group is the one focusing on HIV/AIDS. Here all donors have agreed with SADC on a common work plan, and some of the donors have also decided to pool their resources in a basket fund. Progress in the other groups is much more limited so far. A particular challenge is facing the thematic group dealing with support to capacity building at the Secretariat and SADC institutions. There is an urgent need for improving external support in this area.

The report attempts to identify the main components and features of the regional support provided by foreign donor agencies. Regional support is provided directly to the Secretariat, to SADC subsidiarity organisations and implementing agencies, as well as to other regional public and private institutions, to national institutions with regional programmes, and to projects involving two or more SADC countries.

Most external funding is provided directly to subsidiarity organisations and implementing agencies. Few donors provide direct support to the SADC Secretariat. An increasing share of donor funding for regional programmes is provided through pan-African initiatives and institutions. It is also noted that nearly all donor agencies provide significant funding to a range of private institutions and NGOs. This is especially evident in the politics, defence and security areas.

New partners

There are a number of important external developments that may have an impact upon SADC, and on how foreign donors implement the Windhoek Declaration. The report identifies and examines implications of changing donor approaches to the role of South Africa, and to the emerging role of China, India and Brazil in Africa.

Several of SADCís main cooperating partners are emphasising the importance of working with South Africa as the regional economic and political power in southern Africa and beyond. This has more recently also led to efforts to work with South Africa in aid-funded development projects in a third country (trilateralism). This has not yet led to many projects. In the SADC region trilateralism is most strongly evident with donor-funding for a number of projects implemented by South Africa in the DRC, and also in the use of training facilities in South Africa. Several donor agencies are preparing to increase funding for such initiatives with South Africa. These efforts have gained momentum with the emerging initiatives from South Africa to establish a development aid mechanism for support to Africa.

The EU, a major financial supporter of SADC, has for a long time made portions (up to 10%) of its aid programme with South Africa available for regional purposes and activities in third countries. The UK development agency DFID has in its new regional strategy strongly emphasised the importance of South Africa as a strategic partner in southern Africa. Most recently, the Nordic countries have prepared a draft Declaration of Intent for a partnership with South Africa in Africa. The draft Declaration emphasises the importance of the principles outlined in the Windhoek Declaration, and the ownership by the third country in any such trilateral engagement.

This report emphasises that the rapidly expanding engagement by China, India, Brazil and other Asian and South American countries in (Southern) Africa opens up new opportunities and new challenges for development and regional cooperation. The importance of these new international partners is not primarily as providers of development assistance but more as providers of development support and political and economic cooperation. There are also important differences between them with only India giving priority to engaging directly with SADC.


The Windhoek Declaration is an important platform for improved cooperation between SADC and their international cooperation partners. It is too early to pass any judgment on the outcome of this Declaration, but the report concludes that a strong potential for better cooperation has been created.

Five challenges are singled out as being particularly important in making the Windhoek Declaration an effective instrument in regional cooperation. One is to ensure that SADC has ownership of donor-funded initiatives. We may have a situation where donor agencies move towards strong alignment, but where SADC ownership remains weak.

Secondly, the strengthening of thematic groups may lead to fragmentation if the capacities of the Secretariat and the directorates are not strengthened.

Thirdly, it is important that SADC engages with the new partners in the South and involves them in the further implementation of the Windhoek Declaration.

Fourthly, the report emphasises that only SADC member states can provide SADC with the support, resources and authority required to take the regional integration agenda forward. The Windhoek Declaration is only an instrument to assist this process.

Finally, this report notes the need for better alignment between national and regional efforts to reduce poverty. This applies to donor agencies as well as to SADC and its member states.

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