Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director Oxfam International, gave the inaugural IFAD Lecture at the recent 38th session of the Governing Council, IFAD's annual meeting of Member States. Her talk, entitled The Future of Aid, discussed the relevancy and future of aid in a post-2015 world.


"I cannot pretend that we don't need aid," Byanyima said, "but good aid needs to work itself out of a job." Although aid has the potential for great change, too often donors prioritize their own needs over those of their partners, she suggested. Aid should primarily benefit people at the grassroots, catalysing investments and empowerment. It needs to support the poor and marginalized so that they can find their voice and take a more active role in their communities.


First and foremost, local people need to be "in the driving seat" of partnerships between governments, businesses and rural communities, Byanyima explained. Farmers are rarely asked what they need or want, she said, and programmes responding to these desires are "even rarer." Aid should support the progress that citizens envision. Smallholder farmers are not mere beneficiaries, Byanyima noted; they are potential "innovators, investors and voters" who could flourish with the proper support.


Furthermore, aid needs to work against corruption. According to Byanyima, tax avoidance costs developing countries (and their citizens) €123 billion each year. Aid should support governmental efforts to build "efficient and effective" financial systems that help channel more aid to those who need it most. Additionally, she said, aid needs to be sustainable and not tied to "protectionist policies" or other schemes that benefit donor countries.


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