Interview [ID: 115]

Monique Calon on a stock taking of aid flows to African agriculture

Calon reflects on discussions that recently took place at the CAADP partnership platform meeting in Johannesburg, where preliminary results of a DPTT stocktaking exercise were presented.

While this mapping – featuring under the title ‘Catching the Picture’ – does not attempt to be fully comprehensive, the general tenor of its findings will surely be indicative. The unconfirmed figure of USD 400 million of aid going to continental and regional organisations for African agriculture each year alone shows which interesting insights and maybe compelling instructions can be drawn from it.


Monique Calon; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands. June 2015.

Coordination of donor activity in support of African agriculture development is still lagging, even though donors’ engagement with national governments is strong. Much still needs to be done at regional and continental level in terms of aligning with one another says Monique Calon, Dutch Platform focal point and member of the CAADP development partners task team (DPTT) in this online interview with the Platform secretariat.


Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): African Development partners and donor development partners just met recently in Johannesburg to discuss CAADP: The Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, and the progress of it. Now, part of this meeting was a presentation on a stock taking that had been taking place around aid flows. The “Catching the Picture” exercise presented at the meeting there in Johannesburg, found that $400 million USD go to continental and regional organisations alone. Monique, what do you think: Are we seeing that there is an accounting mechanism coming up that will make these aid flows more comprehensive and lead towards better donor coordination?

Monique Calon: There are figures coming out of this “Catching the Picture” exercise, and the $400 million per year is just a first tentative figure because we don’t have the complete details yet. CAADP is more focused on you have to see this in relation to the whole CAADP process - where the process is more focused on domestic resource mobilization and self-funding by the countries and the regions themselves. What you are looking at is what could we do as a donor group to support domestic resource mobilisation? And that could be through certain initiatives, such as we’re undertaking with our own Ministry of Finance to support taxation systems in a number of countries or to support inclusive economic development. Which would mean that countries are able to mobilise more domestic resources. But, backtracking a little bit on this issue is the fact that the main emphasis of CAADP is at the country level. This is where there are existing donor working groups which are very much involved in looking at the co-ordination between the donors and the government. I think there is already a very strong basis.

At the regional level, there are some donor co-ordination mechanisms emerging. ECOWAS has a relatively organized donor group, led by Spain. COMESA, the donor group, is starting to get itself organised. You need to tackle these things at the right level.

The DP TT itself is more at the continental level and engages directly with the African Commission and with the NPCA. You can’t just bundle this. If you look at the “Catching the Picture” PowerPoint, you see a real big mess of all kinds of donors doing all kinds of things with these institutions. And in which the multi-donor trust fund plays a very small role. From that, we have to draw the conclusion that it’s time we get our acts together. Maybe not through a funding mechanism or an accountability mechanism, I’m not sure what I should understand under accountability. But, in any case, are we co-ordinating and are we providing co-ordinated support to the CAADP process? And are we doing it in line with the roles and responsibilities of that particular organisation.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): I spoke to Jeff Hill in December and he talked about new game changers or system changers.

Monique Calon: I am not sure there are game-changers there. I am not sure what exactly he was referring to. But, I do remember that he mentioned something about that there is not sufficient clarity on the roles and responsibilities of different partners. I think that’s something that we had expected to emerge last year, when we were discussing partnership agreements and that hasn’t materialised yet. It has been delayed a bit by the Malabo process and the need to develop a new roadmap. So we would like to see how the African institutions want to engage with the donors. And that will define the donor agenda. We don’t set the agenda, it’s actually being set by the African institutions.

Another issue is that we have to keep in mind that the concept of CAADP is based on mobilising domestic resources. So we should as donors see ourselves as supporting this particular process. And that might mean different types of funding modalities or different types of programmes. For example, the Dutch government supports tax systems in different countries, so that they can mobilise more domestic resources to be able to fund their own investment plans.

That is all coming out now, and the positioning of donors with regards to CAADP process needs to be clarified more. And it is only then that we can look at the types of financial instruments and the types of programmes that we need to be able to support that process. There is a move toward thinking more in terms of a thematic focus than an institutional focus. The first multi-donor trust fund was based upon institutions and aimed toward building capacities of institutions. Now that in most institutions, CAADP has become an integral part of their normal functioning and their normal institutional setup, you are moving into more results-oriented work. That is a bit of the thinking going on now, with regards to how the donors position themselves. I do think there is still a lot to be done in terms of donor coordination. And this “Catching the Picture” exercise is a good first step because it shows to some extent how unco-ordinated we are at the moment.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): The stock taking exercise had also found that more than 50% of the aid flows are actually bilateral. Do you see that coming, that there is more coordination around the bilateral funding flows?

Monique Calon: I don’t think that bilateral necessarily means that it’s not co-ordinated. It simply means that there is a flow of funding that goes directly from a donor to a particular agency. It’s more a question together with the agency and the donor group – checking to see whether these funding flows are actually well aligned with the CAADP results framework, with the CAADP processes and that there is regular dialogue on this. That level of organisation has not been achieved yet. We need to build up that dialogue: “Where are we going?” “How far are we?” “Where are the gaps in the system?” And then we can see which funding modality would be the most appropriate. Let’s face it, donors have their own policy agendas, so they might make particular choices that do tie in with CAADP processes that are definitely coordinated with other donors, but use the bilateral funding channel. It is a question of coordination more than creating a basket fund.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): Now that the MDTF has not been renewed for the time being, African institutions are obviously quite worried that the capacities they have slowly built up cannot be retained. Are there any mechanisms in sight to replace the functions of the MDTF?

Monique Calon: For the time being, we are discussing what the timeframe would be for certain institutions to make sure they have the necessary resources to continue the process at their levels. We had a discussion, for example, with COMESA, and they said that they are now in the process of putting the CAADP unit into their core institutions. That may take half a year or a certain amount of time insuring that there is no gap. Some institutions, like ECOWAS, have made use of the multi-donor trust fund, because they have a certain level of domestic resources. So, it differs between each institution. I think what needs to be said as well is that through the European Commission, a lot of funds are flowing to these institutions. And the” Catching the Picture” exercise actually shows that the multi-donor trust fund is not necessarily the biggest funder of these institutions. I think we have to reposition these things in the right place and then see where the gaps are, and where we would like to provide more support.

The MDTF, which has played a very prominent role in supporting CAADP institutions, was the right answer at the time. CAADP was in a bit of a crisis and we needed to directly support the institutions. But now that we are five, six years further one, and we see a lot of progress being made, and these institutions have incorporated CAADP as their own programme, and now we have to start looking at what the roadmap of the Malabo Declaration is all about – is getting to results. So that explains partly the thematic focus that we are looking at now. So, we could be sure that farmers on the ground improve their lives.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): So there were no specific requests for filling some particular funding gaps?

Monique Calon: At least not as far as I know. But we are exploring it and we haven’t finished the discussions. During the partnership platform meeting you only get to a certain point. And European donors will be having a meeting later in May to further discuss how we make sure we align and understand each other’s positions. And better understanding these funding flows.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): Wouldn’t it be better to co-ordinate early on before everything is set into plans? Do you know of anything on the horizon that somebody is attempting to change that?

Monique Calon: Obviously, the one thing that is on the horizon is the implementation of the Malabo roadmap. That is the focus at the moment, and that is where we will be checking our existing initiatives against that roadmap. And we will be looking at where the gaps are. And what does the African Union and what do the Heads of State want that we are not engaged in, and should we engage?

For example, one of the most important conclusions from the Malabo Declaration was that the African Heads of State agreed to try to triple the volume of interregional trade within the next ten years. We think that makes a lot of sense. I’m just selecting one that we are particularly interested in.

We are reviewing our existing programmes to see what we are doing now at the moment to support this. And, we are trying to develop a new collaborative effort with a number of other donors in West Africa to say “How can we build up programmes together, with ECOWAS and WAMU, to support that ambition?” It’s a combination of a thematic focus, looking at what we are doing at the moment and looking what we want to do more or better.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): Thank you very much.

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