Claims product is vague and poor.
Is Norway a kind, rich uncle, or a kind uncle that has lost track of where his riches go? How easy is it to monitor billions of kroner in aid, and how easy is it just to talk about it?
“I hope it’s a political product, because as a bureaucratic or academic product it’s rather poor,” Asle Toje, a researcher and commentator on the country’s foreign policy tells The Foreigner.
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) has just released its report about the effectiveness of Norwegian aid, given to some 110 different countries annually. Toje believes the report lacks substance.
“Exactly, that’s the question,” he says, when asked about what he thinks its main message is.
He goes on to say that the conclusions presented aren’t tied to empirical evidence in any meaningful way, and it isn’t clear whether the report’s ten points are conclusions or assumptions.
“The report is trying to answer ‘does aid work?’. It’s impossible to give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this.”
According to Toje what is presented is, if anything, confusing. He alleges that NORAD has wandered off the path in terms of what they should deliver.
Brunbukse/Wikimedia Commons“The reader would assume that the report concerns itself with results rather than questions. NORAD’s job isn’t to speculate on abstract questions, but to report about the empirical side of development aid. It’s not a department for generalities.”
Incidentals have been a problem for at least 17 years, Toje thinks. According to him NORAD remitted detailed annual reports to Parliament up to 1993. Their thoroughness then decreased until 2002, when they ceased to deliver them.
“The idea behind this was to free up resources to be used on forward-looking activities. The Result Report is supposed to be and alternative to the White Papers – and as such it fails to meet standards,” he says.
Toje is critical to the new report’s lack of detail, claiming that it looks more like a glossy ad magazine than a useful point of reference, whilst giving bad press to what he believes to be its smug and critical tone.
“It presents very few actual figures, and all the more adjectives and similes. You would expect the Result Report to lay out who the players are, where aid is directed, which channels NORAD uses to distribute it, to which countries and sectors, as well as what results have been achieved.”
Although he is concerned that the report gives an unsettling impression of a governmental department that has lost an overview of its own activities, Toje has a few suggestions as to how things could be improved.
“NORAD should deliver a bureaucratic product and deliver what the report purports to be. Some remarks about case studies and data would also be welcome, rather than just making generalisations based on so few details.”
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