• Why we 'like' the aid advisors review.

    Posted by Ben

    31 January, 2012

    AusAID's recently completed Aid Advisor Review just barely made a dent in a media landscape dominated by cricketing comebacks, tennis marathons, lost Prime Ministerial shoes and the like, but it's a small, good thing, and another step in the right direction for Australia's aid program.

    Advisors can be tremendous for building capacity, transferring skills and knowledge, and filling critical human resource gaps in developing countries. However, as previously discussed on this blog, they can be pricey and it's not always the most cost-effective AusAID at workAusAID at workAusAID at workway, or the most strategic way to build national ownership for development priorities and deliver results that help the poor. Continuing to reduce our reliance on advisors and contractors to deliver our aid program is a good way to manage a growing aid budget well and build on trends towards greater partner country ownership of agreed development priorities.

    Australia still has more to do in meeting our commitment to lifting aid to 0.5% of national income by 2015 (let alone setting a timetable to meet our long-standing commitment to 0.7%), but putting this piece of the puzzle in place helps make our aid program more cost-effective and more strongly driven by clearly identified development objectives.

    The Aid Advisor Review (which can be dowloaded from the Foreign Affairs website) highlights that advisors in Australia's aid program are (by and large) effectively helping to alleviate poverty and respond to development needs in our region and beyond. Only about 1/4 of the advisor positions under review (257 positions) will be phased out over the next two years, mostly because they have either successfully fulfilled the objective of the position, or the priorities of the country program have changed. The money saved from these positions will be directed into areas of the aid program, such as basic health or education.

    The Government has also accepted the Advisor Review's recommendations to set clear salary and allowances caps and polices. This will  bring salaries in line with international standards, and make our aid program better value for money.

    If Australia's Aid Advisor Review was a facebook post, I'd be liking it.

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    Ben Thurley is the newly appointed Political Engagement Coordinator for Micah Challenge Australia. Ben previously worked with TEAR Australia and has just spent four years in Nepal volunteering as an advocacy advisor to a local Nepali organisation.