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Pacific Islands

Returning to a pre-Covid aid system will not fit in the future

Thursday 28 October 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National

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Returning to a pre-Covid aid system will not fit in the future
Prime Minister Mark OPM/21083010.

Covid-19 is our opportunity to put things right in the aid system, said two Pacific prime ministers at the Council for International Development’s annual conference.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown and Samoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa both thanked New Zealand for its support over many decades through the aid programme, but challenged all donors in the region to re-think how aid is designed and delivered.

“A superior attitude taken by donors of ‘we know best’ will not yield the desired lasting results,” said PM Brown.

Donor driven approaches seldom address the needs of the recipient partners if the driver is geo-politics not development, he added.

Samoa has been signed up to aid effectiveness and climate change agreements for many years to ensure its voice is heard, said PM Fiamē.

“(Aid relationships) were not always in our interests. From concept to implementation of programmes, our views were only fleeting comma stops, our priorities often lost in whirring scenarios,” she said

“Our efforts to build back better (after Covid) must be greater than the sum of their parts. Diverse stakeholders must work in harmony and synergy to share complimentary knowledge and experience.”

The prime ministers identified key ways in which aid and development post Covid, could have real impact:

  • Increase collaboration across sectors, and include the private sector in the Pacific as the key engine of growth, said PM Fiamē
  • Support the strengthening of local systems and governance – then ‘where those systems are robust, there is no excuse not to use them,’ said PM Brown
  • Provide flexibility in funding mechanisms, particularly during cyclone season, to facilitate access to local actors
  • Make sure actors, particularly Non-Government-Organisations are well represented at all stages of development and humanitarian responses

“Covid continues without an end in sight, and now the Pacific faces a cyclone season,but this is an important opportunity to further strengthen local humanitarian actors,” said PM Fiamē.

“Covid has only exacerbated fundamental cleavages in the delivery of aid to the Pacific. Left unaddressed, this will only hold back the region’s long term development,” said PM Brown.