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Monday, 07 October 2013

Auditors slam effectiveness of EU’s €1.9 billion aid to Congo

A European Court of Auditors report stated that the effectiveness of the EU’s €1.9 billion aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 2003 and 2011 has been sorely limited, with less than half of programmes likely to deliver the intended results. They outline a litany of reasons for the failures, including an absence of political will, the donor-driven dynamics of many aid programmes, and a lack of absorption capacity for aid that does arrive.
EU support to the DRC currently focuses on peace, security and policy projects, particularly in the troubled east Congo, along with good governance, public sector reform, health, environmental protection and ‘sustainable stabilization. But “sustainability is an unrealistic prospect in most cases,” the report says.
Andris Piebalgs, the EU’s development commissioner welcomed the auditors’ report in a statement, but noted that it was “premature to draw conclusions” about ongoing EU programmes which could be at an early stage of implementation. He said the work should be judged over the long term. He insisted that “The Court has recognized the ‘serious obstacles’ we face in trying to improve governance in the country and these challenges need to be taken into consideration when looking at our achievement,”.
But as well as questioning these achievements, the Court has criticized the way the EU has responded to the obstacles. “The Commission did not take sufficient account of these challenges when designing EU programmes,” auditors said. The Court recommends that the EU improve its cooperation strategy with the DRC, its risk assessment programmes, establishes achievable objectives, and strengthen its use of conditionality and policy dialogue.
Piebalgs  answered that it is better to fail to reach over-ambitious targets – in fields such as justice, democracy and good governance - than not to have them at all.
The Congo has hardly any roads or rail infrastructure, and its health and education systems are shattered. Around 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. The same percentage lacks sufficient access to food, and average life expectancy stands at 48 years. More than five million people have died in the conflict in DRC since 1994, leaving it one of the world’s poorest countries, with a UNDP human development index ranking of 187th out of 187 countries, EurActiv informs.

Source: EurActiv