Global Aid Architecture

The current global aid architecture represents the wide-ranging and complex challenges that single actors cannot address alone. Key actors at the national, bilateral and multilateral levels, including the United Nations s ystem, have been re-examining their roles and ways to make their development assistance more effective in achieving universally accepted goals and standards.

Although global programmes have a unique and necessary contribution to make, their evaluations raise doubts about the wisdom of some popular approaches and suggest directions for reform of the aid architecture. Duplication and overlapping of country-specific assistance, for example, have raised anew the perennial issues of aid effectiveness: priority, ownership, consistency of goals and accountability for results.


Reform of the global aid architecture has roots in the February 2003 Rome Declaration, through which 18 bilateral donors and 16 multilateral institutions committed themselves to adopt common criteria on aid coordination, programme-based alignment of budget support with budget-year cycles, and initiatives aimed at continual and shared learning.

Recently, almost all of the major official donors have promised to double their aid levels. Also, new champions of the global poor – notably Bill Gates, Bono, Warren Buffett and Bill Clinton – have helped dramatically raise aid funding from unconventional sources. But what will be achieved with the new resources will depend greatly on how they are channelled.

In the current global aid architecture, a larger share of official development assistance goes through partnership-based global programmes. The new aid mechanisms, as informed by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), the Rome Declaration (2003) and the Monterrey Consensus (2002), suggest that aid relationships should be organized around five principles:

  1. Country ownership
  2. Alignment
  3. Harmonization
  4. Managing for results
  5. Mutual accountability.

These principles form a partnership model for donors to operate within national systems for development planning, budgeting, financing and monitoring – all at various levels of government and through harmonized approaches. The principle of putting recipient countries ‘in the driver’s seat’ serves to ensure that decisions on how and where aid is to be deployed are based on each country’s priorities and policies, and it means they can be held accountable for results.

Aid to education in emergencies


Agencies providing support for education and development need to adapt to the rapidly changing and increasingly complex operational environments within the global aid architecture, as well as new and emerging partnership opportunities and challenges.

In addition to the refocusing of international goals for education, there have been significant changes in the new aid architecture. The ongoing harmonization and simplification efforts within the UN system have created opportunities for greater cooperation at the country level, through joint programming within the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.

These changes in the aid architecture will have a significant impact on the role of each organization as a partner in education and development, as an advocate and facilitator of children’s right to education, and as a champion for girls’ education and gender equality in education.

For further information, see ‘A Global Education Fund: Toward a true global compact on universal education’, which includes sections on education delivery to children affected by conflict and emergencies.

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