Technical cooperation (TC) as a form of aid generally involves support for study e.g. through scholarships and traineeships; posting of and support for experts (both expatriate and national); and support for research into challenges facing developing countries. This form of aid is seen as important in helping to develop the human and technical capacity developing country institutions require to manage the development process.
TC is perhaps one of the most criticised and least well evaluated aid modalities. Such weaknesses are not only down to problems with donors resisting efforts of recipients to define their TC (and policy) agenda, but also due to the inherent challenges faced in using such assistance to build and retain long term capacity for development.
One of the commitments donors have made in the Paris Declaration is to deliver 50% (or 100% for EU member states, who made their own commitment) of their TC in a coordinated manner based on country priorities by 2010. However, the indicator used to measure progress against this commitment have been widely criticised as being weak.
UK’s use of Technical Cooperation
Around 13% – i.e. £528m – of DFID’s bilateral aid in 2011 was delivered in the form of TC.
In 2006, the Department for International Development (DFID) published a How to Note on TC, to deliver guidance throughout the organisation on how best to ensure TC is tailored to country needs, is cost effective and delivers supports sustainable capacity development. However, to date DFID has not carried out an assessment of how effectively this guidance is being implemented and it is therefore unclear what changes have occurred in UK practices around the use of TC.
The surveys on implementation of the Paris Declaration showed that 48% of the UK’s TC was co-ordinated in 2005, rising to 60% in 2007. This was still some way off the EU target of 100% for 2010, but was also based on a questionable approach to surveying actual performance.
UKAN members are working to ensure that the UK government works with other donors to establish stronger standards for use of TC and better approaches to monitor their implementation.
For more information on TC:
“Real Aid 2 – Making Technical Assistance Work“, ActionAid
“Untying aid: Is it working?“, OECD