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Civil Society Regional Conference on ODA

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More than 70 members of Asian civil society, aware of the structural problems of Official Development Assistance (ODA), gathered together for a three day regional conference in Manila, Philippines to discuss the role of the civil society in developing a policy framework to ensure that ODA benefits the social development of the recipient countries.
A regional forum, “Building an Asian Peoples’ Agenda on Aid: Conference on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Asia” was held in Manila, Philippines on 25-27 July 2007. The conference was co-organised by The Global Call to Action against Poverty-Asia (GCAP) and ODA Watch-Philippines. FORUM-ASIA, along with Sustainability Watch, JVC-ODA Reform Network, Social Watch, Jubilee South Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD), CCEJ-Korea, SANSAD, and Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE), were the sponsoring organisations. More than 70 participants from various Asian countries including Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Thailand gathered together to discuss and develop a civil society policy framework on ODA.

Much concern was expressed among Asian countries as ODA has not been reducing poverty and increasing social development of the recipient countries due to structural problems. In attempts to address this issue, the three day regional conference consisted of case presentations on ODA effectiveness from civil society organisations of both donor and recipient countries, In addition, various workshops discussed the impact of ODA on different social sectors such as education, environment, gender, human rights and trade.  

While the discussions between different members of Asian civil society shed light on many structural problems, such as the political nature of ODA, lack of leveraging power of developing countries, lack of government capacity, corruption and unequal ODA sectoral allocation, the conference provided an opportunity for civil society groups from donor and recipient countries to share experiences and struggles regarding past ODA projects. They were able to adopt a declaration which outlines policy recommendations to donor and recipient countries as well as civil society to ensure transparency, community participation and accountability in all ODA projects and processes.