Financing Poverty Alleviation vs. Promoting Democracy? Multi-Donor Budget Support in Zambia
Democratization, Volume 19, Issue 3, 2012, Special Issue: DO ALL GOOD THINGS GO TOGETHER? CONFLICTING OBJECTIVES IN DEMOCRACY PROMOTION
Posted: 5 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2012
Many approaches to supporting democracy in developing countries have been affected by recent international reforms geared towards improving aid effectiveness through better harmonizing interventions and greater alignment to recipient countries' strategies. The paradigmatic instrument for these attempts has been direct budget support, whereby donors attempt not only to promote poverty reduction but also to achieve the institutional modernization conducive to public sector reforms and democratic accountability. However, based on empirical evidence from a recent evaluation of budget support in Zambia, this article argues that attempts at harmonization among donors can be easily hampered by varying interpretations of the goal hierarchy of budget support. In the course of the Multi-Donor Budget Support process in Zambia, some donors have prioritized the financing function of the instrument, while others have emphasized its potential influence on institutional reforms. While some harmonization efforts proved successful at fostering a number of public-sector reforms, the remaining harmonization deficiencies hampered the realization of the instrument's full potential to craft a coherent incentive system for facilitating improvements in democratic accountability.
Keywords: democracy promotion, political conditionality, budget support, aid effectiveness, Zambia
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