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Analysis

Great need for trust in the development assistance industry

Trust has long been highlighted as a success factor for successful development projects. But a new EBA report shows that control mechanisms are an important factor for Sida to trust an organization.

In 2016, the government appointed a Trust Delegation with the task of inspiring municipalities, county councils and authorities to govern their organizations in a trust-based manner. Although the Confidence Delegation has not been aimed at those who work with Sweden's international development assistance, there is great interest in these ideas from, for example, Sida and others who work in the field.

Trust, not least between people, has long been highlighted as a success factor for development aid projects and a prerequisite for good development aid relations. In a current study for the Expert Group for Development Aid Analysis (EBA), the trust of aid organizations has been examined. These are organizations that are so-called "intermediaries" - they receive money from Sida and pass it on to more local organizations.

Trust requires work

Among other things, the study shows that it is not always easy to build and manage trust between different people. One difficulty is the distance between recipients and donors, another is that administrators in aid organizations often rotate. In addition, development assistance is in itself a complex area, where, for example, harsh environments can lead to it becoming more difficult to establish and maintain personal ties.

In fields where aid workers work, meetings between donors and recipients, and between individuals in different organizations, can be strong. But outwardly admitting that you rely on personal contacts is often considered inappropriate, ie the relationship between friends. Friendship corruption is not something you want to be associated with. Overall, the study shows that trust between individuals is considered both inappropriate and insufficient as a basis for decisions in development work.

Governance and trust

Those who work in the field prefer to talk about other things that create trust than the personal relationship; rather, they point out that they rely on impersonal factors, such as that organizations are governed by systems of control and transparency in their handling of aid funds. The report therefore shows that those who work with aid - associations, research organizations, authorities and companies - like to organize themselves in a similar way. All use similar control tools and control structures to make Sida, for example, trust them.

Somewhat paradoxically, it seems that real control systems are needed for governance to be based on trust.

The seminar Trust and control - how does development assistance base its governance between these? Takes place on Friday 23/10 at 10-11.30 and is broadcast live via eba.se.

Is there something in the text that is incorrect? Contact us at opinion@fuf.se

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