AidWatch Report 2012 • 45
Estonia Country page prepared by Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation (AKÜ).
0,12% ODA/ GNI
The past year has been positive for Estonia’s development cooperation. Unlike most countries, Estonia managed to keep raising its ODA expenditure and demonstrate international solidarity with the most vulnerable. Furthermore, the MFA together with domestic and partner country stakeholders, drafted the first bilateral memorandum of understanding with Georgia, thereby increasing the focus and predictability of its ODA. NGO recommendations about paying more attention to women’s empowerment are slowly but surely gaining ground in programming and implementation of activities. At the same time, Estonia still does not have a system for independent qualitative evaluation of the real impacts its assistance is making on the lives of the beneficiaries of its actions. In particular, the effectiveness of technical assistance, which makes up most of Estonia’s bilateral cooperation, needs to be assessed. NGOs are increasingly more often invited to consult on national and international development-related policies, but the quality of inclusion can still be improved.
Estonia performed relatively well in terms of financing of ODA. The country is on track to reach the national 0,17%/GNI goal by 2015. Still, civil society is hoping that the government will seriously consider striving towards the original 0,33% commitment. Inflated aid is almost non-existent. There is some spending on scholarships to students from developing countries and on a refugee reception center, but these costs make up a marginal part of all ODA. Estonia does not participate in debt relief and does not provide tied aid.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates Estonia’s development cooperation programmes as well as funds allocated from the national budget for the development cooperation and humanitarian aid. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the financial transfers to multilateral organisations. Other governmental agencies implement specific projects in the scope of their competence. . The Ministry of Defense has also been outstandingly active in implementing development projects and somewhat smaller contributions come from the Ministries of Education and Research, Environment, Agriculture and Social Affairs. Other public institutions’ role in financing development activities has been marginal.
Bilateral aid makes up a quarter of Estonia’s aid, yet it is quite politicized. The strategic plan for Estonia’s development cooperation identifies Afghanistan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and since 2011 also Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, as the priority partners for its bilateral development assistance. The most favored partners are Afghanistan and Georgia, followed by Moldova and Ukraine. In 2010, Estonia spent merely 2% of its bilateral aid on African countries. Poverty reduction and contribution to the achievement of the MDGs are declared to be the highest priorities of Estonia’s development policy. Six priority sectors and eleven concrete measures have been selected, but not all receive equal support. By far, the most funding goes to supporting peace, human rights and democracy, but also to advancing human development through access to education and health care services.
Challenges in 2012 and beyond
COUNTRIES & SECTORS
Increased funding for improving the conditions of women and children living in poverty and improvements in aid transparency are great indicators that Estonia’s development cooperation is advancing in a positive direction. However, Estonia is still a long way from meeting the 0,33 target by 2015 set by the EU, which implies that there is still low political will to deal with this topic. There is also a dire need for improving aid effectiveness by starting qualitative evaluation of aid activities, improving the quality of technical assistance and preparation of the country strategy papers for the priority countries. For the best results, all domestic stakeholders need to work together in a coherent and constructive framework, because assisting the world’s most vulnerable is a cross-sectorial task and requires innovative multi-faceted solutions.
RECOMmENDATIONS • • • •
Develop and implement regular and systematic methods for evaluating the effectiveness of its aid. Actively work towards meeting the 0,33% ODA commitment by 2015. Strive towards signing bilateral agreements with all of its priority development partners and narrow the sectorial focus more. Give preference to longer-term projects over ad hoc initiatives.