After several years of development aid being ruled by conditionality, the international trend in discussion revolving around development co-operation and aid efficiency has gradually shifted focus towards the concepts of “ownership” and “partnership”. Through international organizations and official documents, like for instance the OECD-DAC and their Paris Declaration on Aid Efficiency of 2005, these terms have become close to synonymous with aid efficiency in a lot of donor countries.
In this study I have reviewed the international discussion concerning these new terms – how they came about and what they entail for both donors and recipients, and further how the Japanese aid policy relates to them with their own similar terminology of self-help efforts. After defining what characterizes each of the philosophies, I have discussed what policy may work better in certain development environments, and analyzed specialist’s opinions as to what measures Japan can take to better harmonize with the ideas in the international community and raise the effectiveness of aid, as well as what the international community can learn from the extensive Japanese aid experiences.
Major findings include the fact that there not necessarily is such a thing as a superior aid modality. Based on the specific conditions and development environments in a developing country, ideal strategies and modalities may vary greatly according to economic and social situations as well as general development environments. It is therefore of utmost importance to adapt and combine strategies and modalities in order to maximize the efficiency of aid. Japan could thus in certain cases benefit from harmonizing more with the international community by for instance increasing focus on budget support and basket funding or moving away from so-called request based aid. Western donors, on the other hand, could for instance potentially benefit from taking project based aid into more careful consideration as a supplementary aid modality.