Sweden looks to toughen conditions for development aid

Dismay over the how several United Nations (UN) organizations have used development aid from Sweden has led the government to propose tougher conditions for allowing aid groups to receive Swedish funding.

Sweden will not only finance international aid projects, but also wants the right to participate in how operations are managed, Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson has proposed.

If aid agencies are ineffective or don’t work toward Swedish goals and priorities, Sweden will reconsider its support.

The government has reviewed roughly 20 of the organizations which receive the most support from Sweden, and several UN-related groups are in danger of losing Swedish funding.

In the review, particular importance was placed on how the groups prioritize democracy and human rights, the environment and climate, as well as gender equality and the role of women in development.

In addition, Sweden also assessed the efficacy and results of the various organizations.

According to Sweden’s review, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is in effective and suffers from too much top-down management.

However, as the FAO is currently in the midst of a reform, Sweden has elected not to withdraw its funding of the organization.

“In other cases where Sweden has been working for improvements but hasn’t been heard, we have reason to review both the size of our aid and the level of continued engagement,” writes Carlsson in an article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The government plans to follow several other organizations closely because of their lack of effectiveness.

If the groups don’t undertake reforms and changes to improve their performance, Sweden may decide against continued long-term cooperation.

The specific agencies in danger of losing financing from Sweden include the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the UN Development Fund for Women, UNAIDS, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).