The findings come from a report presented by Swedish government on Thursday which attempts for the first time to provide a thorough account of what Sweden’s extensive foreign aid programmes have achieved.
“All in all, the Government considers that many of the development assistance initiatives taken have been very useful in relation to the set goals,” said Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson in a statement.
“At the same time, the Communication shows the difficulties in describing the long-term effects of the activities receiving support via Swedish development assistance.”
The 150-page report reveals that Sweden’s foreign aid has an uneven track record and that “not all initiatives have been successful”.
Among other things, the report finds that projects funded by Sweden have not been sufficiently focused on results and that monitoring efforts have neglected pay enough attention to how projects improve quality of life for the poor.
The report is part of an ongoing effort begun when the current centre-right government came to power in late 2006 to improve the management and assessment of foreign assistance programmes implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
“There are many good examples of development assistance initiatives that have made a difference to people’s lives, but we still have a long way to go before we have development assistance that we can prove leads to long-term results,” said Carlsson.
“We have done a lot to improve results-based management, but we will now increase our demands both on Sida and ourselves.”
Specifically, the report urges Sida to strengthen its “performance culture” by establishing a uniform system for results-based management as well as focusing on expected and actual performance in the preparation and implementation of individual aid programmes.
In addition, the government wants Sida to exercise greater control over Swedish support to multilateral organizations and to seek the help of other donors in sharing the cost of evaluating aid projects’ long-term impact.