OECD Development Co-operation peer review: Ireland 2020 published

OECD Development Co‑operation Peer Reviews: Ireland 2020

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Some of the text/comments in the review, which is overall very positive towards the work being done by the Irish development Co-operation programme, are highlighted below.  Clearly a concern not highlighted and unknown at the time of compiling the report is the impact that the financial crisis resulting from the current Covid-19 pandemic  is likely to have on the Irish and international economies.  As happened during the last financial crisis there was a reduction in funding to development co-operation, and there are currently fears in the development agency communities that this same financial loss to ODA will recur, impacting the “furthest behind” to the greatest extent.

As identified in the report financial assistance to fragile contexts has fallen since 2013. Of course, it must be acknowledged that it was starting from a very low base in some countries in 2013.

” In 2018, 55.5% of Irish official development assistance (ODA) was allocated to fragile contexts, well above the average of 38% for all DAC donors. However, the share has been declining each year since 2013, when allocations to fragile contexts made up from 67.9% of Ireland’s total ODA”

The Review also point out that “Ireland’s strong political commitment to reach 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA) is at risk of remaining unfulfilled. Since 2015, ODA volumes increased but the ODA ratio has stagnated, standing at 0.31% of GNI in 2018, despite a commitment to increase the ratio during periods of economic growth.”

Within the review Ireland is strongly urged and recommended to

“…..develop operational guidance on both reaching the furthest behind first and its top priorities, and it should implement a plan to roll out this guidance to staff and partners……………..”

Ireland is recognised as a successful influencer of global policies on sustainable development.

The international community has adopted important global frameworks thanks to Ireland’s effective facilitation. Ireland co-facilitated, with Kenya, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It co-facilitated, with Jordan, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which paved the way for the adoption of the Global Compacts on migration and refugees. Also noteworthy is Ireland’s support to enable the participation of representatives from least developed countries (LDCs) in global framework discussions, particularly in negotiations on the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change and meetings of the Scaling Up Nutrition network and the Commission on the Status of Women.

There is civil society support for development co-operation

The Irish population is very supportive of sustainable development, and the government and its partners are well placed to sustain and deepen this support The Irish population has a positive attitude towards development co-operation and acts in support of sustainable development.

In relation to national tax and finance

Ireland deserves credit for having undertaken a spill-over analysis in this critical area for its economy and, albeit with a long transition period slowly, phasing out loopholes as part of the OECD and Group of Twenty work on base erosion and profit shifting. It is fully compliant with global tax transparency standards (OECD, 2017[6]), has recently achieved compliance status on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (Financial Action Task Force, 2019[7]), and has made progress on implementing the OECD anti-bribery convention (OECD, 2018[8]). Ireland has signed and ratified the multilateral convention to implement tax treaty-related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and adopted its principal anti-abuse provision.3 It is also implementing the BEPS treaty related to minimum standards on treaty shopping. Building on the spill-over analysis, Ireland could continue to monitor the effects of its tax policies on revenue collection in developing countries.

Mainstreaming of gender equality and climate adaptation in programmes:

A Better World puts greater emphasis on cross-cutting issues and on leveraging interlinkages across sectorial interventions. It provides for expanding Ireland’s geographical focus, which may create a risk that development programmes may be spread too thin. The policy also includes a commitment to improve the way of working in order for Ireland to become a more dynamic, responsive and effective learning actor. Reaching the furthest behind first is at the core of A Better World, and Ireland is developing a clear and accessible guidance to this approach. Updated strategies and operational guidance on policy priorities is required to ensure that all actions contribute effectively to the achievement of A Better World. Mainstreaming of gender equality in policy and programming is advancing. Ireland mainstreams climate adaptation more than the DAC member average in its priority sectors. Nevertheless, new operational guidance and staff capacity-building could help Ireland to further embed a strategic approach to mainstreaming across the board.

Evaluation needs increased personnel:

Insufficient human resources impacted Ireland’s evaluation activities in the aftermath of the financial crisis. In 2014, the DFAT evaluation function had a staff equivalent to four and a half, dropping in 2015 to a minimum of one.

Ireland has a unique approach to crises and fragility that builds on learning, including from its troubled past, and focuses on key issues such as refugees and migration and gender.

A good range of tools – diplomatic, development and humanitarian – ensure that Ireland can design an appropriate response to individual fragile contexts. Efforts to clarify Ireland’s risk appetite in fragile contexts and to scale up conflict prevention programming would be useful. Ireland is widely seen as an excellent partner, providing quality financing and supporting its investments with a presence on key partner bodies such as boards and donor support groups where Ireland uses its influence to improve effectiveness and coherence. There are good efforts to align internal funding streams to support the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. Ireland could now continue to improve its coherence with other humanitarian, development and peace actors on the ground.


Ireland’s allocations largely follow its policy commitments to address crises and fragility:

In 2018, 55.5% of Irish official development assistance (ODA) was allocated to fragile contexts, well above the average of 38% for all DAC donors. However, the share has been declining each year since 2013, when allocations to fragile contexts made up from 67.9% of Ireland’s total ODA. Ireland will need to take care to ensure that its allocations match its policy ambitions. In terms of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, 28% of Ireland’s ODA to fragile contexts goes to humanitarian assistance and 11% to peace, which is roughly consistent with the average share to these areas allocated by other DAC members (OECD, n.d.[3]).

Effective programme design and instruments

Ireland’s history provides the backdrop for its unique approach to crises and fragility Although there is no formal cross-government mechanism guiding Ireland’s engagement in fragile contexts, there is general coherence across Irish efforts. This is largely driven by Ireland’s history. For instance, Ireland drew on its experience with the Good Friday Agreement to push for the participation of women in peace processes. However, a more deliberate co-ordination around Ireland’s approach to fragility would be beneficial, for example by ensuring the close alignment of Department of Defence 96  OECD DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION PEER REVIEWS: IRELAND 2020 © OECD 2020 contributions to peacekeeping; Department of Finance work on World Bank International Development Association replenishments; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine support to the Rome-based agencies; and the development co-operation programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Efforts to build a more systematic common Irish approach, as reflected in A Better World………………………….


Gender issues are a key focus

A Better World makes a significant commitment to gender equality, and this plays out in Ireland’s fragility and crisis programming. Ireland leads on the gender aspects of peacekeeping reform. It also has a strong global voice, policy and programming focus on Women, Peace and Security and is working on this through its humanitarian programming; for example, it is using its leadership role on ICRC donor support group to focus on sexual and gender based violence. Ireland’s role on gender equality issues in these contexts is much appreciated by partners.


Two recommendations implemented from the previous review in 2016:

Embassies and NGOs receiving support from headquarters should work together to improve dialogue and co-ordination for more effective programming in the partner country.

Ireland should further improve the transparency of its development co-operation.

Two recommendations partially implemented since 2016:

Ireland should work towards more systematic publication of both its programme reviews and the results of its humanitarian programme.

Ireland should communicate the rationale and projections for scaling up its ODA towards 0.7% of GNI to the public and key stakeholders. It should also start planning how increases will be allocated.



Ireland has effective delivery, partnerships and instruments of humanitarian assistance for rapid response:

 As noted in the previous peer review, Ireland has a range of tools for rapid response. The most useful is prepositioned funding with a core group of Irish NGOs, under its Emergency Response Funding Scheme. Funding to NGOs is sometimes supplemented by calls for proposals, with a rapid turnaround, for specific issues, as was recently done for Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ireland also supports the in-kind stocks of the Humanitarian Response Depots, although staff informed the peer review team that this would be reviewed in light of the global push towards greater cash programming and for local purchases of response items.  99 OECD DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION PEER REVIEWS: IRELAND 2020 © OECD 2020 Ireland is doing better than most DAC members on multi-annual funding Ireland’s funding arrangements are considered of high quality. In 2017, 42% of Ireland’s humanitarian funding was multi-year funding – up to three years for NGOs under the Humanitarian Programme Plan – and 53% was un-earmarked or only softly earmarked. This quality funding allows partners to plan ahead, include resilience approaches, save money and retain key staff. Ireland could usefully collect some of these success stories and share them with other, more reluctant, donors. Even funding through other government departments is highly predictable and flexible, as is the case in relationship of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with the World Food Programme. Partners across the board are highly appreciative of Ireland’s engagement and the quality of funding arrangements.

59 Years of Independence in SL

Best Wishes to the Sierra Leone community in Ireland on their special day today marking Independence. Our celebrations will be in our own homes this year. May you stay safe and well!

Best wishes to Sierra Leoneons in their own country and around the world!
In the words of Umaru Fofana via his twitter account:
It’s 59! Happy Independence Day, #SierraLeone. May tribes be only important to promote progressive cultures. May corruption be resisted by all no matter who the corrupt person is. May your citizens’ loyalty be to country, not Gov’t or political party. May #Covid19 go away SOON!
5:53 AM · Apr 27, 2020 from Sierra Leone·Twitter for iPhone

SLIP welcomes the lifting of the ban on pregnant girls attending school- another move for equality in education

Ban on pregnant girls attending school lifted- another move for equality in education in Sierra Leone

In a move that has been mooted for sometime now, yesterday the Government of Sierra Leone lifted the ban on pregnant girls attending school. This is an important move in addressing an inequality in education in SL which has been enforced since 2010. The lifting of the ban is in line with the ECOWAS Court finding that the right of pregnant girls to access school without discrimination was violated in Sierra Leone.

It is of course sad that the lifting of the ban  coincides with the closure of schools nationwide to lower the risk of contracting the corona-covid19 virus. There will be better days ahead for us all, we hope and pray!




Landmark Conference for SLIP

Opinion Piece

Landmark Conference for SLIP by Martin Rowan

‘Strengthening Education in Sierra Leone’ was the subject of a major conference jointly organised by the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership (SLIP) and Maynooth University Department of International Development. It took place at Renehan Hall, Maynooth University on Thursday 5th of March.

The event brought together 65 academics, activists, policy planners, and NGOs, from Ireland and Sierra Leone. It was a day of intense study of the issues being faced as Sierra Leone rebuilds its education system, and the decisions required of those who want to grow solidarity with that process.

The NGOs Concern Worldwide, Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation, Global Schoolroom, Don Bosco Network, Sight Savers Ireland, Afri-action from Ireland, Plan International -Ireland, The Gambia Ireland Volunteers in Education, Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, and  The Liberia Solidarity Group joined Yengema Secondary School Old Boys, and the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership in the reflection.

The day was led by lectures from Dr Staneala Beckley, Chair of the Teaching Service Commission of Sierra Leone, Most Rev Dr Henry Aruna, Bishop of Kenema, Sierra Leone and Ms Carol Hannon, Global Education Policy Specialist at Irish Aid.

The university sector was led by Maynooth University Departments of Education, International Development,  Adult and Community Education, and Applied Social Studies. They were joined by academics and researchers from, Technical University Dublin Blanchardstown, University College Dublin, Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin City University-St Patrick’s College and the faith based development organisation Misean Cara.

The morning and afternoon sessions were chaired by Dr Seán Farren, former Northern Ireland Minister for Further and Higher Education and later Minister for Finance, and Ms Nora Owen former Minister for Justice in the Republic of Ireland.

In opening the conference Professor Aidan Mulkeen, Registrar Maynooth University emphasised how much of a priority the topic of the conference is in his own research and professional experience in teacher policy in sub-Sahara Africa. The common themes he has come across in his work are shortage of teachers, poorly qualified teachers, the difficulty of finding teachers to work in remote locations, and the consequences of these for access to good quality education for the most disadvantaged young people in the world.

The speeches of Dr Beckley and Bishop Aruna are available in full, elsewhere on the SLIP website.

The event put us in the presence of key actors in education in Sierra Leone at State and Church level. They presented carefully researched, forward looking ambitions for education in the country. The ‘tragic Salone’ theme of the last thirty years of the work of the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership was finally behind us. We were surrounded by the architecture of Maynooth University which was put there over two centuries ago to enhance its educational project. Its momentum carried through to this day.

Notions of African exceptionalism, if they ever had any credibility, quickly evaporated under the intellectual rigour of the speakers and the participants. The structural and economic building blocks of an educational system are familiar and so are the terms of the challenges to them and the debate about them. This conference could have been about Ireland, Iceland, or India, as well as Sierra Leone.

The display of engagement by Irish NGOs was a very moving element of the day and a dynamic background to the discussion. SLIP has long cherished the ambition that in some public space we would experience the kaleidoscope of these varied commitments and projects. This was the fulfilment of that ambition with all it’s straining to do more, to construct new systems of involvement, and to find new participants.

The three main speakers dealt extensively with the question of equal and inclusive education for girls and young women in Sierra Leone. Since the time of the Ebola epidemic, the exclusion from school of girls who are pregnant has been a headline issue and it was the concern which guided the formulation of the agenda of this conference. The speakers brought us up to date with legislation, practice, and provision on this issue. They identified, too, the structural and ideological adjustments that need to be made in order for the educational process to be a more sympathetic and humanising building place for young women, and men. Dr Beckley suggested that girls’ education has been substituted for gender in education. Reversing that direction would be key to fulfilling the aim of the conference.

The 2004 Education Act seems to give almost complete control to the Minister for Education over the governorship of schools and this is a disturbing reality for the faith based schools sector. One speaker from the floor said the Act sounded like it was formulated by an army general. It gives lots of responsibility and little authority to the patron body, while leaving it with many of the bills. The promised revision and redrafting of this legislation would help towards greater democracy and inclusiveness in an educational system in which over 50% of schools are Catholic schools.

Irish Aid provides the financial and policy context for much of what happens between Ireland and Sierra Leone. The contribution of Ms Carol Hannon on this subject was very important for the conference. This is the twentieth year of diplomatic relations between the two countries and it is a growing and deepening relationship.

The fact that  a conference on this topic happened in Ireland, and was attended by so many with a serious stake in that country, suggests that Sierra Leone has transitioned to a new development agenda. This is the first time that a clear path ahead has been visible since the outbreak of the civil war there twenty nine years ago yesterday. The relief and excitement of that new prospect gave the conference a landmark status.



Lá sona Phádraig dar léitheoirí go léir!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our readers and subscribers!


What a beautiful sight to see the Cotton tree in even brighter green!

Thank you Sierra Leone and the Irish Embassy in Sierra Leone.

This gesture honours Ireland, the Irish people who worked in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leoneon people who live and work in Ireland. There is a reach back of over 150 years to the connections between Ireland and Sierra Leone. Those connections continue in 2020 and we hope they strengthen and deepen in the years to come.

Green is the colour of life, hope, growth, nature and all things organic. We surely need hope in the present situation in Ireland with the corona virus.



Ambassador Lesley Ní Bhrian with the Chief Administrator  of the freetown City council, Festus Kally.

(Photos from IrlEmbFreetown)