Identify in which areas of parliamentary strengthening donors support parliaments in Africa. Where possible identify how donors balance between supporting MPs and permanent staff; whether donors commonly undertake field visits; whether donors support parliamentary operational or recurrent costs; and the evidence of key factors of success and failure for parliamentary support.
Parliamentary strengthening programmes, including those focused on
parliaments in Africa, are diverse in the areas they cover. This is in
part because strengthening parliament activities includes issues
directly related to parliamentarians but also can include strengthening
the services and facilities that parliamentarians depend upon. A number
of programmes that help strengthen parliaments may ostensibly focus on
other governance areas.
This helpdesk research report identifies reviews of parliamentary
strengthening efforts and examines documents of a number of programmes
explicitly termed as parliamentary strengthening programmes.
Parliamentary strengthening can be focused on MPs, parliament or other
aspects of the political system. One way of looking at the activities
undertaken is to divide them into direct support or indirect support.
Indirect support is the support of specific policy issues, such as
health and education, which subsequently strengthens the parliamentary
process. Direct support is work where the objective is to strengthen
parliament for democratisation and good governance in general.
This research report was only able to identify one impact evaluation in
some way related to parliamentary strengthening though this was on a
village council rather than parliamentarians. There are few systematic
evaluations of the results of parliamentary strengthening though there
are a number of programme evaluations which identify whether programme
goals have been met. It may not be possible to identify factors for
success and failure for parliamentary strengthening in all contexts.
Contexts vary markedly in countries and it is important to understand
and adapt to the political context within which the parliament is
situated. Though there may not be clear factors for success and failure
there are a number of further lessons learned from parliamentary
strengthening programmes which include:
- A need for long term interventions.
- Interventions should be based on local demand and encourage
broad-based local ownership.
- Parliamentary strengthening should appear neutral.
- Issue-based approaches are particularly successful.
- Legislative assistance cannot be viewed in isolation from other areas
of support outside of parliament.
Another suggestion is that donor assistance to parliaments should adhere
to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, particularly in relation
to principles of harmonisation, alignment and ownership.
Rao, S. Donor support of African parliaments (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 994). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 11 pp.