Total aid in 2011: €14m
About Latvia's aid commitments:
Changes in 2011
In 2011, Latvia’s programmable bilateral aid flow was too small to adopt a Development Co-operation Policy Plan for 2011. Nevertheless a new Development Cooperation Policy Programme for 2011-2015 was endorsed and a decision for an increase in bilateral ODA for 2012 was taken. Development cooperation actors in Latvia have welcomed this step after three successive years of nearly non-existent bilateral development cooperation. Furthermore, for the first time ever the government will offer co-funding to development actors that have successfully attracted other funds. This is a fruit borne by the MFA’s openness to CSO sector initiatives and participation in policy-making process. However, only around one third of the programmable aid will be available through an open grant competition.
A problem with non-programmable aid is that it leaves concerns about its genuineness. Latvia has inflated its ODA figures with refugee costs and scholarships to developing country students. Also, ODA-reportable projects implemented by different line ministries raise questions about the effectiveness as it usually comes in a form of technical assistance and fits the category of tied aid. Lastly, although the current amount is relatively low, Latvia reports its climate finance as ODA.
The responsibility to manage Latvia’s development cooperation policy falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Development Cooperation Policy Division is a relatively small entity consisting of only three employees and falling under Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Policy Department. Latvia does not yet have a separate development cooperation agency but hopefully this ambition will see daylight once bilateral aid flow will increase.
Countries and sectors
According to the new Development Cooperation Policy Programme for 2011-2015, Latvia has expanded the scope of its partner countries. Now Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Afghanistan have been joined by Central Asian countries. Latvia has not put forward any specific thematic focus in order to be able to adjust to the specific needs of each partner country at the same time making sure that all horizontal issues are well integrated in its development projects. In 2011, majority of Latvia’s bilateral aid has been spent on projects implemented by line ministries on a variety of topics, starting from scholarships to developing country students and ending with participation in EU observation missions. The only project funded by programmable aid took place in Kirghizstan and contributed to NGO efforts in integrating children with health issues in wider society. However, there are some worrying trends for 2012. Although all Latvia’s bilateral aid in 2012 will be spent according to its priorities set in policy papers, the decision on how to spend two thirds of the allocated funding were taken behind closed doors at the MFA.
Challenges in 2012 and beyond
Latvia’s main challenge for sticking to its aid commitments is a lack of awareness and deep understanding about development issues both at political and public level. Particularly in times of crises, issues such as development cooperation seem to slip politicians’ attention even though they might be at the core of solving the problems faced by the present-day world.
Stick to the aid commitments and keep on increasing bilateral aid flow
Channel bigger proportion of bilateral aid via open grant competitions
Consider working on guidelines for technical cooperation
Do not account fast finance for climate as ODA
Comply with the IATI publishing standards