Fragmentation of Aid: Implications for Donors (Policy-Oriented Panel)

The development cooperation landscape is in a flux as a result of a continuous diversification of goals, approaches and the proliferation of actors. The proliferation of actors and approaches has led to a fragmented development cooperation landscape in many countries, in particular in low-income and highly aid-dependent ones. The international system has been characterized as a “non-system” (Reisen, 2009) as a result of the high number of international institutions providing multilateral aid.
The fragmentation phenomenon was recently explored in-depth in an edited volume (“The fragmentation of aid: Concepts, Measurements and Implications for Development Cooperation, Palgrave, 2016, link), which serves as an important point of reference for the panel.

Unintended consequences of aid frequently result in higher transaction costs for those on both sides of the aid relationship. Efficiency losses and imbalances in aid allocations leading to under-funding (“aid orphans”) or crowding of donor agencies in certain sectors and countries (“donor darlings”) are further impacts of an aid landscape characterized by fragmentation and proliferation. On the other hand, there might also be a higher potential for mutual learning, innovation and competitive selection among the different providers of development cooperation. Fragmentation often goes hand in hand with donors’ needs for visibility, coupled with an endeavor to retain full control over aid-allocations, which further perpetuates fragmentation. Managing such opportunities and risks is a particular challenge at the country-level.
The necessity to address fragmentation in the area of development cooperation was a central rationale for the creation of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and more recently played an important role in the “aid effectiveness” debate which culminated in the establishment of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in 2011.

The long history of the fragmentation challenge is a sign that the international development community and in particular donor agencies continue to struggle with the implications of the phenomenon. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its focus on an integrated approach to development that reconciles the economic, social and ecologic aspects of development further exacerbates existing challenges in particular when it comes to policy coherence.
Against this background, the purpose of this panel is to explore the implications of fragmentation of for the providers of development cooperation (i.e. “donors”). The guiding question for the panel is: “What are the implications for the policy and practice of various providers of development cooperation of the fragmentation/proliferation phenomenon?”It is postulated that implications, in principle, exist for public, private and societal actors in development cooperation, although they might take different shapes and levels.

The panel aims to bring together a diverse group of presenters and participants from the academic and policy communities to explore the issue of the policy-implications of fragmentation of development cooperation from a variety of perspectives, on the basis of theoretical/conceptual as well as empirical papers and case studies. A call for papers will be issued to solicit additional contributions and participation of scholars and practitioners in the panel.


Paper 1
Dr Murad ALi, Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral research fellow from Pakistan; currently at the German Development Institute

“Post-disaster aid fragmentation and its implications: The case of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan”

Paper 2
Dr Hannes Oehler, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

” A Micro-Level Analysis of the Effects of Aid Fragmentation and Aid Alignment”

Paper 3 
Dr Sven Grimm, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

“South-South cooperation and fragmentation – a non-issue” 

Dr Emma Mawdsley, University of Cambridge

Organiser and Chair
Dr. Stephan Klingebiel, German Development Institute