According to devex.com, It’s been an eventful end to the summer in French development, as President Emmanuel Macron begins to push his vision for aid.
Addressing ambassadors in Paris at the end of last month, Macron called for a new law to encapsulate his development agenda, saying he wanted to foster “solidarity investment” [“investissement solidaire”], including more partnerships with civil society, youth, business, and diasporas, and more money for ambassadors to support local initiatives.
Those points were among the recommendations in a government-commissioned report delivered the previous week by Hervé Berville, a member of parliament from Macron’s La République En Marche party.
Then, last Monday, the French aid agency, Agence Française de Développement, issued its strategic plan for 2018-2022, as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced France would quadruple its grant assistance to €1.3 billion ($1.51 million) in 2019 to better reach 19 priority countries in Africa.
However, it remained to be seen how well AFD’s focus on partnerships extended to civil society. “In France, the amount of aid that goes through civil society is very weak, and the NGO dimension of our cooperation is very weak. We have a tendency to invest in a public agency and to concentrate all the efforts there.”
Foreign Minister Le Drian said that bilateral aid would also be increased in proportion to that sent through multilateral channels.
Bilateral aid had fallen in recent years, he said, but was “essential for projecting our geographic and sectoral priorities internationally.” Thematically, Le Drian said the priorities for the extra allocation of €1 billion would include €500 million for education, youth, gender equality, health, and nutrition.
Climate and biodiversity, and operations in crisis and fragile situations, would each receive around €200 million, with the rest going to decentralized cooperation and governance.