Promoting ownership in a “post-aid effectiveness” world: Evidence from Rwanda and Liberia

Niels Keijzer, Stephan Klingebiel, Fabian Scholtes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Motivation: After generating considerable momentum in the period 2005–2011, policy debates on the aid effectiveness agenda—including the core principle of ownership—witnessed a sharp decline. Current trends raise questions about the continuing relevance of ownership as a fundamental principle for development co-operation. Purpose: This article analyses how approaches to managing development co-operation have evolved in Rwanda and Liberia, two aid-dependent post-conflict states that were previously at the forefront of the aid effectiveness agenda. It presents new evidence on how ownership features and is promoted in development co-operation relations. Approach and Methods: The article draws on 48 semi-structured interviews, complemented by a review of academic literature, policy documents and grey sources concerning the two countries and the broader subject matter. Findings: Recent years have shown considerable drift in Liberia’s approach to development co-operation management, while Rwanda retained its established system to manage its external partnerships and incentivize donor behaviour. Both cases illustrate challenges in promoting ownership among all relevant stakeholders, with a key shift being that donors increasingly favour the “what” of co-operation over the “how.”. Policy implications: In view of the importance of ownership for the sustainability of development co-operation, policy-makers should consider reinvigorating and repositioning a self-standing development effectiveness agenda. Such an international initiative should adjust to new co-operation trends, notably the increased practice of predetermining co-operation themes and the promotion of multi-stakeholder approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)O32-O49
JournalDevelopment Policy Review
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2020. Development Policy Review © 2020 Overseas Development Institute


  • Liberia
  • Rwanda
  • aid effectiveness
  • development co-operation
  • foreign aid
  • ownership
  • post-conflict states


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