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Pacific Step Up needs Pacific voices

Is development assistance for poor developing countries about altruism, or is it all about economic and strategic self-interest for the Pacific’s biggest donor, Australia?

How can aid truly reduce poverty, increase literacy and numeracy levels, gain gender parity where there is none, or change the patriarchal make-up of our societies and reduce violence against women?

Will decreased donor dependence ever be possible in the Pacific, given the high reliance on aid? Despite the depth of aid, our region is performing poorly, at least by Australian measurements, giving donors the technical high ground and moral ‘voice’ in program input, design and evaluation.

Do Pacific governments have an interest beyond the electoral cycle to use development assistance to actually advance beyond their current stages of economic growth and uplift standards of living for Pacific people?

These were the questions I had as a first timer to the 2020 Australasian Aid Conference hosted by the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University. I came away enriched, however a little bewildered at how poorly the region understood and did development, and with more questions than answers.

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