PFM Diagnostics and Reforms
Publication Corporate Author:
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Use of Country Systems-Roadmap for Somalia 2017
The need to use country systems (UCS) is an oft-cited international commitment for improved aid effectiveness (Paris Declaration in 2005, New Deal for Fragile States in 2011). But what does it really mean to use systems in practice? How strong do systems need to be before development partners are willing to use them? Why does UCS remain weak, despite international commitments?
In Somalia, the UCS working group (Box 1) has been grappling with these questions over the past three years. The group has identified several reasons why UCS remains low in Somalia:
1. “Chicken or Egg” dilemma: UCS is critical for building national capacity; yet the weakness of Somalia’s systems is often the reason why development partners are reticent to use them.
2. Shifting goalposts: UCS discussions are focused on Public Financial Management (PFM) performance, when development partners’ decisions about whether to use systems are often based on the quality of dialogue and a variety of different factors (e.g. human rights, elections, other political commitments). The lack of clear targets for government performance gives the impression that the goalposts set by the international community are shifting.
3. Lack of clarity about UCS: Some development partners want to use country systems, but are simply unsure of how to do so in the Somali context. There is also a common misconception that UCS refers only to on treasury aid. While it represents an important channel for delivery, use of the treasury is not the only dimension of UCS.