Promoting ownership in a 'post aid‐effectiveness' world: evidence from Rwanda and Liberia

Keijzer, Niels / Stephan Klingebiel / Fabian Scholtes
External Publications (2019)

in: Development Policy Review 38 (S1), 032-049

Open access


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 cooperation.


This article analyses how approaches to managing development cooperation 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 cooperation 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.


Recent years have shown considerable drift in Liberia's approach to development cooperation management, while Rwanda retained its established system to manage its external partnerships and incentivise 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 cooperation over the 'how'.

Policy implications

In view of the importance of ownership for the sustainability of development cooperation, policy‐makers should consider re‐invigorating and re‐positioning a self‐standing development effectiveness agenda. Such an international initiative should adjust to new cooperation trends, notably the increased practice of predetermining cooperation themes and the promotion of multi‐stakeholder approaches.

About the authors

Keijzer, Niels

Social Science


Klingebiel, Stephan

Political Science


Further experts

Baydag, Melis

Political Science 

Bergmann, Julian

Political Science 

Dang, Vy

Political Science 

Erforth, Benedikt

Political Science 

Friesen, Ina

Political Science 

Furness, Mark

Political Science 

Grimm, Sven

Political Science 

Hackenesch, Christine

Political Science 

Koch, Svea

Social Science 

Löpelt, Sarah

International relations and Sustainability policy 

von Haaren, Paula

Development Economics