The quality of aid must improve if poverty reduction objectives are to be met. There are two main challenges: first, changing donor practices to increase aid effectiveness (e.g. aid untying, harmonisation), and second, donors recognising that aid will only be successful if it is truly ‘owned’ by recipient countries. Mutual accountability goes to the heart of these two challenges. In the current aid system, recipients are highly accountable to donors, but donors are seldom accountable to recipients. Making donors more accountable to recipients could encourage them to improve their aid practices, and more leadership by recipients in the aid relationship itself could promote better country ownership.