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Date: 2024-05-21 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00024241
FROM THE TPB ARCHIVE
ON THE PERFORMANCE OF DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE

Some blog dialog about the performance of development assistance circa 2007


Original article:
Peter Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The new aid giants

Dear Colleagues

The following message was the start of an interesting dialog on several list serves including afro-nets. In future messages it will become apparent the extent that Tr-Ac-Net does not share these conclusions.

Peter Burgess
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NAIROBI, 12 November (IRIN) - Can the entrepreneurial zeal, innovation and super-size budgets of private foundations succeed where a sclerotic and undisciplined international aid industry has failed? Or is the 'New Philanthropy' simply executive arrogance, vanity and naïveté - rushing in where even the 'aid experts' have failed?

Economist Jeffery Sachs believes the world's 2015 millennium development goal (MDG) targets could be met with a budget of US$150 billion a year. 'Our governments are not acting. People are dying,' he claims. Rather than looking to the G8, Sachs points to the Forbes Rich List as the best potential source of the cash. Just 5 percent, Sachs says, of the income of the world's 950 dollar billionaires would easily raise the funds.

Others demur. 'The problems we face in reducing poverty and disease and other issues are not about money,' warns Randolph Kent, director of the Humanitarian Futures Programme at King's College, University of London. 'Indeed, there is a strong danger that if more money is thrown at the problems we will see an increase of problems and not the solutions.'

The hyper-rich and their supporters do not see it that way. Bono, the Irishrock star and activist, has said: 'Our generation has a unique opportunity to make history. We have the money, we have the knowledge, we know the people who can help Africa. We can make it happen with people like Bill Gates.'

Goodwill

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $13.6 billion since 2000 on domestic and international projects. Its assets will top $60 billion when the contribution of investor Warren Buffett is included. In a style that has been called 'venture philanthropy', the Gates Foundation tackles some of the toughest global problems, especially in health, taking a hands-on, innovation-friendly approach.

In one of its latest initiatives, in October 2007 the [http://www.gatesfoundation.org/default.htm] foundation launched a $100 million, five-year programme providing small grants to 'nurture unorthodox approaches to global health'. Inaugurated in Cape Town, South Africa, the [http://www.gcgh.org/GrandChallenges/GCNewFeature/default.htm] Grand Challenges Explorations programme will target scientists in Africa and Asia, offering research grants of $100,000.

The foundation has massively boosted key aspects of medical research and intervention, especially in areas considered to be unprofitable by the medical and pharmaceutical private sector.

The power of partnerships

Besides the hyper-rich are brokers like Bono and former US President Bill Clinton.

Clinton's annual fundraising gatherings in New York draw 1,000 of the world's richest and most innovative people together for three days. This year's event, in September, included 52 former or current world leaders. Each invitation-only participant pays $15,000 to discuss problems that were previously the preserve of the aid sector.

The Clinton Global Initiative says it 'attempts to create a composition that matches people who have resources with those who have the most innovative ideas'. The CGI does not make grants but behaves like a matchmaker. About $10 billion worth of 'commitments' were made through the initiative, once described as a 'stock exchange for donations to worthy causes'.

Social entrepreneurs

On a less glittering scale, new types of relationships between the private and charitable sector are developing.

'Venture philanthropists', such as the UK's Impetus Trust [http://www.impetus.org.uk/] are bringing venture capital techniques to the voluntary sector by working with charities to improve their management and performance. The US-based Acumen Fund [http://www.acumenfund.org/About/] invests in pro-poor business but expects monetary success as well as promoting worthy products and causes through enterprise.

Uneasy critics

But Nobel Prize winner and micro-credit pioneer Muhammad Yunus is sceptical: 'If someone makes $100 profit and donates $5 to a good cause, and possibly only to save on taxes, that doesn't impress me very much.'

'I am more interested in what global philanthropy looks like, not just the individual giving of a few Anglo-American billionaires,' concurs Kent of London University.

'While it may be true that the aid sector hasn't yet successfully addressed some of the major global problems, there is no evidence the billionaires will be any more successful. I am not convinced that they have any greater advantage in terms of assessment or accountability than the traditional mechanisms available,' concluded Kent.

'It's all too early to judge but I would be surprised if you find that they come up with radical solutions to old problems.'

One billionaire at least feels no doubt about his impulse to act. 'If we don't solve the problem of climate change,' said American financier and philanthropist George Soros, 'we will go after each other . . . Before we cook ourselves to death, we will kill each other.'

British Virgin group entrepreneur Richard Branson epitomises the mood of the New Philanthropy: 'I refuse to believe that we can't do it.'

(c) IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis:

http://www.irinnews.org

Posted by Peter Burgess at 11:43 AM Wednesday, December 5, 2007
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The new aid giants (2)

Dear Colleagues

On November 15, I posted the following message ... it speaks for itself.

Peter Burgess
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Dear Colleagues

A little more than two years ago I heard Jeffrey Sachs speaking at the Forum on Africa at SIPA, Columbia University. Around the same time Tony Blair was talking about more money for Africa ... and Bono was popularizing more money for Africa.

Meanwhile, there is little or no questioning of why it is that the previous $3 trillion (an imprecise number) has done so little, and how it is that these funds were ineffective.

I have tried to challenge the aid establishment to figure out how to use the available money 10 times as effectively ... as a first step ... and then to ask for more money when it is clear that the money is being used effectively. But of course, this is not going to happen. The aid establishment is quite happy with the status quo, and would be a lot more happy if the fund flows into the situation were to expand significantly.

Bottom line ... the aid establishment is doing everything it can be get more money flowing into the sector ... and the issues of transparency and accountability ... and performance metrics are off the table.

Some of us do not like this ... and we are going to win.

Sincerely Peter Burgess. Posted by Peter Burgess at 11:59 AM Newer PostOlder Post
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 The new aid giants (3) On Nov 19, 2007 George Kent responded to my message 'Big money has the potential of being useful, but success is not likely if the resources are not accompanied by appropriate planning efforts. It is very difficult to find any serious planning at the global level for dealing with these big issues. Who will do the planning? To whom will the planners be accountable? Aloha, George' The following is my long winded reply which makes the point that planning needs to take into account what happens at the community level. The message included from Kris Dev gives an example of a local school planning something they wanted ... something that would probably not have been on the agenda if planned from any central agency. Dear Colleagues George Kent's message asked about who will do the planning and to whom will the planners be accountable. A very important question. Big money has the potential of being useful, but success is not likely if the resources are not accompanied by appropriate planning efforts. It is very difficult to find any serious planning at the global level for dealing with these big issues. Who will do the planning? To whom will the planners be accountable? My position is that global planning ... State planning (Gosplan) and the like do not work very well. Years ago (nearly 50) I studied the French approach to planning, and was impressed by how in the planning process, they framed the goals, and then left it up to society to do everything that was needed unless it was clearly counterproductive. This contrasted with the British socialist planning of the time that constrained rather than guided. I guess I have been in the planning business all my career ... corporate and development. The most effective plans were the ones I did not make. We used to refer to this as the NIH factor ... Not Invented Here. So while I was 'in charge of' planning, my best plans were always made by other people, other departments. I also learned that a good plan was far less important than a team of good implementers with good motives. Good implementers actually plan on the fly and improve even the best of plans. In fact, truth be told, most plans are a terrible sub-optimization of what is possible because there are few planners that know very much beyond planning methodologies. My value as a planner was that I could stop really bad things happening ... not that I could make great things happen. And the possibilities to do great things are everywhere, and one has to wonder why it is that we have planned our way into such a poor performing planet. In the relief and development sector, my friends have pushed me in the direction of community centric sustainable development were the human resources and the natural resources of a community are combined to do the best possible activities for the benefit of the community ... with the support of an external world, and without doing damage to the external world. The community is the natural locus for performance metrics about development progress ... and in the community there is easy accounting and clarity about accountability. This is not just talk about 'bottom up' but truly walking 'bottom up'. My expectation is that bottom up community centric sustainable development will easily outperform the top down UN/World Bank development model ten fold. The message below forwarded to me by Kris Dev from Chenai in Tamil Nadu, India is an example of CCSD in practice. My favorite UN funded project was in Shenge, Sierra Loene some years back where the expatriate project leaders had the community drive the project with amazing results. There is hope when development is done right and planning is used to get development going in the right direction ... planning that is not a control mechanism but a guide. Control comes from accounting and accountability ... and the community are the judges of what is delivering value. I hope this answers the questions raised by George. Sincerely Peter Burgess ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Kris Dev Date: Nov 19, 2007 7:49 AM Subject: Fwd: Community Awakening Tsunami strikes Amithanallur Village, Ellapuram Block, Tiruvallur District, TN To: LIST Amithanallur Village in Ellapuram Block of Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu is struck by a new Tsunami - the 'Community Awakening Tsunami'. The village is poised for a big change - It is waking up from its slumber. The sleepy community is now turning vibrant thanks to the initiatives of the community themselves led by their leader Mr. G. Karunanidhi, Panchayat President and the initiatives of Social Activists and NGOs. In the Grama Sabha meeting held on Gandhi Jayanthi day (October 2, 2007), it was resolved to set up a Community College christened as 'Amithanallur Community College (ACC)' by the community, of the community and for the community. A Self Help Group (SHG) was set up to administer the affairs of the College in a meeting held by the community on November 18, 2007 (a few photos attached). Mr. G. Kannan, Panchayat President of Amithanallur, a local resident of the village (son of a freedom fighter and Village Head of Amithanallur for fifteen years,after independence), is truly following his father's foot steps and the driving force behind the community college. He was proud to present us his development activities for the community and the women of the community were all praise for him. Panchayat Presidents of three other neighbouring villages viz. Thirunilai, Akkrampakkm and Madura vaasal are members of the SHG. They were supported right from the beginning by Mr. K. Rangaiyan, Retired Block Development Officer of Ellapuram Block, Mr. Pal Arasu, a Gandhian worker from Kanniya Kumari District with more than 40 years of dedicated community service and Mr. H. Ramalingam, President and Mr. Purushothaman, Secretary, and members of GCT78, (alumni of Govt. College of Technology, Coimbatore 1978 Batch), a not for profit NGO set up for Benchmarking Engineering Services in Social Sector. Mr. Kris Dev, ICT & e-Gov Consultant, Life Line to Community / Business offered to extend development support to the Community College, to set up Village Knowledge Centre. The community college will cater to all the people in the Ellapuram block of Thiruvallur District, consisting of 53 Village panchayats and Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA), the project anounced by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Honourable Prime Minister, in his speech on 15th August, 2003 on the concept promoted by Dr. Abdul Kalam, Honourable President of India, to bridge the rural-urban divide and achieving balanced socio-economic development. Anbarasi, K, a married woman with a child, who has passed the 12th standard, came forward, to become the first Principal of the College. She is determined to pursue her higher studies and obtain a doctorate degree and lead by example. Her husband. Sankar, D., who has studied up to 5th standard and working in a factory as a loader, is also determined to take up vocational course as part time student. One of the first few enrollments, was Aravind Nehru, a sixth standard student, who desires to become a Collector. Another was Ganapathy Govindarajan, a 11th standard student who wants to become a doctor, as the village has no doctor. The community volunteered to extend support to deserving students. The Community College passed the resolution to conduct various informal courses to empower the community members in their chosen field of specialization. Informal certificates named 'Kanavu Pura (Dream Bird)', 'Vellai Pura (Peace Bird)' and 'Seyal Pura (Action Bird)' would be given to deserving citizens in the next Gram Sabha on 26th Jan 2008. Amithanallur Community College, a transparent community initiative, through its Grama Sabha, would truly empower the marginalized rural poor and deserves support from all including central Government, State Government, National and International NGOs, NRI Community, Educationists and Educational institutions, corporates as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). For more details contact: 1. Mr. G. Karunanidhi, Panchayat President, Amithanallur Village, Ellapuram Block, Tiruvallur District, TN at 91 99 526 72829. 2. Mr. Purushothaman, Secretary, GCT78, ( www.gct78.org/) at 91 94 443 85195 / purushothaman_pillai@yahoo.com. 3. Kris Dev, ICT & e-Gov Consultant, Life Line to Community / Business ( http://ll2b.blogspot.com) at 91 98 408 52132 -- Peter Burgess The Transparency and Accountability Network: Tr-Ac-Net in New York http://www.tr-ac-net.org IMMC - The Integrated Malaria Management Consortium Inc. http://www.IMMConsortium.org Posted by Peter Burgess at 11:57 PM Newer PostOlder Post
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Thursday, December 6, 2007 The new aid giants (4) And George Kent replied Friends, I greatly appreciate Peter Burgess's reactions to my comments about the need for good planning, especially at the global level. I think we agree about fundamentals, but maybe not. Let's explore this further. Peter said that global planning and state planning do not work very well. I agree that most past experience confirms that. I would say that bad planning needs to be replaced with good planning. I think it is more useful to say it this way than to say that planning as such is bad. We should not say or suggest that there should be no planning. Peter said that in his experience: 'a good plan was far less important than a team of good implementers with good motives. Good implementers actually plan on the fly and improve even the best of plans. In fact, truth be told, most plans are a terrible sub-optimization of what is possible because there are few planners that know very much beyond planning methodologies.' There is always a need to plan some sort of framework in which 'good implementers' can do their work. For example, if we want to sharply reduce the incidence of malaria worldwide, there is a need to create a suitable context in which 'good implementers' can do their thing. Planning should not be equated with top-down directive planning. That is just one type of planning, often a bad type. Maybe we can find a different term to label the good approach. It cannot be described simply as no planning. Peter emphasizes what he calls 'community centric sustainable development.' I used to write about this in terms of community-based planning. However, I came to appreciate that it would be a mistake to simply replace overly centralized planning with overly localized planning. Instead we need what I now call multi-level, multi-party planning. Centralized and localized planning both have important things to contribute, both have important advantages, and both have important liabilities. We need to figure out how to draw on the best features of both. Part of the role of the central planning effort is to find ways to facilitate the best possible localized planning. One of the fundamental operating principles should be subsidiarity. This means that in general, issues should be handled locally to the extent feasible. However, there are some issues that absolutely require some sort of global planning efforts. Global warming is one example. Hunger in the world is another. This is the basis of a book I edited on Global Obligations for the Right to Food that is due out in early 2008. We need to acknowledge that while a child may be born into a poor country, that child is not born into a poor world. We all have some measure of responsibility for that child. We have not taken that responsibility seriously. In the Millennium Development Project, for example, we are not witnessing the failure of a strategy, but the complete absence of a serious strategy at the global level. I hope this absence is not what Peter is advocating. I support Peter's concluding paragraph: There is hope when development is done right and planning is used to get development going in the right direction ... planning that is not a control mechanism but a guide. Control comes from accounting and accountability ... and the community are the judges of what is delivering value. Community-centric development is good, but we should not exaggerate its potentials. Too often, those who advocate the decentralization of authority are really just finding ways to maintain inequities. Perhaps we can all work together to write out the principles of sound planning at every level? I don't think we should be--or appear to be-- advocates of not planning. Aloha, George Posted by Peter Burgess at 12:11 AM Newer PostOlder Post
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Thursday, December 6, 2007 The new aid giants (5) And someone else does not think the aid industry is doing a very good job Dear Peter, I agree, billions spent and nothing accomplished. People waste the money and people keep dying. When will it end? When something changes? LOL Cheers, Craig -- Craig Audiss Posted by Peter Burgess at 1:02 AM Newer PostOlder Post
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Thursday, December 6, 2007 The new aid giants (6) But not everyone was of the same view. People sometimes think that my talk about focus on using money the right way means that I am against fund flows for assistance. Far from it ... I just want to see fund flows doing some good rather than merely being used to support an industry that now has high overhead and not much to show for it. Molly Tumusiime, on Dec 4, 2007 sent the following message: 'Dear All, 'I agree with the foregone concerns about accountability and transparency, they are a good theoretical analogues that sometimes mask us from looking at real issues. Please don't take me wrong I love it if all factors are constant. Africa in particular has had a share of blame and counter blame over corruption and embezzlement of funds because the world does not see the continent look like the first world, but I always wonder if people try to weigh the magnitude of Africa's needs against the aid that is put in? Does the world ever sit to analyze and see how much ,even of that trillion my colleague is talking about below goes back to its owners in terms of technical assistance, posh cars, expensive hotels they sleep in while in Africa, boosting economies at hope by supporting the buying of things made in their countries, to the extent that when the technocrats go back home the cost of maintaining such things is a burden and subsequent waste. May I suggest that Peter Burgess takes time off to scan through the moralistic side of Africa's aid before he fights how Africa should not get aid. Let him conduct his research about the two questions he has raised (Meanwhile, there is little or no questioning of why it is that the previous $3 trillion (an imprecise number) has done so little, and how it is that these funds were ineffective.)I shall be interested to read his findings. 'Molly Tumusiime 'Uganda' Posted by Peter Burgess at 11:48 PM Newer PostOlder Post
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Thursday, December 6, 2007 The new aid giants (7) I thought Molly Tumusiime's message deserved a careful answer. This is my effort to answer the various points that she raised. MT indicates Molly Tumusiime's words ... PB is my response. 'Dear Colleagues Most of the time, the feedback I get from Africa is relatively positive, and my colleagues in North America, Europe, etc are a little uncomfortable. This time Molly Tumusiime (MT) from Uganda is challenging me, and I owe her a decent response. MT said: 'I agree with the foregone concerns about accountability and transparency, they a good theoretical analogues that sometimes mask us from looking at real issues. Please don't take me wrong I love it if all factors are constant.' PB response: OK ... no disagreement up to this point MT said: 'Africa in particular has had a share of blame and counter blame over corruption and embezzlement of funds because the world does not see the continent look like the first world, but I always wonder if people try to weigh the magnitude of Africa's needs against the aid that is put in? ' PB response: There are two important issues here. 1 .... corruption and embezzlement is a serious source of poor performance in the relief and development context in Africa, but I would make the case that there is too much of this behavior everywhere in the world. The 'buying' of favors in both the political world and in the business world is a global epidemic, and thought there is TALK about transparency and accountability to address the problem, the WALK is almost entirely missing EVERYWHERE. Accountability to the public is not something the establishment wants at all. 2 .... what exactly is Africa's need for aid? I have done my fair share of development planning in various parts of Africa and it is abundantly clear that there are huge resources in Africa, both natural and human ... and an absolutely ridiculous process of exploiting these resources so that Africa gets almost nothing from them. So then we find that ordinary Africans are poor, the governments are almost bankrupt and there is a huge need to get aid. The problem is that there is a very strong system in place that impoverishes ordinary Africans while others get wealthy. It is not a just arrangement ... and it needs work. MT said: 'Does the world ever sit to analyze and see how much ,even of that trillion my colleague is talking about below goes back to its owners in terms of technical assistance, posh cars, expensive hotels they sleep in while in Africa, boosting economies at hope by supporting the buying of things made in their countries, to the extent that when the technocrats go back home the cost of maintaining such things is a burden and subsequent waste.' PB's response: There have been a good number of books on this subject written over the past 20 years or so going back to Hansen's 'Lord's of Poverty' in the 1980s. I have been outspoken on this issue for as long as I can remember ... I wrote some very critical material as long ago as 1979 on relief and development performance ... about a lot of overhead and not much results. My consulting career with the World Bank and the UN ended abruptly when I started following the money and asking about real results as opposed to merely real disbursements and costs. PB more: I did some academic economics in the Keynesian model as a student, and I am disgusted at the World Bank and IMF thinking about how economics works in the African context. In my view, they have it about as wrong as they can. As I see it, Africa is a (real) market economy in the main, and NOT a monetary economy. MT said: 'May I suggest that Peter Burgess takes time off to scan through the moralistic side of Africa's aid before he fights how Africa should not get aid.' PB's response: I never suggested that Africa should not get more aid ... merely that it is more important for aid that is available and flowing to be used in Africa for work that benefits Africans and not to support the huge and growing overhead of the international relief and development system, and all the support organizations that are in a boom as donor disbursements expand. PB more: The performance metric I want to see is community progress ... real people getting real value ... with modest amounts of external aid. When you look at how many people need aid, the number is huge and the aggregate anount of assistance needed is very large indeed. But more money merely for aid overhead is not my idea of a sensible strategy. MT said: Let him conduct his research about the two questions he has raised (Meanwhile, there is little or no questioning of why it is that the previous $3 trillion (an imprecise number) has done so little, and how it is that these funds were ineffective.) PB response: I think MT and I are not too far apart on our analysis of the situation. If anything, I might be even more aggressive for change. It is to be expected that we will differ on the detail ... but I don't think we are far apart on the basics. MT said: I shall be interested to read his findings. PB response: I hope this is sufficiently responsive. Sincerely Peter Burgess ____________ Peter Burgess The Transparency and Accountability Network: Tr-Ac-Net in New York www.tr-ac-net.org IMMC - The Integrated Malaria Management Consortium Inc. www.IMMConsortium.org 917 432 1191 or 212 772 6918 peterbnyc@gmail.com Posted by Peter Burgess at 11:56 PM Labels: Corruption, Effectiveness, Performance Newer PostOlder Post
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