It’s been a while but I’m back online ready to continue reporting from the frontlines of HRI state of the art development. It’s RFA season of course, which for those in the know is a time when loads of efforts are invested in creating the appearances of competition while making deals on the side and getting the money where it belongs – in HRIs and our affiliates’ account. Basically RFA is USAID procurement short-hand for a process in which political interests are combined with “priorities” that are irrelevant in a given country but sound pretty good in Washington DC and then a meeting with partners is called to give the whole thing an appearance of participation and ownership (to be fair we also love participation & ownership at HRI). Eventually, the official request for applications is issued and HRI or one of our affiliates will prove to be the best placed to bag the money. Spending it is pretty easy as we usually just hand it out to all the other organizations ("sub-recipients”) who have unsuccessfully applied for it with USAID, to do the same thing that they are doing anyway, plus of course we keep a certain amount for overhead, admin costs and so on.
It’s also global fund season of course and the situation here is a bit different. As Principal Recipients in quite a few countries, HRI and our affiliates find it pretty hard in principle to spend all the global fund money (round this, round the other, confusing stuff). What we do however, is we blame the slow spending on the country team & coordination and continue to apply for every new round prioritizing capacity building of course and “creating an enabling environment”.
You may remember last time I checked in I was in cape town doing important work around ownership and stuff. Well I had an epiphany in the flight back where I was taking refuge from the “it-used-to-be-better-back-in-the-day” chit-chat with my fellow passenger in first class by checking out the on-flight entertainment system, the only viable alternative in my experience to not having to have that conversation while flying in or out of South Africa. Anyways, this is how I got to watch Avatar, that movie that was all the rage a few months ago and that’s when I had the epiphany. The irony of a loud anti-colonial movie in which some American dude becomes the savior of noble savages somewhere on another planet has not gotten lost on me, but the most beautiful thing is how often the movie hit home for me in its similarities with HRI. The plot will sound familiar to any technical advisor with the right arrogance to ignorance ratio who, although doesn't know anything about the country or the people where he gets posted and has only a marginal knowledge of what he is supposed to be doing, becomes active in all sorts of meetings in which his proud local counter-parts translate for him. In his reports all stakeholders seem to be on the same page, working together towards a grand goal while the “big tree” is burning. You may think otherwise but to my knowledge HRI has not been consulted on the script.
Oh, and one more thing – HRI is on twitter as well. I thought since we’re cutting edge and all why not go 2.0 like everyone else? Still figuring the whole follow this follow that part but do expect regular
twat twitter wisdom from yours truly.