Friday, May 14, 2010

Why one Single HRI Project is Worth 1million Bad Ideas

While experts are busy dragging the corpse of 1millionshirts behind their technicals on the streets of twitterdishu under the watchful eyes of punters including this or the other glossy magazine, HRI has silently closed a few behind-the stage deals with donors and is comfortably on the way to “burn” upwards of 68 millions world-wide without having to put up with any significant scrutiny, except the occasional passive aggressiveness from competitors partners when we sit together in life-saving coordination meetings.

Many of these funds have been “sole-sourced” to us by donors who trust us to get the job done, while others were deservedly won in open competitions where the procurement criteria are designed to fit HRI like a glove, in ways that regular readers of this blaag, as well as veterans of the sector understand very well.

The lynching of impressionable teenagers with bad ideas about aid is to the world of aid criticism what the jailing and public shaming of a village headmaster who accepted a chicken from the parents of a pupil would be to the world of anti-corruption, in a country where the province governor drives around in a S600 merc, regularly flown to the big town for service in the belly of an Antonov AN-12 operated by a Logistics Cluster contractor.

Speaking about logistics clusters, yesterday I drove to a nearby compound in Moroni, to attend the regular Heads of Agency Country Team Meeting, scheduled every Thursday at 9am. Unfortunately I arrived just a bit late and the whole compound yard was already full with white landcruisers and hiluxes, some of them with imposing agency flags appended to their HF aerials, and my driver had to drop me quite a distance away from the entrance – a maneuvre I usually disapprove of as the short walk threatens to affect my dignified standing with the local populace.

It was my own fault for being late however, so I proceeded walking and entered my man-of-the-people-mode, giving dignified nods and grimacing grins to the group of drivers congregated around the tea-lady's improvised stall. Right here, I thought, is the hard evidence of our important impact – without us, the tea lady could not make the good business that she makes, probably feeding numerous children with the profits. A success story right there, as well as a charming little anecdote I can tell as cocktail chit-chat during the next life-saving function.

Inside, the senior aid/development community, were getting ready for the meeting with instant coffee and biscuits, chatting leisurely about malaria, famine, environment and condoms while they were waiting for the chairman of the meeting, always fashionably late (she has a reserved parking space outside so there is no incentive to be there in time). As i entered, I immediately sensed the usual mix of passive aggressiveness and need to flatter that comes with my respectable position and I made a mental note to try and sugarcoat my mentioning of the 9 million that HRI has been recently awarded for “peace consolidation” in the Comoros.

That will happen only during the AOB section however, so i have plenty time to "feel" the crowd. Meanwhile main items on the agenda include: coordination of office opening hours, a proposal to increase the security phase for Moroni, based on a worrying incident of pick-pocketing in the local market (it is not about the increased danger pay, it is only that as head of agencies we worry for the safety of our staff) and, finally, the piloting of a new matrix expected to increase coordination between agencies by combining logical frameworks with available budgets. On behalf of HRI, Nathan the intern has been committed to take the lead with this process and he will “follow up” with each agency focal point to finalize the matrix – the deadline is end of 2nd quarter 2011, a time when all respective info will be of great value to development history buffs.

And so, reader, another busy week has passed, in which we have done all we could to make the world a better, more peaceful place.

Today, being a day off i will spend smoking Hookah with the minister of planning and coordination, who has kindly offered to send his driver to pick me up in his private Lexus. He’s an important partner for HRI and, indeed the development community in Comoros and I will make sure we bond over exchanging anecdotes and having some laughs about bad aid ideas, a subject sure to keep a conversation going for hours, even here in the Comoros.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I love you.
    Schoolmaster-chicken analogy is fantastic - those a-holes at Aidwatch think they did something important.
    Brilliant twitterdishu. Why...I could just sit here and kiss your arse all day long.