Point 1: I never like to miss an opportunity to point out that “Bloody Events In Darkest Africa” often look remarkably similar to “Great Moments In American History”.
Point 2: The arc of history is long, and it bends towards justice. But it usually marches through blood. A society deserves tribute when it does not.
Now, Mr. Sata: please, please, please do not be a thuggish megalomaniac.” —
I did? Well, it’s pretty exciting. That’s right - since 2006, Peace Dividend Trust has created over 118 000 jobs for Afghans in Afghanistan. These jobs were all long-term (6 months or longer),
We’ve created a report (Job Creation in Afghanistan: Putting Aid to Work) that I highly recommend you read to discover more about our approach and our results in Afghanistan.
If you’d like more information, feel free to drop a line in our ask or email our Economist Extraordinare Lucy Heady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re thrilled to bits with these results, and are committed to making this number grow and seeing more sustainable economic growth in Afghanistan. Amid the chaos, there are talented entrepreneurs and enterprises serving their communities and the world, and we’re proud to work alongside them.
3 cheers for Afghan jobs!
- President Sirleaf to a small boy: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
- Small boy: "I want to be Vice President of Liberia."
- President Sirleaf: "Vice President? Why not President?"
- Small boy: "Because being President is a woman's job."
- (via Amy)
- If true, this is both adorable and awesome.
After four months of collecting data, two months of analysis and a month of reviewing, perfecting, crossing things out and putting them back in again, Peace Dividend Trust today released a report entitled, Job Creation in Afghanistan: Putting Aid to Work. It sheds light on jobs created as a result of international spending and local procurement. The results are based on a survey undertaken with Kabul businesses that won international contracts from 2006 to 2011.
Based on the survey results, it is estimated that from 2006 until the end of March 2011, approximately 118,000 jobs were created or sustained through PDT’s Marketplace project. In the first three months of 2011, locally awarded contracts from international organizations led to the creation of the equivalent of 35,000 jobs lasting for six months.
Among the reports other findings:
- During contracts, businesses expanded their employee base on average by over 300%.
- For the typical contract, one month of employment was created or sustained for every $600 spent.
- The majority of businesses invested profits in both physical capital (purchase of equipment, etc.) and increasing the skills of their staff.
Through this report and the data collected from it, PDT has created a platform to understand better the kinds of jobs created, the conditions in which they were created, and the ensuing results of their creation. They are results that fill an important gap in information both about Afghanistan’s marketplace and the impact of the international community’s spending. This information provides the tools to develop a roadmap for building and, more significantly, scaling up Afghanistan’s economy.
Scaling up Afghanistan’s economy will take effort. The gains made so far are fragile. The findings in this report show that many of the jobs created through local procurement are often transient. In order to ensure that Afghans continue to create jobs and expand businesses greater investments in sourcing goods and services from Afghan entrepreneurs must be made.
Thanks to all of the team in Afghanistan who have worked so hard over the years to facilitate the contracts that created these jobs. Your continued work to connect Afghan businesses with both domestic and international opportunities is a crucial contribution to stability and growth.
We don’t call it this, but there is a “PDT Doctrine”, a general world view among PDT staff that informs what we do and how we do it. Regular readers of this blog or those with whom we work can sketch the rough outlines without much trouble. We believe job creation comes from private entrepreneurs, not government planners. We think market forces (and not a log-frame) determine if something will be sustainable. Like some bloggers we admire, we believe “good intentions are not enough.” And we believe you shouldn’t send your yoga mat to Haiti.
One of the most elemental parts of our doctrine is that aid is an industry. Functionally, there is very little that differentiates it from any other industry, such as plastic surgery or shoes. There is demand and supply, competing organizations, and the profit motive is a key driver (be it explicit, or implicit).
Aid industry is actualling eerily like the plastic surgery industry.
Because we see it as an industry, I (switching to the first person here – as I dive deeper I don’t want to speak for my colleagues) strongly believe that greater impact, innovation, and efficiencies will only come from greater competition. For example, imagine how heavy your laptop would be if IBM was still the only manufacturer on the market. IBM isn’t, which is why we have things like the MacBook Air.
The magic of free market competition
So, when aid types whine about new NGOs “crowding the field” and spreading scarce resources too thin, I saybalderdash. If your NGO isn’t getting funded because another NGO is, then you need to make your NGO faster, smarter, leaner, and more effective. And, even if there is a short reduction in the overall effectiveness of the NGO sector in a particular country because there are too many, it is offset by the long-term improvement that competition and innovation will bring.
But that’s for the aid industry. Not for humanitarian relief.
It is called humanitarian relief for a reason. Short-term relief, to save the starving for example, is a public service not an industry. The immediate threat to life outweighs the long-term need for competitive innovation. Let me illustrate with an example:
Imagine there is a famine in Eritrea, and 1 million people are starving. Three relief agencies are on the ground, but collectively, they only have enough money to feed 700,000 people. You have $100,000, which you can spend in 2 ways:
- Send it immediately to one of those 3 agencies on the ground, and save 100 people. Or,
- Start your own NGO, which will be on the ground in 6 months, and with a more innovative model but proportionally more administrative costs, save 90 people, which may or may not lead to an incremental improvement in the entire industry. (And in the meantime, the other 100 died.)
I see this as a variant on the philosophical “trolley problem”, and my own view would be save the 100 now, competition be damned.
I’ve made (belaboured?) this point because too often in the debate about development reform and aid effectiveness we get sloppy and lump humanitarian relief into the mix. We shouldn’t. It’s not an industry and shouldn’t be seen as such.
Despite a pledge made 10 years ago to end ‘tied aid’, recipients of aid are still being forced to buy goods and services from donor country firms, a report reveals
Information on who benefits from aid-funded contracts has been notoriously hard to come by, as donors are reluctant to disclose details on their deals. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Aid from the world’s richest donors continues to benefit companies from their own countries, despite decade-old commitments to “untie” aid and hand over control to developing country governments, according to anew report.
Researchers estimate that $69bn – more than half of the total official development assistance – is spent each year buying goods and services for development projects. But much of this money is “boomerang aid” – funds that flow to developing countries only on the books and may never leave the donor countries.
Ten years ago, aid donors pledged to put an end to the “tied aid” scandals that obligated aid recipients to buy from donor country companies. The UK formally untied all development assistance in 2001, with the justification that “tied aid reduces value for money” and tends to lead to inappropriate and expensive projects that do little to tackle the needs of the poorest.
But Tuesday’s report from the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), a network of 54 NGOs from 19 European countries, says many countries have reneged on their promises and at least 20% of all bilateral aid remains formally tied.
In 2009, 67% of aid from Greece was given on the condition that Greek contractors were used on development projects. In the same year 54% of Austrian aid was tied, along with 50% of Korean aid and 39% of Portuguese aid.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of formally untied aid contracts still go to firms from rich donor countries, says the report, as developing countries are squeezed out of the equation by powerful transnational companies and complex procurement systems.
“Donor countries continue to mislead their own citizens and those of developing countries, by passing off what is essentially state aid to donor country firms, as a genuine contribution to poor countries’ effective development,” says the report, which builds on six key case studies from Namibia, Ghana, Uganda, Bangladesh, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
The reliance on companies from rich donors deals a double blow to developing countries, says the report, racheting up the cost of development projects while failing to deliver sustainable social and economic benefits. In contrast, “buying local” would offer a “double dividend”, says Bodo Ellmers, lead author of the report, funding development projects that also create jobs, stimulate industries, and provide income opportunities for local communities and firms.
Companies from developing countries are less likely to have the ability to monitor tenders from dozens of donors, each with a different set of criteria to meet and paperwork to fill out, and struggle to gain an edge while larger companies strategically open up offices in key hubs for the global aid industry – such as Washington and Brussels.
Big development banks – including the World Bank – systematically opt for international competitive bidding, notes the report, increasing the chances that large firms from donor countries will win contracts. Half the contract value of World Bank-funded projects in the last decade went to companies from donor countries. In 2008, 67% of World Bank-financed contract amounts went to firms from just 10 countries.
In Uganda, for example, only 18% of the contract value of World Bank-funded projects went to local firms. For contracts valued at over $1m, that share dropped to 11%. Firms from China and the UK won the bulk of large World Bank-funded contracts in Uganda, 32% and 19% respectively.
“This is striking,” says Ellmers. “The World Bank gives out loans, so recipient countries have to pay this money back. Where are they supposed to get that money?”
Eurodad’s researchers also found no relationship between the cases where donors chose to buy locally and the quality of countries’ public financial systems. Donors often argue that they cannot “buy locally” because of inefficiency, corruption, and important financial risks posed by doing business in developing countries.
Information on who benefits from aid-funded contracts has been notoriously hard to come by, as donors are reluctant to disclose details on their deals. While a donor might provide figures on how much aid it is spending on development projects around the world, it is much harder to determine how much of that money actually enters the economies of the developing countries concerned.
Eurodad’s report comes as donors face increasing pressure to demonstrate the impact of their aid programmes. As countries prepare to make their way to Busan in South Korea in November for this year’s international summit on aid effectiveness, Eurodad hopes the report’s findings will help shape the summit’s agenda and influence key decision-makers.
Many countries are expected to miss the internationally agreed millennium development goals, despite increasing amounts of aid over the last decade. Though international aid flows remain significantly short of UN targets, official development assistance has increased from $54bn in 2000 to $129bn in 2010.
Eurodad insists real “value for money” will only be achieved if donors engage with companies in developing countries, using aid as a catalyst for local and regional business development and job creation. “Extraordinary efforts are needed to make the most out of every single cent.”
Why we do what we do. Development needs local procurement.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International President, Unni Karunakara, calls on aid agencies to stop presenting a misleading picture of the famine in Somalia and admit that helping the worst-affected people is almost impossible.
Forbes has complied 20 youngest power women in Africa all under age 45, who wield enormous influence in African business, technology, policy and media all across the board from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania e.t.c. They are change makers, trendsetters, visionaries and thinkers, builders, and young global leaders. They are at the vanguard of Africa’s imminent socio-economic revolution and its contemporary renaissance. Read more
Great to see Ory Okolloh here! And so many others as well - what phenomenal leaders.
Afghan women have been renowned for centuries for deft needlework. Now the women of DOSTI, meaning “friendship” in Dari, have harnessed that heritage to handcraft club-quality soccer balls.
Each ball is sturdily hand-stitched using 32 panels of highest quality synthetic leather producing soccer balls with superior bounce and shape. Bearing DOSTI’s signature Doves in Flight pattern in the colors of the Afghan flag, each ball purchased provides meaningful employment for Afghan women.
You can buy them for $55. online at the Global Goods Partners Fair Trade site.
I know $55 may seem like a lot to pay for a ball, but this is a part of a world whose people, especially who woman, are working so hard to rebuild and to bring life back to their country, so if you think you can hold off buying that new jersey for another month or so, this would be a great thing to put that money towards. Or at least reblog this to spread the word about this really worthwhile cause. And besides, these balls are gorgeous!
Caitlin Fitz Gerald, who goes by the Twitter handle @caidid, responding to the issue of women’s voice in the international relations community. Her blog post, at the Gunpowder and Lead blog, titled “‘On Women and the Commentariat”: We’re here, we’re commenting, but are you listening?”, really captures the gender problem of the international affairs and security community well. (via thepoliticalnotebook)
Her entire response was so badass. THIS, EXACTLY.
A fantastic rebuttal post from @caidid.
Aid marketing I’d love to see in real life. I’d love to see it, and I’d love for it to be true:
“Your $20 won’t end hunger. Heck, you know what? You could give even a million dollars and it wouldn’t end hunger. You know why? Because the causes of hunger are systemic and structural, not financial. There is enough food in the world right now for everyone, but unfortunately most of it is owned by people who won’t share with the rest. Will they ever share? No one knows. But your $20 helps us continue to try to take care of those with too little. Until those with too much decide to share (if they ever do).”
“You don’t have to like talking about condoms. They’re not really our favorite
topic either. But talking about condoms is a whole hell of a lot better than talking about a lot of dead people who died of HIV/AIDS. It’s been proven time and again that the most effective means of preventing HIV transmission is consistent, correct condom use. Nope – promoting abstinence doesn’t work. We’ve tried it. It doesn’t work (seriously, did it work in your high school? No? Didn’t think so. Don’t know why you’d think it would work anywhere else). No, you don’t have to like talking about condoms, but you’d better understand that condoms save lives. Simple as that. What more reason do you need to get behind this program?”
“We seriously f**ked up. More than once, actually. All the time, actually. Disaster response is impossible to get 100% right 100% of the time. You know how it is from watching TV: it’s a disaster. We go in, the power doesn’t work, we can’t communicate, it’s chaotic, logistics are impossible… Sometimes it’s dangerous. Sometimes our own people get sick. There’s never enough of the right information for making good decisions. Sometimes we get it wrong. So why should you keep supporting us? Because no matter how bad the situation is, wewill still go there and help as many people as we possibly can. And we will always be straight with you about how we’ve messed up. And we will learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them next time.”
“Your donation may go towards helping terrorists. That is a reality that we live with out in the field every single day. How? Maybe they’ll steal it from us. Maybe they’ll steal it from ‘our beneficiaries’. Maybe the host government will confiscate it from us and then give it to them. Or maybe we’ll just give it to them because they might just be legitimate beneficiaries, too. Just because someone thinks they hate you doesn’t mean you can help them if you’re able and they need it.”
“No, you won’t get your name on a plaque in the entrance to the clinic. You won’t get a picture of ‘your’ cow or goat or duck or whatever. You won’t get a heart-warming letter from a kid in an impoverished third-world village. Your name won’t be called at a fancy gala. We won’t have a special fundraising rep assigned just to you, who has you on speed-dial and who will scramble to find answers to your random, off-the-wall questions. Sorry. That’s not what we’re about.”
“Three years from now this place is still gonna suck. It sucked before the disaster, and it’s gonna suck even more for a very long time after. Honest-to-god, if we could change that reality we would. But we can’t. It takes a long time to recover from a big disaster. And during that long time that it takes to recover, people are going to need shelter, water, sanitation, health care, food. Yep, we know: it looks really bad. It looks like nothing’s changed in the six months since the disaster. And while we can’t exactly measure the number of people who didn’t die of dysentery or cholera or the number of people who didn’t starve to death or become malnourished, we can tell you that things would be a lot worse had we not been here doing our job with your generous support. Thank you for that. And just so that you know, three years from now it’ll still suck, and we’ll still be here.
“Only about half of your donation goes ‘directly to beneficiaries.’ Maybe even less than that if you only count our cash transfer programs. Why so little? Well, first, just so you know, 50% is a pretty average actual overhead rate. And second, we’d love to give more, but we can’t. Did you donate online? It costs us money to maintain a website and the bank charges us for electronic transactions. Did you send a check? Yep, costs us money to receive those, too. You say you chose us because we provided the best information about our programs? You would not believe how much work it is to put those reports together (we had to pay someone to do it!). Costs a lot to publish them, too. Love those photographs? They cost extra. You say you like us because we work in the most difficult places? Hard to find people to work there (even the locals are dying to leave), and you know the saying, ‘Pay peanuts, get monkeys…’ Or you like us because we ‘build local capacity’? Our own local staff need salaries, too.”
“There’s no happy ending here. If we told you otherwise we’d be lying. These people were suffering before we came, and they’ll be suffering long after we’re gone. The causes of their suffering – the real, big picture causes – are beyond most anyone’s control. Certainly beyond our control. All we can do, really, is bring a little humanity into a situation that should never have existed in the first place. We can make things a little better, a little more bearable for a few of them for a short period. Is it enough? No. The need is far beyond what we can address. Will our help last? No. By next week or next month we’ll be back to square one. Or maybe they’ll all de dead by then. We sure hope not. But either way, our relief effort is still worth doing because they are our fellow humans and they’re suffering and we have the ability to do something about it. Even if it’s only a little.”