Have Your Say On How AusAID Works

By Paul Oates

An Independent Review of AusAID is currently underway. Details of this review are at http://www.aidreview.gov.au/index.html Submissions can be made in writing or via e mail.

Submissions to the Review must be received before 2nd of February 2011 and the Review’s Report will be available in April 2011.

The following are a synopsis of some recommendations that have been made in a submission to the Review Committee on AusAID.

Recommendations

• AusAID has not been getting down to an operational level that is actually helping the average PNG person.

• Before any aid future program is commenced, publically reported benchmarks for evaluating program achievement must be established.

• AusAID programs must detail what ongoing skills transfer has been achieved by each program and how this has been assessed.

• Existing expertise is to be canvassed and utilised in program design and operational implementation.

• Determining and involving the actual stakeholders at the lowest level in the implementation of any future program.

• Involve Lower Level Government (LLG) in the implementation and monitoring of service provision. This will provide a direct link between aid recipients and those who are responsible for proving the funding.

• Non government organisations (NGO’s) should be directly included in service delivery projects.

• Local stakeholders are to be established and incorporated into any aid program implementation phase to ensure ongoing ownership and value adding.

• Bypass corruption at all levels above those who need the services.

• Closely monitor and audit all programs in Australia with at least two or more independent reporting structures and established Risk Management procedures. Digital photographs and the internet can be used to evaluate many programs. There is no need for large numbers of overseas staff and consultants to be located on site.

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Update 23/01/11:

More information and discussion on the effectiveness of AusAID can be found at the Development Policy blog:

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17 thoughts on “Have Your Say On How AusAID Works

  1. I am interested in the 7th recommendation you have on your list here – inclusion of NGOs and community-based organizations. I think there is a need to have a database on all NGOs operating in Papua New Guinea – their profile, names, missions, locations, personnel, capacities/specialities and so forth to help with the potential engagements with not only AusAID, but foreign development partners. I hope the Department of Community Development has such information available if NGOs can be easily identified.

    1. Good point cannibalbydescent, I was thinking the same thing the other day. Overall it would help interaction with the Government so that together they can actually make their efforts effective but also be able to record progress and say whether a startegy is working or not. Also to avoid overlapping with the NGO’s efforts and in some cases to ensure that NGO’s are also running properly and ethically etc.

  2. An umbrella body to bring NGOs together and jointly represent their interests with government, funding agencies and in the public domain together with an internet portal to make the information public and improve transparency would be a good start. Most importantly the NGOs must be allowed to maintain their independence while growing their profiles, activities and availability to the people.

    1. Hi stret pasin,

      Thank you for your suggestion about an internet portal with easily accessed information about the funded projects. I’ll incorporate it into the final submission. The essence of what we are proposing it that the LLG’s, NGO’s and the local people at the kunai roots level get involved with the managing and implementation of projects they themselves will benefit from.

      Any umbrella NGO organisation would have to be very carefully set up, funded and managed. This could be a drawback if it becomes involved in the approval process and leads to a ‘choke point’ or regulator and subject to the very problems we are trying to circumvent.

      Any organisation that would work with LLG’s must have the capacity to manage the work. It is envisaged that NGO’s together with LLG’s would apply for approved funding and when available, advertise locally for tenders. The NGO and the LLG would then be held accountable for partial payments at the completion of each stage, if it is a large project. Funds would only be released when the work was completed and signed off jointly by the NGO and the LLG.

      Smaller projects could logically be awarded to and completed by the local stakeholders themselves and then funded for through the LLG’s. This creates ownership and also injects funds for work undertaken into the local economy. Examples of this concept are the maintenance program on a school building or a rural health centre. The NGO could order the materials locally and the local people could, with the help of an NGO, tender to undertake the maintenance work for the building.

      Until the scheme is accepted on a trial basis, we won’t know where all the ‘binatangs’ are.

  3. Does AusAid in Pom have a section where complaints are handled? Just curious because during the Christmas period when I went home I was not impressed with the upgrade on bridges AusAid had sponsored. When the locals spoke to the contracted company they were not bothered to fix the current problem that emerged when they constructed the new bridge. The expatriate who manages construction of bridges spoke with such arrogance that the problem would fix itself over time. I ‘am flabbergasted at the cheap job that was constructed especially when my tax is paying for it. AusAid needs to have set guidelines so that contracted companies that win tenders do a quality job that will last years.

  4. Paul, good points. Also those are definitely some worthy recommendations noted above and only hope that systems and mechanisms integrate these into the AusAid machinery in aid delivery especially in PNG context.
    FYI, successful trials undertaken in the agriculture sector on small farmers system is worthwhile as a model for the recomendations noted for NGO or ‘actual stakeholders at project level’. DAL identifies local competent person(s) and as individuals or grouped (associations) sub-contracted in the projects as service providers (trainers, different scope of works, etc). Definitely gives the ownership and enables capacity building in the locality. Hopefully, such model can be enhance to higher level/scale of projects and can eventually have a respect for PNGians for be project managers for the AusAid projects in PNG.

    1. HI Mokowe, can you give us some more details on the trails done with DAL?

      This sounds interesting…as in who sponsored it, what locations and socio-econimic levels was it conducted in, what were the outcomes and will it be expanded?

  5. Emmanuel,
    Department I’m aware and have read undertaking this model (Smallholders Support Services Project) is Department of Agriculture & Livestock (DAL).
    The initial trial projects were funded by NZAid. Trialed provinces were Morobe and Eastern Highlands. As DAL programs, services were in agriculture and livestock and primarily targeting the disadvantageous rural population.
    The gist of my suggestion for such concept is in reflection of the deprived majority rural population of PNG and the dilemma as I see it of donor agencies’ policy to deliver aid and service to these mass. This is particularly important in the aim (as is the higher objectives of the donor funds and the govt too) to alleviate poverty, develop and establish sustainable income generation for the rural population.
    I was trying to described and highlight as one working model that has been trialed by the DAL and shown to have high level impact (from the reports I have read) and I ponder on this concept in respect to donor funds (and also PNG national government) rural development programs.
    Outcomes I have read as noted in published newsletters indicated that this model caused;
    (i) Impact and Sustainability-was sustainable compared to the usual DAL extension service. I believe the crucial factor was the short term contractual arrangement with the service providers. The contractual arrangements ensured the minimum required outputs were delivered/achieved before local person(s)/association were paid, compared to been on public service payroll (district service and LLG).
    (ii) Ownership of project [Recommednation #8]-Service provider candidates identified and contracted (often after a refresher training. Also to identify competency level) were grade 10-12 school leavers, retired able service persons (teachers, DPI officers etc) and church and church women groups from within the locality) The sense of ownership is prominently seen by local beneficiaries in fellow villager(s), persons from the area delivering the service. These capacities are adding to the support capacity of the Government’s District Service Improvement program. These individuals are involved in the monitoring and assessment of the whole project because they very aware of the previous benchmark and what they had to deliver to improve against benchmark (Recommendation #2). Better they are very much on the ground and very knowledgeable to the impacts of the project outputs[Recommendation #5].. Yes use District service and LLGs to monitor project good but practicable if identified local service providers undertake this task via the district/LLG (note the ability for timeliness). The pilot SSSP was noting the prevalent lack of drive/initiative in the lower level structure of government machinery.

    (iii) Committee Appointing service providers-Not informed on the composition but would think the District office, LLG and reputable (ex technical/service persons) and church reps from local community involved.

    (iv) Database-[Recommendation # 4]. a registry of service providers were kept and where there is assessed to be no capacity in one area, someone from the neighbouring area was sought. A few identified and become multi-trained to deliver in other sectors (ie health survey etc)
    It would not be immediate, that AusAid will canvass PNG expertise and be used. The above simplified version can be modelled on and improved in regards to the multi-million kina projects ie in civil works/constructions. How often have we argued about Australia contractors used in projects. My suggestion for a constructive way forward is, AusAid’s institute a condition precedent in contracts to an Aussie contractor to must use a national counterpart. Definitely will enable PNG national counter part to acquire the minimum required knowledge and exposure to AusAid projects management and delivery. Over time, the PNG counterparts will develop the capacity (to satisfactory level by AusAid) to bid and be able to manage and deliver AusAid funded projects. And realising Recommendation #4.
    But one aspect I am weary of too is the notion that one donor agency do not accept at ease and design a project around a working model/trial developed by another donor agency. They want to try something different. Maybe AusAid will think and act above this notion if it does exist.
    One other food for thought: Notion of Public Goods Creations needed to be considered in lax when aids/project has an objective for economic/business creation. Years of painful experience from PNG’s experience has shown business structure under association or cooperative or government owned (mostly at the medium scale level) often come to an end because of the issue of collective ownership of the investment capital good. The reality of ownership to ensuring sustainability of the capital asset (mainly maintenance, of wear and tear to ensure business generation) is private ownership structure. But still innovative arrangement of private/public partnership can be integrated to provide access and delivery of service to wider community’s benefit.
    Bro, hope I have not confused you further, it’s a Friday .Thanks for sharing my two toea thoughts.

    Mokowe

  6. Emmanuel,
    I would definitely hope that it is still running and is in the DAL’s work programs to expand to other provinces in the country. I believe National DAL or the two trial provinces DAL offices (Morobe and EHP) would know what the status of project is and how the database of local service providers is sustained and utilised (exported) to other sectors.

  7. Good post & blog here on the ‘Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness’ http://devpolicy.org/delivering-good-aid/

    A key message was:

    “AusAID does not have an overarching strategy on implementing the aid effectiveness agenda and has not clarified how to report against aid effectiveness principles. It needs a strategy for reporting that sets out benchmarks and targets for country and regional programs in terms of aid effectiveness principles.”

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