More waste, corruption and lack of logic on the NGO scene in Ghana

Lately I’ve been in touch with various players in the fields
of Aid and development for Africa. Time and time again I am faced with overly
positive, self assured people who are confident that they are doing their part
to end poverty, or AIDs, or malaria, or even traffic injuries in children in
Africa. They dedicate their time and positive energy to a fault. They believe
in and trust the organizations that work in these countries to carry out the
good work for the right reasons, to a positive end.

They believe in the philosophies of aid and the mechanisms
to implement…. This is where they are very wrong.

If anyone really thought about it, they would realize that
aid organizations cannot possibly support the end of poverty or whatever other
societal ill they campaign about – the very achievement of their goal would put
them out of business. And make no mistake this is BIG BUSINESS.

Recently I had a chat with the country director of an
American agricultural NGO in Ghana (fully funded by USAID). The organization
has been operating for over 15 years here. The director has personally been
here in his capacity for almost 10 years. He likes the lifestyle, he married a
local. Are his projects successful? He laughs. “Well I have to support a
handful of hopeless project initiatives every year, so they can be extended,
and my job is secure for another couple years…”

Sigh.

This week, I had the opportunity in my professional life, to
come face to face with a typical mind boggling policy of the Aid world. Another
American organization, focusing on women’s issues such as health and human
rights, also funded by USAID, that we serve as Internet providers.  A year ago, we had installed a $15,000
satellite dish and uplink for one of their projects. This week I got a call
from their IT Manager asking for a quote for another complete system, as they
were closing the one project office and starting a new one in another location.

“But we can easily decommission and transport the dish to
the new site, and resume your service there”. I explained, expecting a grateful
OK from him.

“No, we can’t do that.” He explained to my amazement. “You
see, that project is finished. It had a budget and a register of assets. Now
that the project is complete, all assets are written off. It’s standard. So, we
need to purchase a new set for the new project. It has a new budget allocated
for communications.”

“But surely you can sell over the equipment from one project
to the other! The equipment has a minimum 10 year lifespan and is only a year
old!” I explained, thinking of the ABSOLUTE WASTE in funder’s resources.

“Holli, please understand, that is not how we work. The
funders have allotted money for new equipment. That is what we do. Please let
me know if we can send through the purchase order so I can get back to my
superiors with feedback.”

And that was that.

So, another $15,000 for a new satellite dish and
electronics, while a virtually new set, will rot on thelot of  first office site down the road. No doubt
these policies apply to the new Land Cruisers for the projects as well as
office furniture, supplies etc etc etc… The other question relates to where the
used vehicles and furniture go? There is surely a bustling side industry going
on with all the local employees of the Aid orgs in possession of all these
valuable written off assets…

Do the American taxpayers know this is going on?! Does Bono
support this frivolous illogical waste??!!

Surely not. He doesn’t want to know about it. As long as he
gets that ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ of being PC, helping the world, caring for the
needy in Africa, he can sleep at night.

I am the negative one on the other hand, I must have lost my
sense of empathy.

Then why is it me awake at night churning this hypocrisy
over and over in my mind?

By the way – this woman’s rights NGO has no females in it’s
senior management team. Not one…

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