A European Union-hosted donors’ conference for Kosovo hopes to collect up to 1.5 billion euros on Friday to start turning from an aid-dependent protectorate to a viable economy. USA is throwing in some 400 m$ and Germany with 100-200 m€ are probably the biggest donors at country level so it is fair that their taxpayers know a little bit where the money goes as well people in Kosovo have right to know what to expect.
Here some remarks based to my own experiences in Kosovo:
Long travel from conference to field
- Donors´conference ends to statement or promise to give some estimated sum of money to Kosovo. If this promise will be kept or not we shall see, anyway in many similar conferences the implemented figures have been more or less short f original ones.
- When some sum of donor money actually will be paid from donor so in most cases the donating country takes some percentage for donors own administrative costs before sending rest to management authority.
- When management authority (receiving country, outside agency, consultant …) gets the charges deducted sum, they are taking off their administrative costs.
- Depending about programme or management practice there can also be some intermediate organizations or middlemen with their administrative costs.
- After this the rest part of donor money is near for the beneficiary and how much money goes all the way depends local administration practice, level of corruption, price fixing/cartel, previously agreed contracts and different needs by local interest groups.
Money goes, report arrives
There is big gap between original donors´ideas and real effects of their donation on the field. EU has gaved some 500-800 m€ during years 1999-2007 to Kosovo power plant. People in Kosovo still suffer power cuts etc. like before despite of army of different international management groups (first managers are already in jail, some should be), consultants, development projects, training activities, infrastructure investments and reports. The new power plant is probably the biggest investment in future with todays donor money.
Earlier some donors gave money to build school in some Kosovo village. School was ready, nice photograf for donors´media was taken, report confirmed that building was made ok, also tendering procedures were made with some standards, audit did not find anything special. So perfect project to satisfy donor? no one pointed attention to a small detail that there was no pupils for the brad new school. Similar examples are bridges, roads and swimming pools middle of no where, housing for returns (empty because people are not returning or going away immediately).
The lesson learned is that perfect report does not mean that something positive development has happened on the field. Reports are describing how money is spend. More effective is concentrate to challenge what to do with donations. Time is also one dimension – needs during donors´conference are not necessary the same than those when money actually arrives to destination.
My point of view is that money is only one of means – one part of resources. the more important parts are vision, objective, strategy, implementation, feed back and especially commitment of beneficiary groups and project management.
Some improvement can be made applying Logical Framework Approach through the process. LogFrame is used in most EU projects, but individual donors have their preferences. LogFrame describes obejctives, action lines, how individual projects are implementing the objective and how the success can be measured. There is also some flexibility according fed back during implementation. Special need at individual project and local level is also use there Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions. These two practice does not remove problems mentioned before but they can make the impact of donor money more desired at destination.
I doubt that Serbia was invited to Fridays donors´conference. However Serbia is one of the biggest donors in Kosovo distributing their aid mainly Serb populated areas. In this case there is a good possibility to integrate aid to national and local development programmes. In case of donors´conference the challenge is much more bigger because first the diversity of donors and secondly because of th huge chaos in Kosovo administration between numerous international organizations and local administration. The bottom line is anyway to know how to use resources what ever money is arriving on the field.