Palestine – Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks

April 9, 2010

No Results: 12 Billion Dollars Disappeared in Palestine”. This headline popped recently to my eyes. First I was thinking that it is Zionist propaganda or comment in some hard-line Israel newspaper. Then I saw that headline was based to a learned discourse of Dr. Ghania Malhis – chairwoman of the board of trustees at The Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) and former senior economist in the League of Arab States. MAS was founded in Jerusalem in 1994 as an independent non-profit institution to contribute to the policy-making process by conducting economic and social policy research. Presentation of Dr. Malhis was held in UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People on 25 March 2010 in Vienna.

The core conclusions of Dr. Ghania Malhis were that, despite the considerable economic help from various institutions of the international community and NGOs – about 20 billion US Dollars over the last 15 years

it has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground” and

the GDP of 2009 is 13% lower than the GDP of 1999, and the GDP per capita is 30% lower for the same years”.

Her original study “International Assistance in Support of the Palestinian Economy: The Role of Regional Partnerscan be found here as pdf file and it has been my main source for this article.

The Aid

Dr. Malhis summarizes the International assistance to the Palestinian people as follows:

The international assistance to the Palestinian people has an accelerated annual growth rate. The average annual contribution from 1994-2000 represented 500 million dollars and jumped to an average of 1 billion dollars a year from 2001-2005. Although 2006 witnessed a slight decrease registering 716 million dollars, the numbers rapidly escalated to 1.5 billion dollars in 2007, 1.7 billion in 2008, 1.8 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach almost 2 billion dollars in 2010.

the International community and Arab countries have managed to mobilize substantial resources to assist the Palestinian people amounting to no less than 12 billion dollars over the past 15 years. An additional 6 to 8 billion dollars were also mobilized during that same period through an array of active Arab and international civil society organizations and NGOs.

These numbers are also exclusive of the assistance provided through popular national campaigns from the Arab region, NGOs and other informal channels. These are estimated to have exceeded 5 billion dollars over the past decade mostly in the form of relief campaigns and food and cash donations. These numbers neither include the contributions provided by Arab governments to the UNRWA budget where the bulk of its expenditures are used to support its activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, nor the expenses associated with hosting more than 4 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

These numbers are of course highly encouraging when taking into consideration the size of the targeted part of the Palestinian people which do not exceed 3.9 million people in the occupied Palestinian territories and their GDP does not exceed 4.5 billion dollars annually according to the 2009 estimates.

The Impact

The impact of the international assistance is however poor if not even non-existent. Quote from study:

It has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground, even when taking into consideration the substantial investment carried by the Palestinian private sector in the occupied Palestinian territories, including those made by the Palestinian Diaspora as according to findings, these investment represent one third of the national GDP.

And despite donors’ generous assistance and contribution, we witnessed an incessant increase in the need for the Palestinian Authority to borrow from local banks to meet its obligations whereas the accumulated public debts of the Palestinian Authority to the local banking system has exceeded 733 million dollars in mid 2009 with accumulated arrears payments to the private sector of 188 million dollars; and therefore affecting the private sector’s ability to mobilize financial resources.

The main economic and social indicators are confirming the poor impact as expressed in table below:

Main Economic and Social Indicators (from study of Dr. Malhis)

– In 2009, the GDP is 13% lower than that of 1999 and the GDP per Capita 30% lower for that same year.

– The production capacity in the occupied territories was higher in the early nineties prior to the peace process, and the registered contribution of the agricultural and industrial sectors to the GDP did not exceed a mere 18.2% and only contributed to 29.2% of employment.

– The exports coverage to imports became a feeble 19%.

– The ability of Domestic Production to cover domestic national consumption has highly deteriorated resulting in an increase in dependency on Israeli imports and a heavy reliance on Arab and international aid to finance the cost of these imports.

– We have also witnessed a decrease in the Palestinian authority revenue stream resulting in its turn in an evident deterioration in its ability to provide basic services such as health, education, social development and security unless heavily subsidized by Arab and international donations and aid to support its expenditures.

– In 2009, international support was required to address a budget deficit of 61.4% equivalent to 39% of the Palestinian GDP.

Whatever progress there has been in the establishment of Palestinian Authority institutions, along with security, fiscal and administrative reform efforts, the bottom line is that these tens of billions of dollars spent in the past decade have ultimately failed to bring back the performance witnessed in 1999 on the socio-economic front.

The Mistakes

The study gives also indication about mistakes and causes of them related to transforming Aid into progress on the ground. From study:

These numbers and facts are giving us a clear indication that these practices and contributions have failed to capitalize on the resources mobilized, quite the contrary; one cannot but feel that these resources have been wasted. When the outcome of more than a 12 billion dollar investment results in such disastrous numbers, then it is obvious that immense mistakes were made on a strategic level.

Looking back, the mistakes done were not the responsibility of a sole partner, rather it has been the result of collective failures of all stakeholders from the Arab countries, to the International donor countries and institutions to the Palestinian Authority and Israel as well as the cumulative effect of an assistance that became donor and even charity driven rather than investment driven.

The Arab countries have also deviated from their decisions taken in the October 2000 Arab Emergency Summit in Cairo where it was clearly stated that emergency relief to the Palestinian people has to be coupled with developmental aid, and that 80% of the Arab funds mobilized should be channelled into investments to enhance the capacity of the Palestinian Authority and supporting it in creating a viable independent economy, more integrated with Arab, Regional and international economies in order to reduce its heavy reliance on lessen the smothering imposition of Israel.

The approach taken was a reactive one, where donors’ countries responded to crisis after crisis rather than work on an active engaged plan to build a stable environment and therefore avoid and pre-empt crises. Thus resources were wasted in trying to compensate and respond to the urgent needs of the Palestinian losses as a result of the aggressive Israeli policies and practices such as closures, embargo, confiscation of agricultural land and, control of water resources, demolition and destruction of agricultural produce, industrial plants and services, public and private properties, impediments to trade and crippling the movement of goods and people. The cost of such practices overshadowing all resources mobilized by donors therefore resulting in an always negative impact no matter the size of the investment.


Palestinians Responsibility

While International donors had only slight idea what they want to achieve with their donations and even worse strategy how to implement foggy visions in beneficiary region it’s clear that the Palestinian Authority also hold a sizeable responsibility. They failed to invest the funds mobilized by Arab and International donors on development, they used Aid to cover their current running expenditures and filling their own pockets instead of sustainable development.Hundreds of millions were invested by the PLO though private investments in businesses, restaurants, supermarkets in the US with no records kept with tens of millions lost for ever. With no one bothering to protect public funds, one has to wonder how many hundreds of millions people and individuals within the PLO and Fatah were able to make out of having monopolies for distributions of fuel, food, and other monopolies granted by Arafat and the PLO.

From study:

The Palestinian Authority failed to provide developmental sustainable solutions to unemployment, choosing governmental recruitment over encouraging and nurturing a vibrant productive economy to create jobs. They have also chosen to take the easy way to improve public revenues by financing the budget deficit through increasing the trade balance deficit, as well as competing with the private sector through public investments in vibrant sectors of the economy rather than invest in infrastructure to enable the private sector to flourish.

The Palestinian Authority has also failed to timely address allegations of misuse of funds, power and mismanagement as well as a lack of accountability and transparency in addition to fostering a large public sector that exceeds the national needs.

Our efforts need to multiply and result in well-studied strategies for development that will reflect our sincerity and commitment to the Palestinian people. These efforts need to be translated into massive reforms and visionary partnerships between donors, the Palestinian Authority and key sectors of Palestinian society, which would signify a paradigm shift in developmental strategies, a main component of which needs to be a capable and innovative workforce.

And the working model that can most effectively translate such strategies into positive realities is one that proposes to bring together prudent Arab, International public and private actors, progressive coordinated policies, a responsible private sector and an engaged civil society, whose purpose is to create a highly skilled, dynamic workforce that will push the Palestinians towards sustainable and balanced development. We need to work together to create the much needed infrastructure for a flourishing Palestinian economy, one that nurtures creativity and innovation, a productive knowledge economy that will allow the Palestinian people to build a life and not just an existence.


My Opinion

I do not believe that the case of Palestine is unique with development projects by big donors. In my earlier articles I have described some similar aspects and critical examples. More e.g.

From my viewpoint the first task for donors should be to put Aid programs into general context. Today seems that donors framework is fixed only to two-state solution. So Aid is going to state-building activities e.g. to construct some infrastructure in Gaza. When some building is ready and Hamas use that facility for their activities, Israel Defence Forces destroy it, then donors build it again and IDF destroys it – again and again the same vicious circle. In my earlier articles I have proposed other alternatives e.g. population transfer to get some buffer zone between IDF and Hamas (more in “Gaza War: Could Balkan history show way out?” ) or changing two-state solution to three-state option (more in “The Three-State Option could solve Gaza conflict” ). Putting other options on the table could give totally different vision to international Aid and maybe some positive outcome to beneficiaries too.

From project management point of view I like to highlight following aspects:


* At planning stage the correct information from the field should be provided, not only high level marketing reports
* The Aim(s) and output should be clearly defined and understood by both donor and beneficiary
* The final project plan should include realistic Logical Framework Approach (LogFrame)
* At implementation stage the events on the ground and the progress reports should be compared to verification measures in LogFrame
* The feedback from the event on the ground level and about inappropriate connections on the management level should be used to make necessary correction to original plan
* If the aims of original plan look unreachable or the methods with implementation are incorrect the financier should have courage to stop project when it is still ongoing without waiting yearlong investigations to be ready
* Internal investigations should be supported not prevented by donor management.

There is also question if aid money should be channelled through beneficiary government or through civil society/NGOs. My answer is complicated. First there is difference if we speak about emergency aid or more long term state building projects. In emergency case I think that effective actions can be made even without state authorities, directly on the field, in second case results are very difficult to achieve without government commitment.

Speaking development projects on the ground – not on emergency stage – there are many alternatives depending individual cases. Easiest for donors is to give aid through generalized budget support – results can vary from state to state and be like in Palestine, nonexistent. Through sector program assistance is the other option. Then it is possible contract international or national NGOs for implementation or give aid through multilateral mechanisms such as World Bank, UN programs etc. The core question too is to find in each case right balance between aid through government or aid through civil society organizations.

Whatever channel for Aid is selected from my viewpoint the core issue is to apply the Logical Framework Approach for implementation as well some more improved versions of it. The Logical Framework Approach is the matrix (the Logframe), which summarises what the project intends to do and how by selecting a preferred implementation strategy. It also analyses, what the key assumptions are, and how outputs and outcomes will be monitored and evaluated. From following link you may find the basic matrix of LogFrame idea: logical-framework2

In challenging and fast transforming environment there might be wise to use some improved LogFrame method such as the Appreciative Inquiry tool developed by SIDA, where the focus is placed on the things which are working well, and on finding positive action alternatives for resolving a situation. As LFA is found by many to be an overly problem-oriented model the Appreciative Inquiry tool is analysing also motivation and driving forces. Also useful might be further developed Social Framework, rather than a Logical Framework, because it emphasises people and their relationships, rather than more abstract events and processes.

But like I wrote earlier even the best project plans and their implementation can fail, unless they are coupled with a political solution with realistic vision about future.


The bottom line

Just look at the empirical reality on the ground. There is no Palestinian state, never was intended to be, and there isn’t one! (opinion from discussion forums)

There seems to be a huge gap between fine ideas/plans/collected money in Brussels and their reasonable distribution at local level in Palestine. The biggest mismanagement or misuse of Aid money is not according my opinion local criminal activities. The strategic error has made in international level by not knowing the demands or challenges on the ground, not adjusting ideas and plans according local needs or the moment of Aid delivery, using indefinite mixture of emergency relief and long term planning, lack of simple and unambiguous development strategy and strategic leadership. The real crime will be if international community does not correct earlier errors and practices at strategic level – only after that one can demand smoothly flowing project at local level. The strategic error is to use Aid funds only in a right way, not to right purposes.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.

 



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.

 



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.

 



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.

 



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government – a typical crime story from Balkans

February 12, 2009

This post was first published in TH!NK ABOUT IT site 12th February 2009.

The internal report shows that a project of World Bank in southern Albania led to the destruction and destitution of a powerless village Jale in 2007. The report, obtained last week by Balkan Insight , a publication run by investigative journalists in southeast Europe, also noted allegations of corruption and efforts at a cover up. The Bank has already announced the suspension of a loan for the project. World bank, the world’s largest and most influential anti-poverty institution and part of the U.N. system, is doling out $100 billion over the next three years for development projects. (Source BalkanInsight) As the case from my viewpoint is not unique exception it is maybe worth to analyze it a bit more.

The investigation by an inspection panel found that World Bank management failed to comply with its policies with respect to the design, appraisal and implementation of the project, harming the local people affected by it. The probe also found that WB assisted the demolition by pressuring local construction police to take action and by supplying them with equipment and aerial photos.

In addition to the project’s failure to comply with World Bank policies,  the investigators noted allegations of corruption and complaints that the demolition of the Jale settlements was part of a bigger scheme to develop the area as a tourist resort.

The project

In 2005 $18 million in WP financing was provided for a vaguely-worded $39 million “coastal zone management” project that would clean up the area’s shoreline, “strengthen governance” of the zone, “enhance cultural resources,” and “encourage community support for sustainable coastal zone management.”

The World Bank only agreed to the financing after its board of directors in Washington was first assured that the Albanian government, headed by socialist Prime Minister Sali Berisha, had reached an agreement on a “moratorium” on demolitions of the houses of the Jale residents.

That assurance came in the form of a critical sentence in what is known as a “project appraisal document” (or PAD). But the statement was false. No such deal had been struck.

On April 3, 2007, the villagers were notified that their houses would be demolished. They were given five days to appeal to a local court, which they did, but the construction police did not wait for the hearing. According to the investigators, many of the dispossessed were told they should be happy, as the World Bank would soon be giving them better homes and lifestyles.

Since the World Bank board had been wrongly assured that there would be no demolitions without a formal agreement, there were, of course, no World Bank-financed homes on the horizon. (Moreover, the panel report notes, the bank has done nothing since the demolitions to assist the victims in any way.)

The bulldozing caused an immediate furore in the Albanian media and parliament if not in Washington with one politician after another arguing they were illegal under Albanian law.(As source I have used FOX News).

Political connection/corruption

While never mentioned by name in any of the reports or memos, the Albanian responsible for coordinating the World Bank-financed project was Jamarber Malltezi, an official with the country’s Ministry of Public Works and the son-in-law of prime minister Berisha.

In March 2007, just weeks before Jale was demolished, Malltezi sent a letter to the head of the country’s “construction police” on the official letterhead of the Bank-financed project, according to the panel’s report discussing potential demolitions, “the importance of sustainable development” and the need for the police to act “as fast as possible.” Attached to the letter were two CDs with aerial photography financed with World Bank funds indicating the houses to be destroyed.

In addition to the project’s failure to comply with World Bank policies,  the investigators noted allegations of corruption and complaints that the demolition of the Jale settlements was part of a bigger scheme to develop the area as a tourist resort.

World Bank Spent More Than a Year Covering Up Destruction of Albanian Village

The investigative panel also accused World Bank management of misrepresenting facts during the probe and hampering the investigation by withholding access to data, while it notes the unusual lack of recollection of facts and crucial events by staff. Investigators say that several WB staff members both in headquarters and on the field were “coached” to provide unusually consistent but factually incorrect or misleading information.

Managers at the World Bank provided false information to the agency’s board of directors about a project and then spent nearly two years trying to cover it up. But what is crystal clear are the attempts by bank officials to hide something. The panel’s report is filled with allegations of the bank obstructing investigators in their year-long probe in language highly unusual for a bureaucratic document. (Reference FOX News)

The Albanian Response: World Bank influenced by the Albanian mafia

On 9th February 2009 Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha accused a World Bank investigative panel of being influenced by the Albanian mafia for their report on a controversial coastal management project that was used to demolish parts of a village and leave many families homeless.

“I express my contempt for the unscrupulous slander of the investigative panel in what they call an independent report, but which has been dictated by the Albanian land mafia,” said Berisha in a press conference on Sunday, adding that he had asked World Bank officials to probe the panel’s ties to organized crime. (Source BalkanInsight)

Simultaneously in London’s FT

In a column in London’s Financial Times on 25 January 2009, WB president Robert Zoellick called for an “Age of Responsibility” that would include developed countries giving nearly 1 percent of their economic stimulus packages to the world’s poor.

“The World Bank could manage the distribution of the cash with the United Nations and the regional development banks,” he wrote. “We could use existing mechanisms to deliver the funds fast and flexibly, backed by monitoring and safeguards so the money is well spent.”


And the World Bank’s board? It will meet February 17 to discuss the panel’s report and management’s official response to it.

How about EU?

World Bank is only one donor in Balkans the big one is European Union and it also has its share of problems . Couple of months ago I wrote an article “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds” referring information made in public in German daily Die Welt on 18 December 2008. The core message was that a big part of EU Aid for reconstruction projects of Kosovo has been wasted due criminal activities, corruption, frauds and mismanagement. As base of the claim were the investigations conducted by the EU Anti Fraud Office (OLAF), UN investigators and the Italian Financial Police. More than 50 cases of financial embezzlement was found – most of them in energy sector. In twelve of these cases there is proof of criminal liability.

While most of the 2.3 billion Euros invested in the reconstruction of Kosovo since 1999, after the NATO bombing of Serbia, has disappeared without a trace and when it is expected that by 2011 the EU will throw Kosovo another one billion euro it could be clever to spare a minute for quality-planning and future management.

Lessons learned

Unfortunately I do not believe that the case I have described is unique in Balkans or universally with development projects by big donors. From project management point of view I like to highlight following aspects:

  • At planning stage the correct information from the field should be provided, not only high level marketing reports
  • The Aim(s) and output should be clearly defined and understood by both donor and beneficiar
  • The final project plan should include realistic Logical Framework Approach (LogFrame)
  • At implementation stage the events on the ground and the progress reports should be compared to verification measures in LogFrame
  • The feedback from the event on the ground level and about inappropriate connections on the management level should be used to make necessary correction to original plan
  • If the aims of original plan look unreachable or the methods with implementation are incorrect the financier should have courage to stop project when it is still ongoing without waiting yearlong investigations to be ready
  • Internal investigations should be supported not prevented by donor management.

The biggest mismanagement or misuse of Aid money is not according my opinion local criminal activities. The strategic error has made in international level by not knowing the demands on the ground, not adjusting ideas and plans according local needs or the moment of Aid delivery, using indefinite mixture of emergency relief and long term planning, lack of simple and unambiguous development strategy and strategic leadership.

The strategic error is to use Aid funds only in a right way, not to right purposes. The fatal crime will be if international community does not correct earlier errors and practices at strategic level – only after that one can demand smoothly flowing project at local level.



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