Foreign Aid Truths
|English: The United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
a country where corruption is seen as "endemic"? Britain is already the biggest national donor to Nepal - but what has happened to this aid? ....... The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) has spent more than £20m ($30m) in the last four years on an earthquake resilience programme. So what has it achieved? ....... One focus has been on improving building regulations and enforcing them. But walk through downtown Kathmandu and you see hundreds of new buildings that are unsafe, badly built and have clearly flouted these building laws. ...... "Nepal suffers from poor governance, and corruption is endemic. ....... "If Nepal is to become less corrupt, improvements in governance and a change of culture have to be made to state institutions." ..... Part of DFID's programme was carried out by the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP) which received more than £5m in funding from the UK for its comprehensive disaster risk management programme (CDRMP). One senior aid insider told me the project was "a disaster from start to finish". ......
Over five years, the UN spent £1.3m of its original £10m budget on two international employees....... Millions more went in what the public project document lists as unspecified "professional services". ...... the UNDP had "poor financial controls, weaknesses in payment processes and misreporting and recording of payments". .... Because of the widespread corruption and bureaucracy within the government of Nepal, international donors like DFID have channelled their money into the big NGOs and UN agencies to deliver their programmes. ...... Dr Govind Pokharel, vice-chairman of Nepal's National Planning Commission, admits the system is weak and corrupt but says the huge salaries on offer in NGOs and the UN means they are causing a brain drain in Nepal's civil service.
"A government guy gets $200 for a month, whereas you are paying $2,000 per month at an NGO or agency, it is damaging," he says........ "The Nepal police didn't like it. I was paid $300 (£190) a day but for the international consultants it was £1,200 a day." ..... "There's a strong case to say we should use national consultants before we go international. There will be a wave that will come - whether it's a helpful wave remains to be seen."
If the corruption culture is not remedied, and if somehow magically you get to cut down on the huge fees for foreign consultants, then most of the money will then go to corruption. Foreign consultants might be ridiculously expensive, but domestic corruption should not be getting a free ride in the process. There are two problems.