Monthly Archives: November 2013

What happens to sustainability when donors don’t trust the government anymore?

I am trying to get my head around to what happens to a cooperation programme when donors refuse to give direct funds to the government. One big argument of funding government to do good things is that it builds capacity and hence leaves something behind – in theory at least.
When donors refuse to do that, and insist that development funds can only go to NGOs, it becomes really difficult to continue to support government capacity – and how is that going to leave government more capable to handle services by itself down the line (at one point)? Funding NGO projects can easily just get everyone into a cycle of aid dependency, and certainly won’t build better government.
Is this the moment where one should go all the way down to the community level? And where does government start, i.e. where does support have to stop not to violate donor conditions? It certainly is not a very straightforward situation, and needs careful – and some really good creative – thinking to not make blocked aid a more serious problem than it already is. . . .

Information Management and Aggregation

I am looking at humanitarian information management for a client at the moment. What intrigues me is the variety of systems that are around – from “home-grown” (i.e. internal) developments to open source and even crowdsourcing systems (Ushahidi being the most prominent of the latter). Great to see such variety and drive to really make information management more efficient and streamlined.

What I am missing, however, is THE aggregator. I am a big fan of feedly for my rss feeds (and thanks – with hindsight – to Google for burying Google Reader – feedly is so much better). What I miss is an aggregator for humanitarian and development information. A colleague and friend just pointed me to AidData ( Hadn’t heard of it before – and it is such an aggregator. And at first glance it looks impressive and worthy of support.

There is a lot, however, to be done on aggregation at a lower level. Say, there is a crisis in Country X and Ushahidi deploys, UN OCHA runs an IM, various other organisations set up their information systems. Some feed into the OCHA systems, some remain distinct, and most likely not all use the same baseline or situation data, or even the same indicators. All “real life”, non-IT problems, but they affect the IT systems as much as they did affect the pre-IT work.

So how can we aggregate humanitarian data better? How do we really know how many people we have reached across all organisations across all sectors? There remains a lot of work to be done, and while IT will help, we need to fix a lot of intrinsic non-IT information management problems first.

AidData is a promising development. Let’s hope there will be more.