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National Governments and NGOs: The Friction Point

Tom Grubisich's picture

Ann Kendall represents the Cusichaca Trust's winning entry in DM2009 that would use pre-Hispanic water-management systems to respond to the adverse affects of climate change in an Andean community of 2,350 families in Peru. In this mini-interview she has some very interesting things to say about the competition and how it could better help finalists, winners and non-winners alike.

Q. What impressed you most about DM2009?

A. The variety of levels of knowledge, experience, issues focussed, and the finalists' desire to contribute. Plus the effort and thought the World Bank staff had put into creating a program to encompass this range.

Q. What improvements would you like to see?

A. This year’s agenda and the series of sessions were very intensive and had all the strains of a crash course in order to communicate/educate at all levels of experience. It provided lots of opportunity but was perhaps too intense for some, so that there was less space for taking initiatives and advantage for more specific choices of dialogue developed with individuals and concerning more project specific interests, which could have included a deeper exploration of connections between fellow finalists objectives and appreciating the points of value of their issues and presentations and how these might interact with their own objectives. In 2006 I remember there was more collegial, general interaction with World Bank staff who took the time to visit and take a relaxed interest in the stands. Their conversations and reactions to the finalists about their specific presentations were most useful, as were their own matured interests and concerns, sharing their World Bank experiences and views. The interaction in 2009 with the World Bank managerial staff...was excellent and greatly appreciated. It would have been good to have had a couple of free hours one afternoon and some info on book shops in Washington for acquiring/reviewing available published materials. Maybe this was available on the Friday and the winners missed out on it!

Q. Should there be a bigger money pool to produce more winners or to extend winning projects beyond the early-stage period?


 A. The important issue is standards/quality. If further excellent projects fulfil all challenges, the availability of some extra funding would be useful for spending here or for matching and extensions of original projects after their completion. The funding currently offered at up to $200,000 a year is certainly adequate for the smaller, newer organizations embarking on basic and initial grassroots-type projects. However, for bigger or experienced NGOs with challenging programs it is hard to keep within this budget and outside complements may be required if the full program is to be achieved. In this case there is an argument for an increased money pool, perhaps at the discretion of the WB. Two years is also a very short period of time for some projects to be effective unless the NGO has years of prior social contact or interaction with the site chosen for the project. This latter category of NGOs and many NGOs in general are experiencing very tough decisions and reduction of their programs or even closure. In Peru, for example, government funds are not available to NGOs since they are seen as potential political activists sometimes acting against government interests. At the same time international sources are no longer available directly to NGOs due to the country classification change to a middle-income country. It could be that two levels of financing, in which the ceiling was higher for the second group, would make the prize more valuable for guaranteeing the full achievement of some of the more ambitious projects which might be faced with finding additional funding for completion of some costs, which may not be found within this period of financial crisis.

Q. What do the winners need beyond the competition award money?

A. Perhaps there could be an additional support system to help winning project organizations who struggle to find their matching funding either to complete or to carry out a follow up extension of the project in a third year (subject to WB evaluation) during this period of financial crisis and change.

Q. What could DM do for the non-winning finalists?

A. Help to find funding for additional projects for [non-winning] finalists might dilute the main objective of the DM unless this is seen as a separately set up support system for sources outside the World Bank, which would be open to all for counselling and orientation on the last afternoon after announcement of the results. Search for further funding outside the WB could be open for both groups over a longer period of time so that actions are more efficient/followed up. A sort of WB brokering service?!

Q. How about finalists connecting with their countries, particularly in the cases of Least Developed Countries and their National Adaptation Programs for Action?

A.  Persuade some governments, e.g., Peruvian Government, of the positive value and contribution available to be made by many NGOs and small local organizations, especially to give them more local support in areas of traditional systems in marginalized areas which can often contribute interesting ideas to help solve wider current problems. Currently NGOs are undervalued, with exclusion from paid participation in government programs because of the support of some activists to communities in some notably conflictive situations. Perhaps sending the lists of the finalists particularly recommended with WB evaluations of their projects to the governments concerned would be of local interest.


I agree with the assessment of what the winners might need beyond the competition award money --- an additional support system to help winners who struggle to find their matching funding during a financial crisis period. Ann's perspective is pragmatic.

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