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AFRO-NETS> "Follow the money": Local Voices roundtable Sept 2003

"Follow the money": Local Voices roundtable Sept 2003
Dear Colleagues,
The subject "Follow the Money" to be discussed at the September 
"Local Voices" Roundtable in Abuja is timely and very important. 
(See original message below)
You will ask the questions: 
1. Does the money get to the local people it is supposed to help?
2. Who is responsible for making sure that resources get to com-
   munities and people living with HIV? 
3. More resources are promised for the cause of HIV/AIDS preven-
   tion in the future. Who will be tracking it?
The answers to the first question are probably NO and DON'T KNOW
The answer to the second question is probably HARDLY ANYBODY
The answer to the third question is VIRTUALLY NOBODY
It has been apparent for some time that the issue of accounting 
and accountability in development resource flows is a very impor-
tant issue, and this includes resource flows associated with 
health and the HIV-AIDS pandemic. 
And it is apparent that there are no organizations within the of-
ficial development assistance (ODA) community that are going to 
take up the challenge of implementing a system to establish rig-
orous and useful accounting and accountability so that fund flows 
can be seen to go where they are intended and produce valuable 
An independently run information system to do effective account-
ing for development resource flows is needed, and should be set 
up as soon as possible. The technology to implement such a data-
base has been available for a number of years, and today can be 
done largely with open source software, and the Internet makes it 
relatively easy to have universal accessibility to the database 
information, and to modules to update database information.
This is not "just another database". The database that is needed 
is one that is driven by professional excellence in accounting 
and the validation of data included in the database, and a ground 
swell of demand for the information that these data represent. 
There is international political "talk" about very large finan-
cial resource flows to help in the African HIV-AIDS crisis, but 
rather less visible delivery of resources to deserving benefici-
aries. How much actual funding is being disbursed, and where is 
the money going? This is the sort of information this database 
must be able to manage.
I think it is time to stop talking about the need for information 
of this type and start to do something about it. It is time for 
us to start getting together to build a reliable database of all 
the good works that are going on in the world, driven by local 
people and serving local people. And to put in the record what we 
know of development resource flows of all types.
Some of us should try to get together to create such a database 
along these lines. It would not cost a lot to get the database 
started, and we can migrate to a bigger system as the database 
develops. In order for this database to be successful it needs to 
be reliable, interesting and have potential for value. The data-
base needs to have a good architecture so that it is easy to use 
and will not choke as it expands. To be credible the system must 
be secure, and there needs to be a system that "validates" every-
thing that goes into the database, and leaves an "audit trail" 
behind so that it is impossible to use the database as a scam. 
The goal should be to help get funds to flow to good things 
rather than to bad things. If the database is well designed it 
can also be used in support of resource mobilization and as a 
tool for delivering on accounting and accountability require-
This is relatively easy to set up, but it does take organization 
and some funding. A database that starts to offer information 
about development success, and the flows of funds associated with 
success will embarrass the world's rich programs, many of which 
make little or no contribution to "economic value adding" in de-
velopment. But more important, the decisions about funding can be 
influenced in favor of things that work rather than programs that 
Getting an Internet accessible database operating is relatively 
easy to do. It needs some clarity in its internal architecture so 
that it can answer critical questions easily, and it needs to 
have security. But all of this is possible. The challenge is to 
organize to do it and get going. 
I am copying this message to and two e-lists that also know something of my interest 
in addressing the issue of accounting and accountability in 
development, and the resource flows (or lack of) into the African 
health and HIV-AIDS crisis. 
Peter Burgess
ATCnet in New York 
Tel: +1-212 772 6918 
Fax: +1-707 371 7805
Subj: [eforum] "Follow the money": Local Voices roundtable Sept 
Date: 9/22/2003 7:40:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time 
We're following the trail of money at the "Local Voices" Roundta-
ble for September 2003.
One in 20 Nigerians is living with HIV. Nigerian non-governmental 
organizations (NGOs) are a critical part of the efforts to treat 
and prevent further spread of HIV and AIDS. For their parts, for-
eign governments, foundations and international health agencies 
are eagerly providing resources for the work. 
Does the money get to the local people it is supposed to help? 
How? Who is responsible for making sure that resources get to 
communities and people living with HIV? 
More resources are promised for the cause of HIV/AIDS prevention 
in the future. Who will be tracking it?
Follow the Money Topic: Perception versus Reality: How NGOs ob-
tain and manage foreign aid for HIV and AIDS prevention
When: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm 
Venue: Conference room, Internews Network, Plot 139, Monrovia 
street, off Aminu Kano crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja.
Journalists, media practitioners and NGOs are cordially invited 
to attend this highly interactive session. Join the dialogue on 
Tuesday, September 30 2003.
For further information, please contact 
Charles Onyekatu at Internews: 
09-413-4998 or
Refreshments will be served. See you there!
Charles Onyekatu 

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