"Follow the money": Local Voices roundtable Sept 2003
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 email@example.com and
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 mailto:email@example.com
Refreshments will be served. See you there!
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