Saturday, April 17, 2010

Haiti ... about the elements of a community centric development plan

Dear Colleagues

Some time back I suggested that the development plan for Haiti should have the following elements. I have been asked to expand on these points.
  1. getting a plan that is good enough and appropriate for promulgation;
  2. structuring something that allows funding to flow into the private sector appropriately
  3. getting funds mobilized;
  4. getting funds into a structure that delivers sustainable people based progress;
  5. getting and maintaining the trust and collaboration of Haitians.
This has the potential to be a major undertaking, but the salient points are set out below.

Getting a plan that is good enough and appropriate for promulgation
Data overload is a huge problem ... a plan must be good enough so that it effectively reduces the problem of data overload. This is achieved by having the data organized. There are location specific data ... data about a community, and there are sector specific data ... data about the organizations and know-how that are associated with the sector. The planning focus of the Community Analytics (CA) methodology is the community, because this is where people live and work ... and equally important it is in the community where all the various sector initiatives are required to come together in a practical way!

Structuring something that allows funding to flow into the private sector appropriately

The enterprise economy works by combining labor, resources and money so that something of value emerges. In the enterprise model labor is paid wages, resources are paid for and investors get their money back with interest. Where there is value adding, there is also sustainability ... and progress is possible. The relief and development economy works by identifying needs, and then satisfying those needs by "hand outs" with no expectation that there should be any payment for the assistance. It is essentially a welfare approach that has no sustainability and eventually the money runs out.

In an emergency the urgency of relief needs means that the welfare hand outs are essential ... but this should be changed as soon as possible to something that has the form of the enterprise model. The multiplier effects from the enterprise model are an added benefit.

Appropriate legal structures are needed to manage enterprise activities and to provide an accountability framework. A development fund for a community, a cooperative in the community, a community business, a community bank are all possible. People to run these organizations have to be trusted people. Independent accountability is critical as well.

Getting funds mobilized

A major step has been made with the commitment of over $9 billion to Haiti ... with more than $5 billion in the next two years. But these funds are likely to be "stuck" unless there is a program that can flow these resources into works that are part of a plan that serves not only the immediate relief needs but also longer term development goals. This is what the plan must do.

Getting funds into a structure that delivers sustainable people based progress.

Essentially, the best use of relief and development funds is to "recapitalize" the economy of Haiti. This may be done so that it benefits the economy of Haiti as a whole, and the people, or it may be done so that it benefits a few of the local industrialists with little or no trickle down to the ordinary people. Major contracts to "outside" contractors has the potential to speed up activities, bu not to speed up socio-economic progress ... and it is this latter that is important.

I have a strong concern that the fund management under a set of procedures originating with the World Bank is going to be counter-productive. The enterprise model for development depends on diversity and pragmatic optimization rather than theoretical constructs that have been created based on World Bank "experience" in many countries over many years. Haiti needs something that is likely to work in the specific conditions of a community, with its human, natural and material resources best deployed for success ... and funded in a timely efficient way!

Getting and maintaining the trust and collaboration of Haitians

Haitians have seen international intervention before ... many times. It is very reasonable for them to be skeptical about a plan and its potential for success. Accordingly the plan should provide for some small steps that will allow for success to be demonstrated ... and with success it should slowly be possible to build trust ... and then collaboration ... and then progress that will be sustainable.

All of these things are easy to write ... much more difficult to do. But by having the plan structured as community modules, it becomes much more manageable ... and each community can go at its own pace depending on the capacity of the community.

I would be happy to answer questions about this ... and in due course to share the planning modules.

Peter Burgess

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