Shift funds from consultants to NGOs to rev up ACP engine
Eminent persons are great and government servants are great but when it comes to the grass roots they do tend to be away from the action, and the reliance on consultants has meant that the message is filtered. If you take at least 15% of what is spent on consultants and spend it getting feedback from a regular dialogue with non-government organisations, you may get a better intervention platform.
That said, workshops and meetings seem to be all we do, as far as being involved in the ACP process as civil society. In the AAACP Commodities programme we gave feedback. This ACP-EU funded programme was to encourage intermediary organisations to cooperate in working with the ACP countries, so the Euro $100 million went to World Bank, ITC, FAO, UNCTAD and the Cotton Group. How much filtered to the grass roots and resulted in sustainable development and growth? I feel that you need some feedback from CSOs and NGOs in the design of interventions so as to ensure that it leads to effective and sustainable development. There were positive experiences too - I must admit I found ITC refreshing and good to work with as they pursued a sustainable development path with a focus on the value chain to develop economic opportunities based on market demands.
In general however, I feel the ACP-EU framework tends to treat NGOs and CSOs with little respect and in many cases, end up proposing a use of funds that shows a general disconnect with the realities on the ground. Today's globalised world actually means that the increased communications increases the transparency and there is a need for this to be reflected in the designs of the programmes. For that to happen, consultations under thematic areas need to be clearly put out for comment.
Making a difference
The ACP Group can actually make a difference in real people’s lives by funding interventions that actually create sustainable growth that complies with the global perspective that the EU and UN say they want for all. Every nation has a competitive and comparative advantage and we need to enable it, but we also need to realise that shall mean that there are countries with greater and lesser resources. Therefore we shall not get even growth or development and some shall need more of a hand up than others.
I have attended many meetings involving Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the ACP grouping and one of the noticeable failures as a lack of a cohesive and coherent approach to address issues that are impacting on our ability to trade and become part of the global economy. As an international alliance, the ACP could develop policies to amend the current global attempts that say there is only one way of doing things. In fact, in many organisations that serve the economic integration of the world, the policies are based on the developed country model. That is good when you have unlimited resources, but when your resources are limited and specific, there is a need to encourage a more caring society based on the needs of the community and not just on “me” and “my needs for I”.
The ACP alliance could then make some strong proposals here. Otherwise who do we look to? There are no other groupings that can be large enough to do this. *
The views expressed are entirely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of the ACP Group or any of its member states, the ACP Secretariat or the ACP Eminent Persons Group.