Limited human resources to manage European Aid in Tanzania: focus on macro-economic interventions to assist a country facing in-depth changes
01 / 1999
European co-operation in Tanzania focuses on issues defined in the National Indicative Programme (NIP) : mainly structural adjustment, infrastructure, and natural resources.
Decentralised co-operation is too time-consuming and, with regard to the human resources available at the Delegation, it is not realistic to develop such a tool.
Decentralised Co-operation is by definition not in any « centre » and should not be guided from the top. The actual move in Tanzania was initiated by Brussels without any consultation with the Delegation. This is unfortunate, because the Delegation is already overburdened with ongoing programs and will find it very hard to get involved in new ones.
Every time the Delegation moves out a program, something new comes in.
This has reached a situation where the Delegation is not far from being held prisoner of procedures set up to always make it spend more money.
Co-ordination is carried out in close collaboration with the Ministry of Finance for short-term as well as long-term activities. The Delegation has very scarce human-resources assistance.
Apart from the National Indicative Programme (NIP), the Delegation also has the responsibility for managing the Stabex fund for coffee and cotton export crops.
The Delegation has become one of the most competent donors for macroeconomic interventions.
It is of course important not to put all the eggs is the same basket and to diversify forms of co-operation. It has become, however, very difficult for the Delegation to maintain a close and authentic contact with the field. Desk officers are short of time for performing their ordinary duties in their office and they cannot afford to spend too much time meeting other actors from the Tanzanian civil society.
The micro-project program is a good instrument. It is necessary, however, to change the traditional methods, which are too time-consuming. The delegation is looking for NGO networks that would be able to manage credit lines and to dispatch and monitor credit among other actors.
One should admit that NGO involvement (in projects in general) requires a high degree of professionalism, which is still lacking in the Tanzanian context.
Capacity building is needed and this cannot be the responsibility of the Delegation.
Non-governmental actors have to fight for their resources, which makes them less dynamic in their actual work.
EUD is very keen to scrutinise NGO projects that are co-financed through the present mechanism, which allows European NGOs to compete for funds in Brussels. But it is not easy to transpose such procedures at the level of the Delegation in Tanzania.
There may be regional programs (SADC, EAC, COMESA) focusing on the same national priorities (such as infrastructure for Tanzania) and it is easy to act in synergy with national programs. This is not always the case for example for agriculture, which is a regional priority but not a national one.
Co-operation decisions are made within ad-hoc donors committees, but the Head of Delegation may also take initiatives for specific issues as he did recently with regard to support for Burundi peace talks.
In the early 1970s, a young officer was involved in grassroots activities in an East African country. Some twenty years later, he became the Head of Delegation of the European Union in Tanzania. From that early period, he has kept an inner feeling that grassroots organisations can be crucial actors in a development process. However, he appears very critical of the role that a central body, such as EUD, could play in a positive way to enhance grassroots participation. His concerns about the efficiency of human resources tend to favour a form of co-operation that « consumes » money with limited risks. How many thousands of euros can you spend per day?
NGOs are always over suspected of wasting funds without any capacity, although he seems not to know that the Government often only has a real capacity at the top level, where he has his direct counterparts during discussions, but that at lower levels, the lack of capacity of the government is even worse than in the non-governmental sector.
Tensions created by the Commission concerning « joint action » have been counterproductive. The Delegation is conscious of the limits of the Government’s ability to be the sole beneficiary of EU assistance, but it does want to be told what to do from Brussels. At this point, all parties seem to stand on their position, resulting in a confrontation of people rather than a real confrontation of ideas. EUD also favours dialogue with the Ministry of Finance, whose priority is obviously to solve macroeconomic problems such as internal debt, structural adjustment, etc., when Local Governments, recently theoretically empowered through the decentralisation acts, would need decentralised co-operation, which they can see as a source of scarce funds.
The problem seems that EUD would like to find actors strong enough or professional enough to manage, at a low cost, big amounts of money on their behalf because their staff are focused on other priorities.
Written for the public debate « Actors and processes of the cooperation », which could feed the next Lome Convention (European Union/ACP countries relations). This debate, animated by the FPH, has been started by the Cooperation and Development Commission of the European Parliament and is supported by the European Commission.
Interview with Peter Beck CHRISTIANSEN, Head of EU Delegation in Tanzania. European delegation, PO Box 9514 Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania , email@example.com.