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  1. Robert Cannon
    Robert Cannon April 21, 2017 at 11:02 am

    This is a welcome discussion about advisers and I look forward to reading further contributions on this theme. There is much to be concerned about. Whilst there are many professionally outstanding, enthusiastic and dedicated advisers working in development, there is a disturbing number who lack these qualities. This should concern us.

    What Carmen, Joachim and Michael correctly refer to as aid contractors were disparagingly known as “body shops” in the past. For good reason too; they frequently appointed people to advisers roles who were noticeably lacking in appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to undertake their assignments but were, none-the-less, “bodies” on the ground.

    My recent experience in development projects in different countries suggests this situation is not much changed: well qualified nationals overlooked for employing under qualified foreigners; out-of-field professionals working in technical specialisations (specifically in education and in monitoring and evaluation); and too many with no in-country experience or language skills whatsoever. I know this to be true not only from observation and direct experience but because I have personally been in each of these uncomfortable situations myself at times.

    Yes, it can be very tough for contractors to find the right people to undertake some roles but on the face of it contractors, development agencies and recipient governments need to do very much better in collaboratively deploying and managing the best people possible – especially nationals. I have much sympathy with the PNG Government’s approach.

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