Cross-fertilising between developing countries
As you will see from the list of countries in which I have worked (note 1 in this introduction), I have never worked in the UK, although I was exposed to social institutions in the UK while at LSE (see Chapter 4). I have never felt that being British means that I have something useful to offer to developing countries. In fact, my value comes from the wealth of experiences that I have had in comparable countries beyond the UK. I am useful to small Caribbean Islands because of my experience in small Pacific Islands (and vice versa - Chapters 5 and 6);
I am useful to countries coming out of the experience of centralised one-party states because I have worked in comparator countries (Chapter 15); I am useful to NGOs and CSOs everywhere (and their struggles with governments) because I learned my trade in Bangladesh, home of the best NGOs in the world (Chapter 10); I am useful to all CSOs trying to become financially sustainable because Pact and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) gave me the freedom to research and develop these ideas (Chapter 12); I am useful to all countries working on issues of corruption because the Partnership in Indonesia and the AKF allowed me to work on these topics and learn what makes corruption happen (Chapter 13).
Working for governments or NGOs
1 have worked only once for governments — the British and Dominican Governments in the Caribbean (see Chapter 5) — and in short-term consultancies for the USA. In all other places I have happily worked for NGOs and CSOs. Compared with the enthusiasm, drive and commitment of NGOs and CSOs, government ministries and departments are, in my experience, and with a few exceptions, dull, boring, bureaucratic places, often riven with corruption. When colleagues point out that working with government allows for large and national-level change whereas NGOs are small and lacking influence, my response has been that NGOs and CSOs can show what can be done and can demonstrate models to governments, and that they are, for the most part, organisations of integrity'.
Looking a fter a family
1 was single during Chapters 1-6, married to a partner during Chapters 7-20, and had kids during Chapters 9—20. The biggest danger is having a partner who does not have a worthwhile job that interests him or her, and having children whom you cannot afford to bring up and educate as you want. My partner had a parallel and very interesting career in development, working for local NGOs and then UNICEF until the period of Chapter 15; she then retired with a very useful UNICEF pension. ’ We paid for our kids to go to local primary schools, and then UNICEF, USAID and UNDP at different times paid for our children’s secondary schooling and university placements, for which I am eternally thankful. Because of my serial jobs, I never got a worthwhile pension. Learn from me, brothers and sisters — if you want to be a development practitioner and have a family, there are some tough hurdles to overcome.
Morality, ethics and codes of conduct
When I showed drafts of this book to my peers, they asked why I had not addressed the issues of shameful behaviour by expatriate aid workers (notably Oxfam in Haiti and UN Peacekeepers all over the world). In my experience, such events usually occur at times of disaster when the pressures and tensions are ver)' high and expatriate staff are “parachuted” in. I had not had that experience, although I came in on the tail end of such a situation in Timor-Leste in 2004 (see Chapter 14 - particularly the references to the UN’s “camp followers”). Organisations employing expatriates should have due diligence structures in place and supervise them well, they should have intensive briefings with potential employees on what is and is not deemed acceptable, and follow-up should be implemented if the codes of conduct are abused — and, in my experience, this is not done sufficiently. Workers in the aid trade are by no means saints; they need to be constrained by clear rules and regulations. It is also true, as I have been told by my daughter, working in South Sudan and Somalia, that aid workers, depending on the danger in their placements, are frequently housed in protected compounds and can only leave these compounds accompanied by security officials.