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Western Aid Money Used on Costly Consultants

A new report says one quarter of the international aid given by rich nations each year some 20-billion dollars is being wasted on expensive and often ineffective western consultants, research and training. It says the consultants can cost up to one thousand dollars a day. The group ActionAid released the report called Real Aid 2 Wednesday.

Caroline Sande Mukulira is the South Africa country director for ActionAid. From London, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the group’s concerns.

“We are pushing the wrong solutions through these sort of aid packages. We are pushing a paradigm that suggests that the West knows best. But I think more worrying is the fact that at the end of the day there isn’t value for money. This technical assistance is failing to deliver. And in effect we are ending up seeing a situation where the pockets of western consultants are being lined rather than actually tackling poverty and making a difference in the lives of poor people. So the report is really calling for fundamental reform to the way aid is administered, but particularly to the way technical assistance programs are designed,” she says.

She says one example is of Japanese consultants going against local advice on irrigation projects in Tanzania, resulting in the importation of much more expensive equipment that could not be used by local farmers. She’s confident local consultants could do better.

“If local people are in the driving seat and if governments are determining a clear framework of negotiation based on real needs on the ground, then evidence suggests that there is greater accountability and follow through for the results. What’s happening now…is this West knows best approach is being touted. You have western consultants flying in who often know very little about the situation on the ground,” says Mukulira.

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