NZADDs Info-Update Feb 2013: Cows Without Borders and More!

Hello and welcome to the NZADDs info-update for Feb 2012.

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Cows without borders!
Burma News International reports that:

[Update: you can read the consultants’ report on this project here. Note that they do not recommend dairy as the most effective means of assistance.]

“New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key recently toured Myanmar’s major cities of Yangon and Naypyitaw and pledged NZ $6 million in development funding for a model dairy farm, the first of its kind in Myanmar…Over the coming five years, their flagship [dairy] project in Myanmar will be the model dairy farm, which aims to engage 20 to 25 local farmers, each with around 10 dairy cows, in a small-scale cooperative farming basis. New Zealand dairy experts will assist with quality control, feedstock, milk processing and development and general expertise and guidance on the cattle’s upkeep.”

Assuming this report is correct, simple arithmetic provides cause for concern. Apportioned over 5 years, spread across 25 farmers, the funding involved equates to NZ$48,000 per farmer per year, or $NZ240,000 per farmer over the 5 year period. (Or, to put it another way, $4,800 dollars per cow per year!) Even if the benefits of the project spread beyond the farmers involved this seems like very poor development bang for our aid buck. Coincidentally, the same news report also states that:

“[New Zealand’s] largest company, Fonterra, controls almost one-third of the international dairy trade, and recently appointed a permanent country manager for Myanmar to help the Group explore the potential opportunities amongst Myanmar’s untapped market of some 60 million people. Popular New Zealand dairy brands such as Fonterra’s flagship Anchor brand of butter line the shelves of Yangon’s supermarkets and as the purchasing power of Myanmar’s consumer market increases, New Zealand can expect demand for its high quality calcium-rich dairy products to grow.”

Now possibly the numbers are wrong in the news report, and/or perhaps the project is better founded than it appears (we’ve sent in an OIA for scoping documents) but it is hard not to look at this aid project and its overlap with our business interests, and conclude that the real intended beneficiary of our aid dollars is the New Zealand dairy industry. We will let you know should we find out more.

Report on the private sector in development

On the subject of the private sector and development, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and the North South Institute have what looks to be an excellent report (pdf of report here, you can read a blog post on the report here from Oxfam Great Britain) on bilateral aid programme approaches to engaging with the private sector. The report analyses the engagement with the private of most of the OECD DAC donors, including New Zealand, and amongst other things has a thoughtful set of recommendations, many of which seem pertinent given the all too apparent risks associated with the increased focus of New Zealand aid on the private sector.

Outcomes of the first NZ government aid programme Partnerships for International Development Fund
Funding results are in from the first round of the NZ aid programmes Partnerships for International Development Fund (PFID). Readers will recall that, once upon a time, the aid programme had a discrete contestable funding pool through which NZ NGOs could attain funding for development projects. There was a separate funding allocation for NZ government departments (and related entities) doing development work in eligible countries. These two funding pools are now combined in the form of PFID, with the additional twist being that for profit private sector entities can also apply for funding for development work. In the case of private sector applicants this would appear to have to be not for profit type work, although how this is determined and policed is hazy. The aid programme has an excellent set of charts (pdf) on its website showing how the fund was allocated, with a breakdown of allocation by applicant type on page 4.

61 per cent of the fund was committed to NGO projects, 32 per cent to the state sector, and 7 per cent to private for-profit organisations. This is reassuring in the sense that NGOs do not yet appear to be being crowded out of the funding pool by organisations which one would expect to have far less relevant development experience. The Council for International Development has calculated that 33 per cent of NGO applications were successful, 15 per cent of university/polytech applications were succesful, 15 per cent of private sector applications were successful. 40 per cent of Crown Research Institute applications were successful and 0 per cent of Government Agency applications were successful.

The sad tale of Australian aid being used to fund refugee detention centres

Meanwhile, in Australia the Gillard Government has decided to allocate money from its aid spend to help fund refugee processing in Australia. This will effectively mean cuts to the amount of real aid that the Australian government delivers. ANU’s Development Policy Centre has two excellent blog posts (here and here) analysing the ramifications of this.

Want to work in development
If you’ve read through the above and still want to work in development, also worth reading is the Development Policy Centre’s excellent recent discussion paper on starting a career in development work. You can read a summary blog post of it here, which links to the paper itself. It’s a very helpful resource, particularly for students.

That’s all for this update. Stay tuned for the next update in which we’ll keep an eye on the cows, provide some comment on the New Zealand government aid programme’s new overarching strategic plan (pdf), and release a new NZADDs commentary paper on stability in the New Zealand aid programme.

Have a good week.

Terence – for the NZADDs admin team.