April NZADDs Info-Update

Welcome to our April email update. Information on the updates and subscription options can be found at the bottom of this email.

The Bouncing Balls of New Zealand Aid

Most of you will be familiar with the charts of Gap Minder, in which moving data balls illustrate changing human development trends. Here at NZADDs Labs we’ve emulated this, creating charts that show New Zealand aid volumes to different countries and sectors over time. Once you’ve got the hang of the charts they do a pretty good job of showing aid volatility in action, the power of circumstance (Iraq, Afghanistan and natural disasters) and the waxing and waning fortunes of various sectors of interest. You can play and adjust the charts here.

If you have any problems or questions please let us know.

First Ever NZADDs OIA about Cows!
In our February update we reported on a New Zealand government aid project in Burma which sounded very dubious: aid for a herd of incredibly expensive cows. We subsequently OIAed the scoping documents on it. And these have now been provided to us (thank you!). You can read them here. Our preliminary based on a skim read is as despondent as our original assessment. If you have time to read, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

NZ Aid in the News
There has been a flurry of articles about NZ aid lately. In ‘Mad at New Zealand’ Pacific Islands Business reported on the displeasure some Pacific Island leaders purportedly feel towards New Zealand’s MFAT. Animosity apparently stemming in particular from the handling of entities such as the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat. We’ve placed an Official Information Act request with the New Zealand Prime Minister for the letter one angry Pacific leader supposedly sent him (reported on in the article). If we get it and if we’re able to, we will share it with you.

Also, in a RNZI interview, Pacific Islands Association of NGO’s Emele Duituturanga said many Pacific civil society groups felt confused as to NZ Aid’s approach, while Tongan opposition MP Dr. Sitiveni Halapua suggested that more New Zealand aid needed to go to non-government organisations. Meanwhile, back in New Zealand, Oxfam’s Barry Coates cautioned against myopically focusing aid on economic development, and against top-down approaches. Meanwhile academic (and NZADDs Steering Group Member) John Overton interviewed by RNZI also expressed concern that the Aid Programme lacked clarity in what it is trying to achieve.
And, according to Radio New Zealand our aid spend to February was $96 million NZD less than expected. This is a very large underspend: about one fifth of the total annual aid budget. We wonder, but are not sure, whether this underspend is to do with the new fund for ‘transformational’ projects reported on page 15 of this pdf. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.
Arms Treaty, Killer Robots, and the Welfare of Development Workers
In more heartening news, thanks to the work of campaigners the world now has an international arms treaty. Also on arms work, Wellingtonian and veteran campaigner Mary Wareham was interviewed by Kim Hill on military robots. Definitely worth a listen. The link’s here (after next Saturday you’ll have to choose 27 April to hear it). Those interested in aid and the lives of aid workers may also want to listen to Marianne Elliott’s Radio New Zealand interview with aid worker Amanda Scothern on taking care of yourself while doing aid work: here.
Pod-Cast Stories on Afghanistan and Aid in Bamiyan
You can also listen to Marianne Elliot’s Radio New Zealand interviews on New Zealand, aid and tourism in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, links: herehere and here. Marianne’s most recent story, ‘Return of the Silent Years‘ records Afghans’ concerns regarding the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Changes at the Top of the Aid Programme
Most of you will already know this by now but the head of the New Zealand Government Aid Programme Amanda Ellis has (ostensibly temporarily) taken on a job as New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva. While she is at the UN Craig Hawke will be acting in her stead. Congratulations to both Amanda and Craig on their new appointments.
In Memoriam
As you all probably know Victoria University academic and well known member of the New Zealand development community Ray Goldstein passed away recently. Both Jo and I fondly remember Ray as a teacher and colleague. And we know we’re not the only ones who were very sad to hear of his passing. His influence will certainly live on though through all the people he has taught and mentored over the years who are now working in development. Thank you Ray.