Saturday, June 7, 2008

Community Consultative Process close-up, 7.000.000,00 meticais!!!!!

There’s a centrally funded project where the government gives 7 million meticais to each district in order to run its own savings and loan type scheme with soliciting of proposals for rural development projects to be funded and then awarding funds as a loan to be paid back in x time. Thanks to Philip and his contacts, I was invited to attend the meeting for my district of Govuro where they decided where to give part 2 of this year’s loan money, 3.500.000,00 meticais, roughly $140,000.00US. The meeting lasted from 9am to about 8pm. Actually it started 10 or 10:30 when the District Administrator showed up fashionable late as usual. This was very interesting for me to see. The District Advisory Council which decides the grants is made up of important types from all over the district, including ex-military soldiers dressed in their uniforms even though the war ended long ago, and old guys and other random important people. I was surprised at how well they discussed and stewarded the funds but in the end they caved and gave the bulk of the money to where the head honcho people wanted it to go. The conflicts of interest were RAMPANT. Also, the “Technical Committee” picked a short list of about 15 proposals out of 120 and the rest of the District Advisory Committee essentially only discussed the short list. The rest of the proposals got a hearing that consisted of hearing the name of the person requesting and a categorical description of the project and amount requested. “John Doe. Fishing. 150.000,00Mts. Application DOA” after all that hard work. But this naming of names makes sense because they don’t have the resources to chase people down if someone uproots themselves and takes off with the money. So they make sure that someone in the committee can vouch for the identity and character of the person requesting the money. This process was interesting for me because the Mozambican Land Law allows for community ownership of land and thus relies on community leaders to do the negotiations with foreign investors interested in developing on the community land. Quite an investor’s nightmare since it ought to take so long, I think, but it does mean that the local community gets to benefit from the use of their land resources, which is only fair.

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