Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Development trials

Ever wondered what happens to the pilot rural development projects years after they end? Having worked in the field for 20 years I know that they dissolve and disappear, but I have not seen any studies to show that. This article in al akhbar is of course not a study, but it is not bad as a start: the writer went to villages in Akkar 12 years after Mercy Corps, funded with USAID money, had introduced pilot methane production at household level. I remember this project very well because at the time I had friends working with Mercy Corps who had told me about it. I think methane digesters are a great idea, and I know that there are many places in the world where they are routinely used. The article report that the ones that had been installed in Akkar had been quickly abandoned, even though they had functioned reasonably well. Among the reasons for the failure: high maintenance requirement. The local people complained also that the "pilot" projects are unfair are the beneficiaries are a few people selected from the community, while most of the others get nothing.

Incidentally, I have worked last year with an Italian aid agency offering gray water treatment installations in South Lebanon, and I have a former student working on the evaluation of a similar project in the Bekaa, and in both places, the complaints are the same: maintenance requirements and selectivity of the beneficiaries. In any case, I guess the only real beneficiaries are the implementing agencies and their staff.

No comments: