Today is a sad day for me. I am very much looking forward to getting back to Amanda and to Brighton, but leaving Ethiopia is hard. I’ve had a great time. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve got to know some wonderful people, including friends and colleagues at the Embassy. I’m pleased with the work that I’ve done on accountabilities and aid, on social accountability, on peace and development, on gender and politics, on public sector capacity building, and on public financial management. Some of it might make a difference. But leaving is hard.
In the aftermath of the election in Ethiopia – elections that resulted in a landslide victory for the ruling EPRDF party – outsiders such as the UK Government or Human Rights Watch are being told, on the one hand, by the EPRDF, to keep their uninformed opinions to themselves, and, on the other, by the opposition parties, and no doubt by citizens in the developed world, to say what they think about the elections/electoral process.
Election day in Ethiopia seems like a good day to break my self-imposed ban on blogging about aid and politics and begin to share my reflections about the relationship between the two in Ethiopia.
With elections here tomorrow, what should a governance adviser do? Probably not take 3 days off to go travelling. However, with my time in Ethiopia drawing rapidly to a close, I was keen to see a bit more of the country beyond Addis. So, armed with my special pass which is needed in the election period for foreigners wanting to travel out of Addis, I set off.
My time in Addis is coming to an end. My replacement – Ahmed – has already started. Employing me was always only a temporary measure, which makes sense. I’ve had a great time. I’ve learned a lot and have been able to make a useful contribution to things (and I wasn’t 100% sure that I would), but Ahmed probably had a better understanding of Ethiopian politics and governance at the age of 12 than I do now, and that might be doing him a dis-service! There is a place for outsiders to share their perspectives and experience in relation to governance in developing countries (for me, for a while at least, that place is going to be the UK), but you can’t beat local knowledge.
Decisions about what to do career-wise are seldom easy. My time with DFID Ethiopia comes to an end at the end of May. It’s been great. I did have a job to go back to at ODI, but I’ve decided not to take that option.
There are a number of factors to consider, some of which don’t feature below despite being particularly important (Hello Amanda!), and time-scales to play with. I’ve come up with criteria, scoring systems and weighting systems that are too embarrassing for public consumption. However, I thought it would be good to get some advice from the friends and colleagues and fellow development wonks who occasionally have a look at my blog. Continue reading
I decided to take advantage of the long Easter weekend – not as long as it might be because while DFID has a holiday today, the Government of Ethiopia does not – and embark on a Journey to the East, to Harar, a city about 500km from Addis Ababa towards Djibouti, Somalia and Somaliland.
There are lots of problems with development assistance. One of them is that people like me don’t really know what we’re doing, but pretend that we do. Or more specifically, that we rarely make explicit why we think that what we are doing will lead to the results that are hoped for.
My thinking on this has been stimulated by David Roodman of the Center for Global Development. David is in the process of writing a book about micro-finance and posed a question about definitions of development.
I’m not going to comment on the recent stories about the possible diversion of aid to Ethiopia in the 1980s to buy arms, but readers might want to have a listen to three recent pieces about the country, and the UK’s aid relationship with the country, on the BBC’s World Tonight over the last couple of weeks.