Saturday, March 6, 2021

Ministry lays P1.6m EU aid to waste

An online database project that the European Union sponsored to the tune of P1.6 million has failed to take off. Worse, no more funds have been committed and some of the data has been lost. This revelation is made by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in its latest report on the economies of the Southern African Development Community. The database was set up by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in 2005 to track the funding of all development assistance in Botswana, as well as planned disbursements.According to EU spokesman, Bester Gabotlale, “a major output was a fully fed and functioning web-based donor database.”

However, the Botswana Development Assistance Management Information System (BODAMIS) never took off. Not too long ago, a task team comprising the United States Agency for International Development, European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and MFDP itself was set up to assess the problems arising from it.

“The task team reported that the system failed to start up and a lot of the data has been lost. While Development Partners recognise the importance of BODAMIS, funding remains a challenge as the initial support from the EU has come to an end. Further discussions among the government and development partners will provide guidance on the way forward,” says the AfDB report. However, from reading information on the MFDP website, one would think that everything is in order.

“The MFDP through European Commission funding has developed a donor database to enhance donor coordination so as to improve the quality of aid and to facilitate the provision of information on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Botswana. This would facilitate the analysis and monitoring of ODA data to see the trend of external assistance to Botswana and the major providers of ODA,” says a statement on the ministry’s website which appears under the headline of “Development Partners Coordination Forum.”

This database was being developed in accordance with the Paris Declaration of 2005 and the Accra Agreement of 2008 on aid effectiveness. MFDP says that “BODAMIS will be used by the Botswana Development Partner Forum to enable coordination and avoid duplication of development partners’ assistance as well as to enable the Government of Botswana to better plan resource allocation using information on the ongoing and planned interventions of its development partners.”

Swaziland is another SADC country that is experiencing problems with its management of donor relations. The Aid Coordination and Monitoring Section in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development is responsible for conducting annual compilation of donor financing to Swaziland. The AfDB report says that despite an improvement in information-gathering with regard to donor activities, little progress has been made on operationalising some of the planned activities.

“In particular, the government has been slow in fulfilling its obligations to ensure that the Agriculture and Food Security Working Group is operationalised. The Ministry of Agriculture, which is supposed to call for a meeting of potential participants in the working group, is still to do so,” the report says.

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