Green Book

My trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, November & December 2010 & January 2011

January 2011

Back again at the Hotel De castle; it looks like I have spent more time here in the past 3 months than at home.

The original brief was to develop a Sustainability Plan for the organization. However, most managers confuse it with Resource Mobilization / Fund Raising Plans. Typically a Sustainability Plan involves a risk analysis of the organization comprising of Board, Executive Leadership, Resource Audits (Man, Money, Material & Technology / knowledge), HR, ICT, Finance and other support services systems audits plus a host of other environmental issues.

I cleared up this confusion and came to develop a Resource Mobilization Plan (Only Money); however, the team has not completed the budgets. So have to delay the process by a few days. Meanwhile I witnessed riots in Dhaka due to stock market crash yesterday. Stock price manipulation rings were very active in DSE over the past year and sent the stock prices way up beyond the wildest PE ratios possible for some companies. Just like what’s happening at the CSE in Sri Lanka. Most stocks trade much higher than PE ratio. Is this a prelude to what we can expect in the streets of Colombo I wonder?

Finally managed to develop the RM Plan for the organization; this is the end of the assignment for me and look forward to going back to Colombo.

December 2010

It’s good to be back in Dhaka and at the Hotel De Castle. Guess what its Harthal season again! I was in Bangladesh in 2006 and in 2008 for the then famous Harthal “Save Democracy” which was a success in overthrowing the elected government and appointing a caretaker government. However, during Harthal the general public and the visitors to Bangladesh suffers by having severe restrictions in free movement. I will spend 2 weeks in Dhaka for this assignment with the intention of developing the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies of the organization.

It was hard work but managed to develop the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies for the organization. During this process there was a one day Harthal, but it seems to have been a flop! What’s going on here, have the people finally realized not to go on Hartal for silly things? Well, we will just have to wait and see.

As part of the assignment I had to help the management team present the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies to the board and get their comments and final approval. However there is an issue. The issue is that; the roles and responsibilities of governance and the executive branches of the organization are not clearly delineated to ensure efficient operations. In short there is a power struggle between the two. I have to manage this delicate process; otherwise all hell may break loose during the meeting and true to form, the consultant will be the fall guy.

You can read my article titled “Governance – Do we need to build capacity?” published in http://capacitydevelopment.ning.com/

The meeting with the board went off without any major hiccups and got the necessary approvals and consent for the next stage of the assignment.

November 2010

The assignment I undertook was to develop a new Vision, Mission, Values, Strategies and a corresponding Resource Mobilization plan and support services (Finance HR & IT) plans for Acid Survivors Foundation ASF http://www.acidsurvivors.org/ of Bangladesh. I will be staying at the Hotel De castle in Banani, Dhaka.

I must say that I was quite shocked at the number of people being attacked in Bangladesh and the physical and psychological damage it does to people. The major cause of attacks was economic (Dowry & Land). Given the poverty levels in Bangladesh I must say that I am not surprised. Having enough resources to go around for 160 + Million people is not a joke.

The irony is that at the United Nations (Put UN Web Site) review of the Millennium Development Goals (Put MDG review results Web Site) it was concluded that mot poor countries (including Bangladesh) were failing miserably in trying to reach the MGD’s. In my Humble opinion this is because most poor countries are not dealing with the white elephant in the room i.e. population growth. This is obviously considered a sensitive subject given the reluctance of politicians to take on the religious establishments head on be it Islam or the many denominations of Christianity. On the contrary this should be the main subject of discussion by far thinking politicians the world over.

For instance if Bangladesh were to implement strict policies to have ZERO growth in population for the next 10 years it would develop at a faster rate As even the slightest growth in the nations wealth will be held by a content population. This is common sense.

Most people misunderstand when we talk about zero population growth. They think that you are suggesting that people stop having children. In fact it does not mean that at all. It just means that your birth rate has to be equated to your death rate.

In the case of developing countries; the way that externally funded development sector project are implemented creates further frustrations within a given population and at times directly create political and social unrest. Most development sector professional (from the north countries as well as the south countries) don’t even understand this themselves. Consider the following. Most western donors advocate rights based projects. This means that all citizens will demand equal levels of services from the state irrespective of economic, social, political, ethnic or religious status. This in a developing country means that “now” 10,000 people line up for services as opposed to 1,000 people. The issue is that the rights based development project itself does not have any or enough funding to cater for the newly generated demand. The funds are only available to create and sustain the demand by the citizenry. So now the poor government has to serve a larger number of people with the same or slightly increased budget. This only means that in order to cater for the quantity the quality of services will be compromised. This is OK with the rich citizens as they can afford to pay for services by the private sector or bribe the state employees or use influence to get a better service from the state service provider.

One can argue and say that this is a deliberate attempt by some of the donors to create instability within developing countries. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I wouldn’t put it past some of them. The point is that we who hail from the developing countries must act a lot smarter than we currently do if we want to develop.

As for me the assignment will run in to the New Year and I will have to go to Bangladesh a few more times to finish the assignment.