The development sector is made up of thousands of individuals and organisations striving to eliminate poverty throughout the world. Unfortunately though, development is often marred by competition and duplication that can undermine all good intentions and render the provision of international aid inadequate.
While working in Cambodia I observed on-the-ground competition for funding, limited communication between NGOs, and the daily survival techniques mustered up by NGOs just to keep their doors open. Most NGOs have to be in direct contact with potential donors and funding providers as there are few representative bodies advocating on the behalf of their areas of interest and projects. As a result, NGOs have to advocate for themselves and are often at the bequest of donors- some amending their mandates according to how donors direct funds. Because of individual advocacy and a lack of overarching representation, there is often doubling-up of activities across the various development sectors. Outreach activities, trainings, investigations, data collection- everything has some degree of duplication and can regularly fall short of empowering any of the recipients.
Since working at Vision 2020 Australia I have been involved in the Global Consortium. In contrast to my experiences in Cambodia, the Global Consortium provides an avenue of open dialogue for those with a vested interest in eliminating avoidable blindness and vision loss in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. It is clear that working in partnership allows NGOs to better focus on projects and on-the-ground activities.
Actions are being harmonized through the Global Consortium because of regular meetings in person, teleconferences, email correspondence and phone calls between the nine Australian member organisations- a demonstration of ground breaking collaboration. Budgets are being distributed throughout the Consortium with a clear break down of an organisation’s proposed activities in a particular country. The budgets are then conscientiously deliberated by all member organisations to ensure the best in-country method can be adopted so as funding is utilised in the most effective manner. Member organisations share past experiences, specialised knowledge, resources and contacts so as the best result can be obtained for the country in which they work.
This strict focus on the benefit of the recipient country as opposed to the individual success of the organisation is how the development sector should operate, but is so often restricted from doing so. Vision 2020 Australia and the Global Consortium are effectively eliminating competition and duplication so that collaboration and team work prevail to guarantee the successful provision of aid services. Ideally this model will be somewhat adopted by other sectors to allow for proper representation and harmonisation of aid provision throughout the region.