By T, Staffer of De Birhan Media
The Rural Capacity Building Project (RCBP) a Project run by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD), launched with the loan from the World Bank, and jointly financed by the Canadian International Development Agency to assist Ethiopian rural development will cease tomorrow, October 31, 2011. The Project was started in 2006 with the objective of strengthening agricultural services and systems to make them more responsive to client needs. The World Bank estimates the total project cost to be over US$ 71 million. The major components of the Project are:
1) Capacity building for Agriculture Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET).
2) Capacity Building and support for Agricultural Extension systems
3) Agricultural Research
4) Improving information and communication system within MOARD
5) Development of Agricultural Market Intuitions
This and similar kinds of Projects funded by the Bank with the aim of reducing poverty or for food security purposes have often been criticised for failing to meet their targets. The targets were unachieved mainly due to the politicisation and corruption of the funds by the main implementing body that is, the Ethiopian government. The RCBP, one of these many WB funded projects in rural development areas, is another Project that just completed without any tangible progress i.e. achieving food security or rural development, in the opinion of this writer. Ethiopia with this many funds and projects in place still begs the world for more food aid and assistance to its framers who nominally have been “benefiting from these agricultural and rural development projects”.
Sequence 11 of the Implementation Status Results Report of the Bank published in May 2011 (here) states that the Overall Implementation Progress (IP) of the RCBP was Moderately Satisfactory. This writer also acknowledges the level of progress seen in training more Ethiopian rural development scholars in merited Western Universities. However, the same Report states
Implementation progress over the last six months is mixed (before May 2011). Disbursement continues to be high relative to earlier years, particularly on Components 2 and 3 (Strengthening Agricultural Extension Services and Enhancing Institutional Capacity of the Agricultural Research System) which constitute the bulk of the Project but other Components are delayed, some seriously. Furthermore, some key weaknesses are observed in financial management and procurement; and, land for the construction of a Livestock Quarantine Station previously used by 12 households has been acquired without a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP).
For instance, one of the major components of the Project, agricultural extension has been one of the areas identified by researchers as a component that lacked improvements and was full of challenges such as a client-oriented extension system than being client-driven, lack of cooperation between farmers and extensionists and political roles of the extension workers.
The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum, a.k.a. Medrek, in its press statement last week accused the Ethiopian government of using its Development Agents and Extension Workers for political and spying purposes disabling the social capital, fabric, and trust at the grassroots.
In 2005, the World Bank and other donors suspended direct budget support to the Ethiopian government following a post-election crackdown but aid was soon resumed under a new program, “Protection of Basic Services” that channelled money directly to district governments.
On a recent investigative report conducted by Human Rights Watch (HRW) entitled “Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia,” a World Bank staff member was quoted as saying “Which state are we building and how? It could be that we are building the capacity of the state to control and repress.” With the knowledge of the misuse of aid for corrupt and political purposes , channelling the fund through the regime is farcical.