NORAD is a directorate under the Minister for International Develoment Mr Erik Solheim(Photo on the right)>
In the next few days we will bring to readers our investigation results that our journalist investigative service has done on Norwegian Agency for Development – NORAD’s employment policies, procedures, who gets the jobs and will question the fairness in their employment procedures as far as Africans are concerned.
We seek to do the same with other Norwegian departments, Parliament and Municipalities in order to understand what opportunities Africans get in the country.
The aim of African Press in doing the above is to bring to the readers the employment statistics from every department so that it is known how many Africans get fair treatment when it comes to jobs in the country and abroad, for examples if they are given jobs to represent Norway outside the country as expatriates in any field.
The government makes employment policies and they impress upon companies to employ the minority in the society. It is not always followed by companies and private or government institutions. It is important that the policy maker – the government, leads as an example to practice what they preach to others – employ the minority in senior positions and those already employed should be given promotion at a reasonable time to encourage others and become role models for the coming African generation, not only to let them get stuck in one position without promotion year in year out!
NORAD is engaged in projects in Africa and other continents of the world. This is an agency that sends out Norwegians to work in different institutions, some of them following up on how the Norwegian aid is being utilised by receiving countries.
This is a very important thing that an agency representing a country is doing for receiving countries.
However, we question the procedures on how the selections of those to represent the agency abroad is done by NORAD.
We believe that a qualified African can do a good job if not even better in an African setting than an ethnic Norwegian. If NORAD was to send a Norwegian to, for example, Sudan, Ghana or Tanzania, the Norwegian will have to do the best to understand the culture and traditions of the people he or she will work with in the two countries if he or she has to manage to do a good job within the contracted period. Not forgetting that some contracts last for 2 or 4 years, there is not much such a person can do, because one or two years may be used to understand the way a country and the people function.
In Norad’s case we are not yet sure of how many African people are send out of Norway to represent the department and how many are employed at Norad headquarters in Oslo. We will need answers from Norad on these questions so as to let our readers judge how fair the department is towards the African people. We will also want answers from Norad on how many Africans work in the headquarters and how the promotions are done to ensure that they are happy to serve this country whole-heartedly.
Norad has been criticised over the years on how they use the money in developing countries in projects, salaries, cars, housing and leisure.
It is a known fact that most of those who get contracts to represent Norad abroad for 2 to 4 years get rich very quickly because they are paid huge allowances.
Could this be the reason why there may be no Africans being send out of Norway to represent Norad?
Norad workers, for example in Africa, return back from there when their contracts expire and they have enough money to purchase cars and houses without having to take bank loans!
Could this be a good investment for an African also? There is no question there are many Africans who are very qualified living in Norway who could offer their services to Norad.
We have teachers, lecturers, engineers, carpenters, nurses, doctors, accountants, economists, administrators and many other professions that could represent Norad very well if they were given the opportunity to go and work in African countries.
A Nigerian can simply fit in Uganda overseeing a Norad project. A South African can easily fit in Kenya! So why not employ a Nigerian for example and post him to represent Norad because he will not need one year to understand the Ugandans. Why send one ethnic Norwegian from a remote village who has never lived in a town to go and represent Norad in a big city in Africa? First of all, such a person would have a big problem to settle in Oslo where his culture and language is main.
Sending him to settle in a big African city is a punishment because such person will use the first one year to understand the country, and probably 6 months to understand the people before settling down to run the project. If such a person had a two year contract, then the person will work for only the last 6 months. Do we call that producing results and utilising tax payers money well? This questions need answers.
There is one interesting case we will now bring to the knowledge of our readers.
A number of years ago, there was a Norwegian man dispatched by Norad to start a fishing project in Kisumu, Kenya. The man was from the north of Norway. He settled down in Kisumu with his family. After a few months, he had not started anything. He started holding meetings with government representatives in Nairobi, thereafter, other meetings followed in the provincial level and district level. When all meetings were through, 9 months had gone.
The man used most of his time, when not in meetings, to sun-bath with his family.
It took him 9 months to finalise what he wanted because it was difficult for him to understand the people and what the people wanted to give priority. His insistence on priorities made the project wait for another 4 months.
Note that he has already used 12 months of his contract, a full one year gone without achieving anything.
He send reports to Norad headquarters in Norway about what he was doing. Some Norad people from Norway travelled to visit him and join in some of the meetings within that 12 month period.
The man had a 2 year contract and now he had 12 months remaining. He started the project and after 3 months on it, he had to make changes because the fishing nets he had acquired single-handedly without consulting the people who were going to use them did not fit in the projects ambitions.
Look here! He now has 9 months of his contract. He started new meetings to try and re-start the project and after 6 months, no project had been started.
When he realised he only had 3 months of his contract left, he requested Norad headquarters for renewal of his contract but this time not to run the project in Kisumu.
He got a new 3 year contract and was posted to Tanzania to start a project.
Did Kenya benefit from this man? The answer is a big NO. Had Norad send a Ugandan or a Nigerian to Kenya to start that fish project it could have started within 3 months period into the contract. That would have benefited the Kenyan people.
This is one of the examples making African Press to ask questions. We are sure Norad’s leadership understands what we are talking about here, when we say this is a waste of public funds.
We have many examples the same as the above. One interesting project that was started without proper consultations with the Kenyans and without understanding the Kenyan people’s priorities belonged to Danida, the Danish Development Agency. We will report on what happened before and after the project stalled. The Danish man had a project to built a bridge to connect two villages in Nyando area near Kisumu in Kenya. The bridge was swept away by the floods because the Danida man being an “expert as he said” had refused to take heed of the advice given by the Luo elders who new the area well. His project become a disaster of the year.
The Minister for International Development Mr Erik Solheim should do something about this problems. When he was the leader of SV, the Norwegian Socialist Political Party, he was very vocal fighting for change in society and change in public spending. We, therefore, know he understands what we are saying, when we point out that change in policy is required so that African countries getting assistance do not only get such assistance on paper, while the money goes to en-rich the officers who get contracts to work abroad.
A Norwegian lady writes a few thoughts below. She is an expatriate in Africa. Can an African who is a graduate from Ås university, just like her, be able to do a job like this one if the African got the oppotunity, just like the Norwegian lady got, to be given a contract? She writes:>
Welcome to my home page!
Here I will share my experiences and explorations from living and working in Ethiopia for 15 months from May 2004.
I grew up with my parents and one sister in Lørenskog. After high school I decided to move northwards to Tromsø where I studied for three years, before I finished my studies at the Agricultural University of Norway (NLH) in Ås. After graduating, I have been working in a cabin for hikers and skiers in Jotunheimen (Fondsbu), and as a volunteer and assistant in the Development Fund (Utviklingsfondet) in Oslo.VOLUNTEER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
For 17 months from March 2004 I am a participant in the Fredskorpset programme “Volunteers for Sustainable Development” (VSD). This is an exchange programme between three Norwegian partners and six partners in Africa, Asia and Latin-America. All the VSD partners work towards increased food security of poor and marginalized communities in the south, with special emphasis on sustainable natural resource management. My home partner is the Development Fund, in co-operation with Noragric at NLH and the Research Institute and National Center for Ecological Agriculture (Norsøk). My host partner is the organization Relief Society of Tigray (REST) in Mekelle, Ethiopia. There I am going to stay for 15 months, working towards increased food production through soil and water conservation projects.” end quote.
African Press will follow up on this story in a few days to come, by discussing promotion procedures in Norad, in an effort to know how many Africans work there and how many have been given promotions in the past years or those lined up for promotions in the near future.
By Korir, African Press in Norway, APN.