Shared by: Gilles Sassine , Development Innovation Network Lead - Konbit, Papyrus, Haiti
In Haiti, companies struggle to compete for large internationally funded projects due to local project implementation barriers to the detriment of local actors and funders alike: local companies lack the systems to take on larger projects, which are subsequently awarded to foreign implementers at a higher cost, with significantly less money circulating in the local economy, and limited opportunities for local capacity development.
This situation creates a vicious cycle where the local eco-system incurs two major losses:
- a high percentage of development funds are charged as overhead and therefore not spent in-country. Local companies are hired as subcontractors, many times with subpar gains in terms of funds and capacity development.
- While there are increased efforts on the part of international implementers to share and impart knowledge, it is not always carried out. Many programs end up paying for the same data sets because information is not shared, and local actors cannot build on their past experiences to improve their operations.
To break this cycle, organizations must constantly improve their technical and administrative capabilities such that they can both compete against each other for relatively smaller projects and work in partnership for larger bids, thereby constantly increasing the scale and complexity of projects that can be locally implemented.
Local development partners, private and public, do not have a sufficiently influential and unified voice in programs design. This leads to waste due to lack of communication and a duplication of efforts, as was seen following the 2010 earthquake.
Furthermore, the lack of a shared knowledge base leads to repeated mistakes and stifled growth. Local service providers have little means to learn from international entities in order to play a significant role in the development of their own country.
USAID-Haiti has invested in Local Solutions through its Konbit project awarded in 2015.
Konbit’s goal is to increase the number of local development partners influencing and achieving significant and sustainable development results in Haiti, accountable to their constituents and able to effectively compete for and manage resources. The project has already launched an online platform (Konbit.ht) that aims to improve access to networks, markets, and information.
In order to make this effort truly sustainable, the donor community, national and international governments, and the private sector at large should collaborate on two fronts:
Use technology to connect existing online platforms in order to openly share data collected through implemented programs. This would reduce duplication of effort as well as mistakes made due to lack of information. By creating a data driven decision making environment, efforts will have a greater impact and reduce the need for aid.
Create a Systems Thinking Framework that promotes standards. This will reduce the need for international entities to execute projects in Haiti, resulting in increased funds and knowledge in country. Ultimately, the Haitian community will be in a better position to determine its own development.
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