Three years of reporting on AMREF’s development work in Katine, Uganda has come to a close, as the Guardian concludes the findings of its experiment in NGO and media transparency.
In 2007, the Guardian chose the village of Katine as the focus of tracking where donor funds went to in development projects. Every action of AMREF’s, the African health organisation, encompassing health, education, water & sanitation, governance, agriculture and livelihoods, was followed by journalists, who reported back on the Katine site. Funds were donated by Guardian readers, which were then matched by up to £1 million by Barclays.
As an example of a partnership between public and private sectors and civil society and media, the project has been a huge success. At an event concluding the project this week, Director General of AMREF, Dr. Teguest Guerma, said that Katine is “not only about holistic approaches to development, it is also about partnership” and that AMREF have learned that they can do development with the private sector and the media.
For Barclays, this project has spurred them on to scale up their efforts, and they are now involved in 11 other development projects around the world, totaling at £10 million in funds.
For the village, AMREF have helped set up 68 farmer groups, comprising 1842 members, of which 1248 are women. Over 200 acres of drought-resistant high yielding cassava has been introduced to farmers, amongst other successes.
Alison Evans, Director of the Overseas Development Institute, who spoke on the panel, commented that a significant trend was emerging, that of seeing the words ‘Africa’ and ‘success’ in the same sentence.
Yet whilst Katine has offered positive results, Evans noted that this was not a model to be scaled up, rather a model from which lessons could be taken. She noted that not all institutions are developmental. Whilst the focus is on the local, she said there was a danger of replicating other institutions, national ones, needlessly. She pointed out that the national and regional institutions are able to take the general, to the local.
Another key message from the talk was that development is a process with ups and downs, and consequently results are not a single event, but also a process. Governments trying to get quick results to prove success can be dangerous, leading development organisations to seek quick wins in order to meet demands set upon them. Instead, the panelist urged, sustainable development should be prioritised.
Photo Credit: Guardian