Facilities can deliver aid effectiveness
By Colin Adams
I have followed with interest the debate around facilities over the past year. The facilities model has come under considerable scrutiny, and for good reason. Facilities are an important way in which Australian aid is delivered and, as with any development model, they deserve rigorous evaluation.
But do they deserve the negative hype?
Issues tend to become conflated in discussions around facilities and this, I believe, hinders clarity around what they actually are and what they can achieve.
The 2018 Australian Aid Stakeholder Survey is a telling example of this. The results showed that there continues to be mixed feelings on the effectiveness of facilities, with the majority of respondents from the non-managing contracting community taking a less-than-favourable view of facilities. This should be unpacked by those of us who manage facilities.
Under certain circumstances, facilities are the right modality for delivering aid. I say this with confidence as Cardno manages a number of facilities on behalf of the Australian government in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. So we have seen what facilities can achieve in complex environments and how they can address multifaceted development problems.
This is not to say that managing facilities is easy, or that there isn’t room for substantial improvement. But more on this later.
Facilities bring aid programs or activities that would otherwise be managed separately, under one organisational banner. In addition to efficiency gains, this brings other advantages; having many small programs to manage is an administrative burden for the donor and a burden on national government agencies and communities who must deal independently with each program. This model also allows the Australian government to achieve consistent policy across several programs.
Broadly, there are two types of facilities. The first generates efficiencies via enabling facilities, which allocate resources more efficiently, thereby allowing DFAT staff to focus on …read more