31 May 2010

What right do I have? Expatriates working in good governance in #Tanzania

Daraja is a Tanzanian organisation, with a 100% Tanzanian board of directors*, but we have some non-Tanzanian staff. And we work in accountability, a field which seems more closely related to politics than would be the case if we were delivering health, education or water supply services. Several times we have been asked what right we expatriate staff members have to be doing this. I also came across a recent blog post by Owen Barder, answering a related question about his unwillingness to blog about Ethiopian politics.

29 May 2010

A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations: brief thoughts on a week in Dar

One of the challenges of basing an ambitious and innovative organisation like Daraja in Njombe is the risk of becoming disconnected from networks and discussions that take place during the coffee breaks of important meetings. I personally am very glad to be able to avoid attending so many meetings that take up so much time and often achieve very little, but sometimes there is little alternative to face-to-face contact as a way of getting things done.

So having spent most of the last week in Dar es Salaam, a week packed with meetings, presentations and a "learning cafe" (not entirely sure that this was anything other than a workshop for people who officially disapprove of workshops), what's been learned from the opportunity?

22 May 2010

Getting the best out of people: performance incentives for NGOs in #Tanzania

I've been working for NGOs in Tanzania for long enough to know that staff aren't always as hard working and motivated as their bosses (and donors) would like. Many NGO staff get powerful motivation from the work they are doing for the benefit of others, but that's not true of everyone. And even the most dedicated staff have ups and downs, not always working to their full potential.

16 May 2010

Lessons for job seekers in #Tanzania

We've just completed three days of recruitment, looking mainly for staff to deliver our forthcoming local newspaper. A tiring week, but - fingers crossed - one that has produced results. As before, we went for an innovative approach, putting the applicants in two groups and challenging them to produce a four page local newspaper in two days. As you would expect, the finished product was not as neat and tidy as a professionally produced paper, but for teams that had only just met each other, it was a pretty good effort.

I can't say anything about particular applicants, since we haven't yet made our final decisions about job offers, but I can make a few general comments that might well be useful to young job seekers in Tanzania. Some of it may seem obvious, but apparently not to everyone!

11 May 2010

The secret to good research in #Tanzania? KISS and tell!

No, I am not making a point about building rapport with interviewees. (That would be taking things much too far.) But there is a useful lesson to be learnt from some fascinating recent research by the Centre for Economic Prosperity in Tanzania. They conducted a very simple study of lorry drivers on three routes between Dar es Salaam and the regions, collecting data on how many times they stopped, for what reason, and whether they had to pay any bribes.

The results are interesting. For example, 90% of times a truck is stopped by the police, a bribe is paid. And the average bribe is 1,272 shillings, resulting in a total "bribe-price" of 6,000-8,000 shillings per trip.

But my point is more about the research methods than about their findings.

3 May 2010

#Fuatilia! Social media as a tool to monitoring #Tanzania's Constituency Development Catalyst Fund.

Facebook has over 100,000 users in Tanzania, up nearly 25% in just the last 6 months. It might be less than 1% of the population, but it is around 20% of all internet users in Tanzania and it still makes Tanzania one of the fastest growing countries in terms of facebook. I've noticed several Tanzania-specific adverts on facebook recently, evidence that the private sector thinks facebook has now reached critical mass in Tanzania.

And while employers everywhere complain about staff "wasting time" on facebook and other social networking sites, it has a potentially very positive side as well. Just as Daraja is exploring how social networks can be used as a tool for increasing public accountability, so facebook was today suggested as a platform for citizen monitoring  of Tanzania's controversial and recently established Constituency Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF). Where was this suggestion made? On facebook, of course. It was made in response to a post by Zitto Kabwe, who must surely be the Tanzanian with the most "friends" on facebook - almost 5,000.

Mvumilivu hula mbovu! If you don't ask then you don't get.

A new cartoon, still sticky with wet paint. More to come shortly.    

 - wake him up and ask him why he's forgotten about water services.
 - even you have a mouth, you ask him.
 - if you're also scared, let's leave him to sleep.