Nicholson says aid program ‘full of process’

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 06 August 2018, 12:00AM

The implementation of New Zealand’s aid programme is ‘full of process’ and takes too long to implement.

The lack of local context in the implementation of aid programmes also contribute to their demise. 

Former New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, David Nicholson, said this in an exclusive interview with the Samoa Observer, when discussing the highlights and the challenges of his 19 months stint as New Zealand’s top diplomat.

“Pacific Competence is very important. I believe we can have a lot more delegated to the post to do in terms of information of aid programmes - there’s too much implementation trickling in from Wellington,” he said.

“Context is everything, when people talk about the Pacific in Wellington, they use a generic noun and as you know, you go to different Pacific countries and they are all very different. Understanding the difference and that context means that your approach will be very different and varied. You might have development policy, take in the Pacific for example. But it’s never quite right in any one place and it’s like in New Zealand, you develop a policy that will fit Auckland but not the east coast.”

Mr. Nicholson, who previously worked as director for the Pacific division within the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade prior to his appointment as high commissioner to Samoa, said the implementation of the New Zealand aid programme is hampered by processes. 

“What I have seen here is that our aid process is full of process and it takes a long time to get through to implementation. The good thing about our implementation is we are focused on quality to do a good job, but I would like to us get the job done faster.”

Lamenting the absence of local context in the implementation of aid programmes, Mr. Nicholson said the risk management of projects is good but it will still fail as there was no local context.

“A lot of the process has to do with risk management but if you look across the aid programme – a lot of things fail. And it doesn’t matter how much process or risk management you took into account, they failed and part of that is because they haven’t taken the local context into account.”

Describing his relationship with the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers as a ‘very easy relationship’, Mr. Nicholson said he believed strongly in establishing ‘development effectiveness’ through dialogue and communication with the local partner. 

“I’ve had a very easy relationship with the Prime minister and the government ministers and that’s with access to decision makers and leaders have been very straightforward and very productive, I believe in the principles of development effectiveness you talk to the local partner about what it is they want to lead and how you can help and I rallied against those aspects of the programme where New Zealand makes decisions and implements them in Samoa.”

The former High Commissioner flew out of Samoa at the weekend to bring to an end a 19-month posting. The New Zealand government in May this year announced its Pacific Reset Policy, which will see NZ$714 million in aid going to the region including Samoa over the next four years.

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 06 August 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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