Traffic lights, Development agencies and track record

15th May 2015 | Posted in Latest News, Nigel's Blog

Land Rover gear box still broken so Ian headed to work on fixing it and we find a taxi. They have a law saying only 2 can ride in the back. Into the traffic jams of Freetown. How often do we get frustrated at traffic lights? After being in a town with no traffic lights you learn to appreciate them!

Made the first meeting with the Africa Development Bank. This was very encouraging as they welcomed our proposals, noting again that housing was low in government priorities and they would be interested in how they can help us. They have trust funds that sometimes call for proposals on Urban development that we can apply for when they arise. They shortly have a team coming to town to look at what their priorities should be and invited us to join them in the brainstorming, so Katherine will be able to meet, learn and contribute.

Then to World Bank appointment but the man we were meeting with is out of town! Rearranged for next week.

Then to meet our Planning friends at Freetown City Council. They had not taken anything forward since my last meeting but learned some key things.

  • That they will really not engage until we have already delivered something in country.  They want to see a track record.
  • That they have great reports but the Council has not formally adopted them
  • That they have set a pilot to build 40 low cost homes in 2 isolated areas and agreed to spend 500 million Leones (£65,000) as an experiment. We asked to see plans again as the amount per house seems low and it was not clear what was expected.
  • That all the expensive EU consultants at 1,000 Euros a day brought a number challenges but now that programme was over he was left on his own, with negligible resources to work on planning.

Whilst we take a few steps forward, each time we learn the complexities of doing business in Sierra Leone. One realises how much the international aid and development industry sustains itself. Large amounts of money in discrete packets, writing reports, conferences, recommendations yet the practical results seem to me to be so often missing.

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