Scheme providing economists to developing Commonwealth countries wins Worldaware award
The Overseas Development Institute Fellowship Scheme is celebrating the beginning of its fortieth year of enabling young postgraduate economists to work in the public sectors of developing countries by winning the Worldaware Award for Capacity Building in the Commonwealth, sponsored by the DTI.
The Worldaware Business Awards, now in their 14th year, recognise projects that have contributed to the development of poorer countries through innovative and sustainable commercial activities. The DTI Award is given to a private or public organisation working in the developing Commonwealth, which has enhanced its own or others' ability to participate in international trade.
"International trade is, and has been, the engine of growth of so many poor and small developing countries, and it is most welcome that the DTI, with this award, is firmly supporting the sort of globalisation which helps to address the unfairnesses in the world economy by empowering under-resourced governments," says Adrian Hewitt, Director of the Fellowship Scheme. "The presentation of the DTI Worldaware award to the ODI Fellowship Scheme gives recognition to a lean, efficient, purposeful and utterly modern partnership which is carefully tailored to developing country needs. It is the future of technical assistance."
A French development expert who evaluated the scheme in 2002 said that overseas governments appreciate ODI Fellows for their enthusiasm, technical skills, loyalty and open-mindedness and because they are members of staff, not foreign consultants. The scheme provides high-calibre staff at junior professional level. Governments want more: and more governments are seeking to join the scheme.
Civil services need to be strengthened if governments are to fight poverty effectively. Most Fellows are concerned with this in some degree. The plight of the public service in Africa, depleted by pay freezes and Aids, makes their work there crucial. The Malawi government service has about 50 per cent vacancies.
There are at present a record 56 Fellows (about half of them women) in 19 Commonwealth developing countries, plus Rwanda. Many of them did their Masters degrees at LSE, SOAS or Oxford and, as well as Britons and other Europeans,. This year also includes an Angolan, a Jamaican, an Indian and a Chilean.
Overseas governments pay the local rate for the job, which is often only a few hundred pounds a month, and ODI makes this up to a modest salary of £18,000-£19,000 a year. Adrian Hewitt, who was himself a fellow in Malawi in 1974-6, points out that this salary is for highly motivated people with two economics degrees who could otherwise be bond traders in the City.
The ODI is a research institute concerned with policies to help the world's poor become richer. It began its Fellowship Scheme with the help of the Nuffield Foundation in 1963. Now the Department for International Development is the main funder, and the Commonwealth Secretariat finances fellowships in trade policy (currently in the Pacific). The total number of those who have served in the scheme is now approaching 600 and include Britain's current Cabinet Secretary and the Head of DFID itself.
For further information:
Overseas Development Institute: Adrian Hewitt 020 7922 0365
Worldaware: Helen Triggs 020 7603 8574 Sally Canty 02380 283255
Note to editors
Worldaware is a UK charity which aims to promote the widest understanding of global development issues, their importance and the interdependence of today's world.
The Worldaware Awards recognise both large and small businesses and institutions. They were established 14 years ago and have become a sought after source of recognition by companies, organisations and institutions involved in sustainable commercial and educational projects.