Finding the platform for convergence

Posted Thursday September 24, 2015 by Hazel Durbridge

The point where the fresh water in the lagoon meets the sea

J1 came Saturday and it is lovely to have him here. He has had a good 2 weeks so far and what he has especially enjoyed is the friendliness and helpfulness of the Sri Lankan people and then all the international young people he has met everywhere they went. He says it has been a ‘make a friend a day’ holiday’. It has also inspired him to renew his efforts to learn French.

Sunday we went to the Childrens’ Home with a box of my household items, the plan being I am going to sponsor one of the orphans. This is quite ironic at the moment as I am penniless, but I will be able to sponsor one once I start work.

On Wednesday VSO are paying for a car to drive us back to Colombo which is a luxury. We are going via the elephant orphanage which is off the bus route and where I have been unable to get to yet and VSO are quite happy to sub a little detour. Then we have a day in Colombo for exit interviews, closing bank accounts, getting back my dongle deposit etc.

I have got a bike for J1 and we will cycle a bit around Batticaloa and help S and her two new German volunteers with activities and classes.


FOCUS AREA 4 – Finding the platform for convergence

Post the inevitable chaos of the tsunami period, Batticaloa District Secretariat has been exceptional in co-ordinating delivery between the government sector and the INGOs/ NGOs. All major funding now goes through the national government and INGOs work within policy frameworks and seek approval from the government for their work. This is as it should be.

What that doesn’t capitalise on is the training and expertise of indigenous people employed by INGOs and exposed to international standards of management and delivery.

Their grasp of politics and ability to continually change direction and innovate leaves many of their colleagues in the government sector way behind. What is needed now is an integrated way forward. They need to work alongside state sector colleagues so that there is a gradual convergence of learning and approach. Long term, when funders move away to other areas the government sector will have to deliver.

From the bottom up, the CBOs need to feel included in this process. Conversely for them, there needs to be some give and take and cultural sensitivity. At grass roots level a western management style may not be appropriate for people who are giving their time for free or western solutions and ways of working appropriate for communities who have found ways of managing through extraordinary times.

While culturally Sri Lanka does not manage its government staff with the ruthlessness of its European counterparts, there is wastage in terms of how human resources are used. So much could be done if those with abilities, drive and enthusiasm were given power to manage. The priority for Batticaloa is getting people out from behind their desks and in to the field.

This can not be achieved without transport. The use of 4×4 vehicles and the management of drivers needs review to ensure they are utilised to maximum capacity and safety standards are adhered to. It may be more constructive to set up a vehicle ‘fleet’ for the district rather than assigning to departments.

All the failing and struggling teams and organisations also need help to change their mind set and to move with the times. We all have a responsibility to be proactive, find out for ourselves where the opportunities are and where the work is needed, not wait for someone to provide us with a job for life.

Specifically within the District Secretariat, there is a need for a dedicated monitoring and evaluation unit and a communications/ public relations team.

Batticaloa District Development Plan DRAFT 2013

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