16 April 2011

The Waiting Game...

*I wrote this yesterday by hand while I was sitting around waiting for IT to finish working on my computer. For the entire day. I hate waiting. Patience is not my virtue...

I must admit... this week has been - as I told my manager the other day - well...boring. 

Which may sound weird coming from last week where I was raving about my work and expressing my frustrations about having to postpone again. 

Well, this week, the waiting has continued, and there are still no guarantees.

Granted, I have not been sitting around doing nothing... Oh no. The long hours have continued; the work has not ended. Rather, I am picking up small projects, doing what needs to be done, and at slower moments, reading documents that are good to learn from. 

But, the "waiting game" is really not very fun... you see - my job now within WV is as a DME Officer. My JD, while it includes a variety of tasks, focuses mostly on the organisation,  facilitation and follow-up of a baseline assessment. 

For those non-social scientists out there (Mom & Dad), a baseline assessment is...well...an assessment, or survey, that measures the current status of a problem - in this case, the knowledges, attitudes and practices around cholera - at the beginning of a programme / project in order to be able to measure the full impact of the project at the end of it.

Now, the reason I am playing the excruciating waiting game, maintenant, is because the project I will be establishing the baseline for is taking forever. FOR-EV-VER! (in classic Sandlot expressions). Literally, months. 

You see, the contract between us and the donor has to be signed before I can begin the assessment. Of course, we have to have the guarantee that the money will be there for the project we are establishing before we can actually begin activities. You can't pay for something without money, right?

And so, we wait. We wait for the IFI donor to look through our project plan and make sure all the documents are in order. We wait for the government agency partner to talk to the IFI to make sure what needs to be shared is shared. We wait for the other organisations we are working with to ensure that they are ready to move forward with the project as well. 

This raises one of the biggest frustrations any NGO worker has in responding to emergencies - everything boils down to the money; everything boils down to the grant. 

The grant is what defines the project; the donor is the one you have to report to because they want to know that their money is being used effectively; all activities have to fall specifically under the remit and within the specific time-period of the grant, otherwise you can't charge the activity against the available funds; you have to ensure that all the money is spent within the agreed upon time period, otherwise you have to give the money back and your relationship with the donor and potential for future partnerships will suffer. 

Geez. It sounds like the donor holds all the power here, doesn't it? Including, at this point, my schedule and feelings of being bored / feeling useful. 

I suspect that as I become more and more well-versed in grants, donors, projects and my job, I will be writing more and more about my frustrations with the system. Consider yourself warned. 

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