what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reflections on my years in Kyrgyzstan

The curiously named William and Mary College in the US contacted me today to invite me to take part in a survey about the development of Kyrgyzstan – where I worked as a Team Leader from 2005-2007. 
My first inclination was to decline – not just because of US imperialism (or of the connotations of William and Mary - "King Billy" as he was known in our neck of the woods !) but because of the risk of the attachment being spam. 
But my second thoughts were more generous – and I took the risk. 
The site was genuine - and indeed offered the most interesting (and interactive) internet questionnaire I have ever taken part in. It automatically honed in on my answers to probe them more deeply.....

I had only one small criticism - once the questionnaire software had identified me as a European "Commission" consultant, it then didn't really ask questions about the EC programmes, choosing instead to focus on the other development bodies I had identified in the country - US Aid; World Bank; UNDP and Swiss-Aid.
Presumably the designers assumed that I could not be objective - but I have in fact been very critical of EC programmes - as should be evident from this long paper I drafted for a NISPAcee Conference a few years a back...

And I did volunteer quite a few thoughts about the Kyrgz experience in several extensive papers - also on my website - first on the experience of developing a Roadmap for Local government in the country; then one on Municipal Capacity Building; and a final, shorter one on Building Local Government in a Hostile Climate.
Only the Roadmap was part of my terms of reference - and even that was not quite a normal technical paper; I wrote them because of my commitment.....something in short supply, I have to add sadly, amongst consultants!!

There were few open questions in the questionnaire - I would like to have put on record my appreciation of the open way these other external development organisations worked with one another in Bishkek in that era. And the great support I got from the EC Delegation - and from the German Ambassador....
Not a typical experience in my experience of working in 10 countries!!!

I should also add that the EC commissioned a very full report on the EC experience of decentralisation globally and included KR in the survey. Their report - commissioned by ECDPM - was published in 2007 with the title Decentralisation and Local Governance and is a useful reference......

I was there from 2005-2007. It was the third project in almost a decade I  spent in Central Asia and the Caucusus - and have to say that these years gave me the most professional satisfaction. In 2 of the countries I was working with the Presidential Office - who ruled the country with a tight grip. But in Azerbaijan I was given my head - and managed to turn a hopeless situation around...And in both I was working with people who seemed to appreciate getting a sense of how things worked ( or didn't) in other countries. Consultants were thin on the ground....  

Kyrgyzstan was, of course, more "fluid" with the President in fact escaping to Russia a few weeks after I arrived!  

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