Yet, it is unknown to the masses how this huge and multi-faceted process takes place. People are often skeptical and may easily confuse international cooperation with humanitarian aid. The first is an ongoing activity aimed at reducing the gap between different countries or continents. While the second is an emergency response mechanism activated following natural or social crises. Unfortunately, this is the one that stands out in the news.
Despite my knowledge and experience, I am far from being in the position to wipe out doubts about the overall efficiency of the cooperation machine, let alone impose judgement. I can only hope to shed some light on the measures, implemented by international donors to ensure accurate financial management. On this note, the EU is the biggest donor in the world - if you are an EU citizen, you should know this.
What follows is the first of a short series of articles, which have the goal of sharing bits and pieces of a larger picture, which I unveil a little further every day. I coordinate the logistics of training programmes on the financial and contractual procedures of the 11th European Development Fund. This fund- which includes European states but is not part of the EU budget - is a huge pot destined to finance a very diverse range of development projects in countries across the globe, from agriculture to energy and governance.
In other words, the financial resources made available by European states will be used by developing countries to carry out their national priorities based on an agreed workplan. Countries all over the world have access to the European Development Fund. Each country has a specific amount of resources allocated over a period of 7 years.
The training programme
The training programme is essentially a capacity building exercise conducted on a global scale. Its goal is to improve the knowledge and professional skills of line ministry staff in ACP countries that manage the resources of the European Development Fund to outsource services and supplies to national or international contractors.
National governments have 7 years to commit the resources available. Hence, to sign the contracts that will ultimately finance specific projects in the country, and failing to do so would translate in a loss of those funds. This is important to understand why an intensive 5-year training programme has been put in place.
Now, getting back to the question in the title: " What does MDF do and why? " I believe the EDF training programme is a good example that represents the reason why we as MDF exist: to empower people that can create an impact whilst doing their jobs.
The EDF training programme is conducted by a handful of four technical experts, occasionally joined by additional experts. They would travel the world tirelessly to visit the so-called National Authorising Officers: the public bodies managing the funds in developing countries. Most of the times the NAO corresponds to the local Ministry of Finance and Cooperation.
The next steps
In the next article of the series, we will revert and see how MDF "got the job" from the European Commission. We will look back at the beginning of the project, which is when I got to know in person the experts and share a couple of anecdotes that occurred at the time of the two pilot training held in Brussels.
On a later stage, we will dive into the core of the training programme and elaborate on the delivery of training, in order to learn more about the work of the experts and the challenges that come with it.
This article was written by our Training Coordinator Daniele Castaldelli