EVERY SO OFTEN, MANY NGOs ARE ON THE LOOK OUT for invitation for proposals from Donors who are keen on funding programmes that fall in line with their missions in Tanzania, or their lack of it.
When such calls are made, many people invite experts who know their way with the donors to help make their proposals. Many are very creative. They imagine all sorts of things and develop winning proposals online about programmes that do not exist.
Such groups are the ones who in most cases end up winning the donor confidence; not because they are doing something on the ground, but because they are creative enough and they know their ways with the donor imaginations and as such, they have the confidence of the donors.
Many groups who are actually on the ground struggling to make a difference in our lives are often given regret letters. The donors end up funding phantoms at the cost of reality. And they are given very nice reports which document the kind of progress that would have made Tanzania be amongst the League of Nations in the 1st world.
I make these observations from an informed point of view. And as I make this point, I will not condemn all donors as Phantom Driven Enterprises. We have some who actually engage with the people for sustainable and measurable results. They will engage with you and understand what you are doing, what challenges you are facing and help you offer solutions that will take you to the next level.
For this category of Donors, I salute you.
But for the vast majority who fund hotel workshops where reality is never lived, it is time we also took stoke and asked ourselves; what is the driving motive for calling in proposals when a list to be funded has already been made?
Why must you call for proposals when you only want to steal the intellectual inputs from the many brilliant Tanzanians who make very nice and moving proposals, when you already have someone in mind to fund?
Being a 3rd world country, Tanzania and Tanzanians may be desperate for donor support. At the national level, we all know how we have been taken for a ride by donors. We have been given aid that ends up serving the interests of the donors and political elites rather than of Tanzania and Tanzanians. More than years down the road, Tanzania is in monstrous debt owed to foreign bodies, yet, in the same period, we have received a lot of aid and grants that we see nothing to be proud of as Tanzanians.
Can this inform us of who these people are and what they stand for? Nothing will move until we move to the ground. Donors will largely remain comfortable addressing seminars and dining and going to Arusha every weekend to watch animals as Tanzanians die of dire need.
We have seen massive progress with the expansion of the road networks across Tanzania thanks to partnerships with some donors. At the same time, some big chunk of this donor support is funding their own expatriates; people who know very little compared to our own Tanzanians. A junior officer from the donor community seconded to the same project is being paid 5 times his Tanzanian colleague who knows what is being done. Yet, because it is donor money, we must dance and play to their tunes on the fear of reprisals.
This is the kind of fear donors have instilled on the local CSO sector in Tanzania. We are being made to dance to foreign tunes, to music we do not understand, just to secure donor funding. While the elite from the CSO sector, people who do nothing, are being funded to make merry and host workshops where people talk to each other about what all of them know.
I think time has come when we must ask ourselves some heard question. When I have a garden and I want a bumper harvest, do I wait for a donor to come on board before I start tilling my land?
NO. Donor or no donor,
I will wake up every morning and go to my garden.
I will clear the bush in readiness of the planting season.
I will plant in time for the rains.
I will weed my crops and God willing, some will bear fruits and some will not.
Some seedlings will fall on hard rock and will be eaten by the birds,
Some will fall on thorns and will dry up.
But some will fall on moist land and will bear fruit.
Anybody who wants to help me better join me in my farm.
But one thing I am sure about; I will not become creative to win donor support and confidence. The Tanzanian in me tells me so, and so be it.
And the Tanzanian in me makes me proud to be associated with all Friends of Tanzania , people and institutions who have seen our potential and joined us in our garden. You were friends enough to join us in the garden, not to invite us for food at the shopping centre.