What do aid workers say when they leave their jobs?
PK: You have worked for several years in Myanmar for an international NGO, if you could change one thing in the wider aid sector in Myanmar, what would it be?
It would definitely be the coordination and distribution of aid. It is alarming that after so many experiences of aid distribution, donor actors still lack or are not willing to share information and coordinate on such crucial topics as aid distribution. I witnessed situations when bigger donor organisations weren´t willing to sit down together and talk about simple things like effectiveness, coordination, communication, etc.
PK: What advice would you give to the person who is replacing you in your job?
My advice would be to continue working with civil society organisations and actors. There is definitely a big need to do this job, but it requires an individual approach and tailor-made processes. Myanmar isn´t a country to apply one-off approach.
Is there anything you might have done differently in your job if you had your time over?
There is one thing - I think that it is important to identify right strategic partners in Myanmar and work with them more closely. Not only on project-based, but also in terms of my own organisational development. I would have worked more with local actors/partners on this, so that they would transparently see our own organisations’ development and would be part of our processes.
PK: What is the most important role of civil society organisations in Myanmar right now?
The most important role is to push the boundaries of the transition. The civil society must make pressure on the government to provide sustainable, transparent and people-centred reforms and legal changes, otherwise the country will be squeezed between interests of bigger actors such as China or India. Myanmar needs to clarify its transitional path and define its own state administration, institutions and rule of law.
PK: What do you think international organisations could do differently to better support local organisations?
International organisations can definitely share more of their tools and aid distribution practices, because this is what makes it extremely difficult for local groups. International organisations can also work with local actors more strategically, not only consult them wherever it is needed, but engage them into the planning processes of aid distribution and provide them with core funding (it can be conditional).
(If you are interested in being interviewed as part of this Exit Interview series, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org )