Today a message arrived in my inbox from an address called DevBalls, with links to a blog called "DevBalls - Exposing the absurdity of the aid industry". The mystery author must be someone who knows people who know my e-mail address, but at some distance - because apparently I have missed out on a whole year of DevBalls. The spring and autumn 2014 issues can be downloaded from that blog.
Everything you find there is harsh criticism of UK government aid policy and its implementation. The style is rather aggressive, but the questions the authors raise are pertinent: for example,
whether it is a good idea to entrust international accounting firms with the task of carrying out social development programmes. Or whether evaluations should be allowed to, well, evaluate the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of an intervention. That is something I have wondered about in an earlier post of mine, puzzling about amazingly fluffy evaluation terms of reference for a massive multi-million dollar project (which happened to be run by a large accounting firm).
DevBalls readers are invited to send in contributions, "anonymity is guaranteed", i.e. you don't need any, ah, balls (which implies courage, I think, in colloquial English - pardon my non-native speaker's awkwardness) to pour out your anger and frustration. No-one will know it's you.
But why hide? Are the authors worried their office might be raided by armed pro-DFID militiamen who'd gun them down, Charlie Hebdo style? Or are they worried they might never get awarded any DFID contracts anymore if they ask challenging questions? Are things that bad? Do you have to fear for your job if you question a client's policy? That would be very, very sad.