WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, a lot of aid programs, laudable or not, are the invention of the aid organisations.
Let me be clear, in my experience, very few programs come about through a need promulgated outside the aid organisation.
When they represent an actual need, there always seems to have been some sort of connivance in their creation on the part of the donor, usually in the form of a consultancy report.
If this were not the case a lot of money could be spent on more practical things, like infrastructure, as PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill has suggested.
The fact that he recently felt the need to say this in a very public forum in Australia reinforces my view and, coincidentally, increases my respect for him.
Although they would never admit it, the people in aid organisations who invent these programs are primarily interested in feathering their own nests.
Securing funding for a program, no matter how inappropriate or bizarre, reinforces their position, collects kudos and opens up opportunities to create even more programs.
You can pretty much bet that any new research consultancy has been engineered to provide someone within the aid organisation with a launching pad for their ego.
In short, what informs most aid programs is a justification for individual bureaucratic existence rather than a real need.
The success of the aims of aid programs come a very long way down their list of priorities.
There are some exceptions of course.
AusAID is very good at delivering short-term aid packages that produce real results. These are mostly in the area of materiel but seldom have ongoing or sustainable elements.
In worst case scenarios, people have great heaps of stuff delivered to them that they neither know how to use or maintain.
The people who are recruited to carry out aid programs overwhelmingly come from the same country as the donor and very seldom question the need for what they are delivering.
They take this on faith as a given and the thing rolls on, getting bigger and bigger and more and more unwieldy. They also have their own motives, not least of which is to make money and who can blame them for that.
I recently heard of an aid program which has been developed to teach politicians in the Pacific region the art of media spin.
I've no doubt there is a need there somewhere. After all, people like Belden Namah need all the help they can get.
But consider what would have happened if he had been trained and had developed effective media nous before the last elections.
He may very well have come across as a reasonably sane and caring politician; and who's to say he isn't, perhaps he was just the victim of bad press.
On the other hand he might actually have become prime minister and PNG could now be rapidly going down the gurgler. Belden isn't the only fruitloop politician, there are still lots of them out there.
I'm hoping that the candidates for this "teach pollies to talk media spin" program are very, very carefully selected.