A 10-year study of projects financed by the World Bank showed 85 percent of the projects it financed in 1969 did not function after bank resources were withdrawn, according to James Mayfield, a University of Utah political science professor.
Mayfield conducted the study for the World Bank in 1979. "To realize that billions were spent and that only 15 percent (of the projects) were still functioning was very disturbing to me," Mayfield told a Sunstone Symposium audience in Salt Lake City Thursday.Large-scale technical assistance programs like the World Bank and UNICEF, account for 10 percent of relief organizations but spend 60 percent of the world's relief funds, he said.
"Tragically, little of the money allocated trickles down." Much of the money is lost to corruption or administrative overhead.
And governments are inherently inefficient when administering aid projects.
The morale, Mayfield said, is for more involvement by able volunteers working in organizations without all of the overhead.
Mayfield said he incorporated five prerequisites for success in aiding impoverished nations as the co-founder and board chairman of CHOICE, the Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Intercultural Exchange.
"What we could do for a couple hundred-thousand dollars is something governments would have to spend millions of dollars to accomplish."
Mayfield's study showed successful humanitarian assistance projects tend to be small - $1 million to $5 million; designed and implemented locally instead of by outside consultants; supported with local labor, materials and funds; backed by local government and community associations; and designed in tune with local culture.
Making projects compatible with local culture is a concept that parties with money and influence have only recently begun to understand.
Mayfield said he and Salt Lake dentist Tim Evans ran a newspaper ad soliciting volunteer tradesmen to help build a school in Bolivia when they first started CHOICE. He was surprised to get more than 50 responses. Most of the volunteers were men. But that portion has dropped to 60 percent as many of the volunteers travel to CHOICE project areas as families.
Some 2,000 volunteers have worked on CHOICE projects, he said.