The failure of a $23 million project to upgrade the technical and vocational education system in Balochistan is a textbook example of how not to ‘do development’. The project was being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) but it has now pulled the plug after the disbursement of $4.04 million , most of which has been spent on ‘procurement’. The ADB was to have provided a loan of $16 million but it was obvious from the outset that the project had been poorly planned. It was heavily reliant on private sector cooperation, but with the private sector in Balochistan virtually moribund, there was little help to be had there. The reforms that were proposed were too ambitious and the design of the project included developments that duplicated existing resources and which were already being funded by other donors. Both of these factors would have been evident when the project proposal was being written - presumably on the back of an envelope. The country office of the ADB itself was found to be wanting as well and the provincial government and the ADB had divergent views as to how the project was to be implemented; again an issue that should have been settled before the proposal received a single dollar of funding. A report commissioned by the ADB head office in Manila was scathing, and ends saying “… the project was irrelevant and ineffective”. That Balochistan desperately needs resources for vocational training, there is not a shred of doubt. The failure of this project that would have provided two polytechnic schools and three training centres for women is a colossal setback. At the root of the failure lies bad planning and at least some of the blame for that has to be owned by the ADB , which should have seen that there were serious issues of project viability. The need for a project such as this remains, it has not gone away, and it is for the planners to get around a table quickly and revisit what could have been a development ‘jewel’ but turned out to be a rotten egg.
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