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Workshop on consultancy in Ghana

Danmark: 
Seminar om konsulentroller
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Minutes from Workshop on GV short term consultancy visits at GDCP, Dalun at the 21st of May, 2001.


Agenda:

  1. Opening prayer.
  2. Introduction with presentation of participants
  3. Brainstorming

4.       Blunders & Shortcomings

5.       Hints & Good Practices

6.       Dilemmas & Unsolved Problems

  1. Group work
  2. Presentation and discussion
  3. Closing remarks
  4. Closing prayer

Opening prayer
The chairman Mr. Osman called the meeting to order and the opening prayer was said by Mr. Philip B. Adam at 9.45 a.m.

Introduction with presentation of participants
Helene presented the welcome address and facilitated the workshop. She explained, that over the years there has been a change in the short term visits from GV. The DANIDA guidelines have been revised and consultancies are expected to be made more specific. The change from ”supervisory visits” to “consultancy visits” brought out the need to thoroughly discuss and analyse the role of the Short Term Consultancies; what are they for; what should go into these; what are the short and long term aims, and how these could be improved upon.

In Denmark an external consultant was hired to conduct a workshop with this focus and 14 people from GV participated. There was an outspread wish to have the views, findings, experiences and recommendations from the Ghananian side too and this workshop was recommended.

Hereafter all participants presented themselves and their experiences working with Short Term Consultants. Everybody reported that they had interacted with the consultants.

Karen Helene further gave an overview of the method used at the workshop in Denmark. During the workshop participants were asked to put on a piece of paper any inputs they had for the various items on the agenda. After that three (3) groups were formed to arrange and discuss these inputs. They later presented them to all participants for discussion. The same agenda and method was to be used by the Ghanaian workshop.

The discussion on the Danish workshop centred on two focuses:
a “Formal part”, dealing with the cycle of preparations, carrying out, reporting and follow up on short term consultancy visits.
and a “Cultural Code of Conduct” part that dealt with aspects of cross cultural understanding, and do’s and don’ts in Ghana.
 
In Denmark it had been decided to create a handbook on the role of the short term consultants to be used by experienced as well as new consultants. This workshop is to be followed up yearly for further discussions.

Helene animated the participants to give inputs on all elements of the process of Short Term Consultancy visits under the headlines of the agenda:
Blunders & Shortcomings, Hints & Good Practices, Dilemmas & Unsolved Problems.

Brainstorming
The participants wrote their inputs on pieces of paper and placed them under one of the headings. All the papers were placed on the floor to make an overview easy.

Group work
Participants formed three (3) groups under each of the headings. The groups discussed and arranged the inputs and the results were then presented for further discussions.

Presentation and discussion
The presentations and inputs are attached as Annex 1.
The discussions touched on issues related to the presentations.
During discussions it was made clear, that mutual respect and recognition is important.

The professional aspect of the consultancy was discussed. Sometimes professional or technical advice is needed to address issues like stage of implementation and monitoring. It was generally agreed that knowledge of the projects is important and that GV members could come but they could be assisted by local Ghanaian consultants.

On appraisals e.g. MTR of SFL and GDCP Phase 5, GV members were ”mere” resource persons and their expertise should rather be recognised as consultants.

Cultural unawareness/insensitivity were discussed for a long time. The consensus was, that “awareness” should be created. The insensitive should be made sensitive and the unaware should be made aware.

Confusion on the status of and clarification on whether consultancies are monitoring or advisory was also expressed.

And the status of recommendations was discussed. Recommendations should always be discussed further with GV/GDCA before administrative instructions are given for implementation (e.g. the poultry farm at GDCP was continued before the recommendations had been discussed).

The clarity of recommendations was discussed. Recommendations might look technical, but policy issues have been added, making it difficult to follow (e.g. Inger and Henning Short term consultancy on the accounts).

Copies of the reports should be made available to the stakeholders when it had been discussed.

Closing remarks
Hajia Adisa Munkaila thanked the facilitators and participants for a good job done. The facilitators thanked the participants for their valuable inputs which would be sent to GV.

Closing prayer
The closing prayer was given by Mr. O. Z. Norgah at 4.00 pm

Annex 1:
The following are the presentations from the groups under the three (3) headings.
 
1. Blunders and shortcomings

Recognition of Partners
Due recognition of ability of partners to avoid blunders and shortcomings.
Recognition of partners approach to development projects.
Most consultants are not professionals in the field.
Consultants could work alongside a Ghanaian short term consultant.

Terms of Reference
Loaded terms of reference.
Terms of reference are written too late for a good dialogue of the phrasing.
TOR to be clearly discussed by both partners before the consultancy start.
Not having specific agenda for consultancy.
Inability to cross check information due to time factor.

Work of Consultants
Sometimes these consultants get the chance to interact privately with staff; And they use this to influence their work.
Asking people who don’t know about GDCA/GDCP and SFL
Timing of consultants are sometimes planned to fit the consultants rather than the project’s calendars.
More time should be given to all consultants for enough interactions.
Consultants give short notice for the visits, which makes plan of work very difficult.
Some consultants are too short for meaningful work.

Follow-up on consultancies
Recommendation sometimes “instructive” rather than “advisory”.
How do we get recommendations implemented? To allow complete discussions in Ghana and Denmark?
Concentrate on only one sector activities.
Consultancy visits sometimes destruct plan of work.
Consultancies easily change indicators. (not clarified)

- Investigative conduct.

(The above mentioned and arranged sentences are the same as the input papers for this group.)

2. Hints & Good Practices.

 

Terms of Reference
Dialogue on TOR by GV/BOD/MGT.
TOR prepared in good time.
TOR should take reference from previous consultancy reports.
TOR are well specified and Project holistic.

Terms of Reference
Dialogue on TOR by GV/BOD/MGT.
TOR prepared in good time.
TOR should take reference from previous consultancy reports.
TOR are well specified and Project holistic.

Conducting of Consultancy.
Consultations with all stakeholders
Consultancy is participatory.
Open and transparent.
Inter-cultural practices are well observed
Consultants are social and hardworking

Debriefing
Discussion of draft findings of consultancy.
Written note after discussion

Reporting
Reports are usually very comprehensive.


Input papers from “Hints & Good Practices”:
-           TOR
Agreeing on specific terms of reference before consultants come down.

Conducting of Consultancy:
Open questions and dialogue facilitates the consultancy process
The practical approaches – participation nature of some of the consultants.
Frank and honest discussions
Open and transparent
Ask people who know about GDCP for confirmation of information
Inter-cross cultural understandings of each other
Inter-cultural practices are well observed.
All consultants are social and hard working.
Holding wide consultation with all stakeholders – i.e. visiting projects and talking to project implementers.

Debriefing:
Debriefing to agree on comments of consultants
Consultants always discuss issues and problems with staff. This always ?? them after the visit.
Debriefing note presented before departure from Ghana.
Discussion of Draft findings of consultancy.

Reporting:
Reports usually very comprehensive e.g. 2001 Accounts consultancy visit.
Consultants are all to know projects status.
Give advice to programme mgt on certain issues.


3. Dilemmas & Unsolved Problems

Issues of Preparation

- Unclear TOR
Are consultants doing advisory work or monitoring or both?
Are consultants for “critiquing” or “criticizing”?

- Inadequacy of information flow from management to
staff
communities



Issues During Consultancy Visit

- Cultural Differences
Concept of time
Interruption of planned programs in response to cultural issues
Cultural (insensitivity, changed to) unawareness?

- Amount of time for consultancy
Some consultancies too short
Complexity of issues



Follow-up issues

- Who takes the final decision on consultancy recommendations?
Status of consultants should be very clear.
How to distinguish between “administrative/technical” and “policy” recommendations?
Who should be the recipient of consultancy report? GV, EC of GDCA, SfL BOD, Embassy?



Input papers from “Dilemmas & unsolved Problems”:

Who is to give final approval of project coordination?

Follow up issues:
-   Not ask to make conclusions during visits.
How to follow-up on the recommendations in the report. EC, GH and GDCP com. may have different points of view of the recommendations. How to solve this dilemma?
The status of the consultant should be very clear.
Is a GV-FV member able to take decisions or ‘only’ to make recommendations?
What is the status of the recommendations of the consultants?
Who is to give final approval to conclusions and recommendations, GV or GDCA?

Preparations:
Unclear TOR
Staff normally unprepared or informed adequately about Agenda of these consultants.
Inform communities about purpose of consultancy.
The purpose of consultancies.
Consultancies “critiquing” or “criticizing”?
Are the consultants doing advisory work or monitoring or both?

Cultural issues:
Cultural differences continuous to hinder(?)
Insensitivity to cultural differences.
Due to the short time of consultancies most problems are not solved since they keep on changing.