Trail Marking

My recent email to the Project Manager of the UNDP KRTEP Project (gotten rid of when the project was extended):

I meant to ask you how you felt about the trails project?  The fact that what was supposed to be a 150,000 euro project got disappeared into some 9,000 euros of payment for work by locals, most of which hasn’t actually been paid.  I mean – I don’t know what happened to most of it, but the actual TRAILS part came down to two halves:  One for cleaning the trails, in which I think 6,000 euros was promised (but not paid), and the other half (3,000) for making signs, installing signs and marking all the trails, which certainly hasn’t been paid.  Alfred got put on the line for all of this.  The corrupt local gov. family had the tender, and that’s what they were willing to pay, or SAID they would.  So Alfred rallied all the locals and got them to do the work cleaning trails.  Even when his direct family offered to do the work, he said no, it’s good pay for local people, but I don’t think the local contractor actually paid Alfred, but Alfred paid the workers. Then there was the sign making, which of course I did – and happy to do it, except of course I would like it if someone said “How amazing that you will do all of this for free”, instead of which Mika – who turned out to be one of the biggest idiots ever – said “Hey!  We’re paying 500 euros!” (and when I looked incredulous, her son, who was along for the ride, said “that’s right! 500 big ones!” Which of course works out to 20 euros per sign for a trail head, and NOTHING for the junction signs).  And of course doesn’t include anything for the expedition required by horse to carry the signs some two day hikes and install them.  I suppose we should have told them to go see what they could get done for that price, but we were too worried about the shoddy work they’d already turned in.  For me, the biggest insult was probably having to play along with this venal stupidity!  Stupid, stupid.  In the end, as I think I said to you before, I’m just glad that they didn’t interfere that much with the work that Alfred and I were trying to do, before UNDP ever heard of the project.  What we’ve made is beautiful, and something to be proud of – and we can honestly say we’ve had no real help with it . . . . so people still contribute.

 The local contractor who got the tender has built a new “pallati” in Bajram Curri – so I’m not surprised he doesn’t have any money to pay for trail marking.  We wish him well, and well alone, of course.
I suppose all this foreign aid is presumed against things working by some foreign system – which works well enough, if your only criteria is making money disappear.  Working to a local system, of money paid for work done . . . . well, someone’s laughing somewhere, and I guess all we can say is:  Seems expensive for a fairly simple joke.

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