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Knowledgeable, powerful expert in charge of development strategy admits he is fictional

Just a day after completing the country’s Comprehensive Development Strategy, the expert in charge of Development admitted that he does not actually exist. The expert had done a superb job prioritizing the needs of the poor across 9 major sectors and hundreds of development interventions, not to mention mainstreaming gender and the environment. He had calculated the country’s financing requirements to attain the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the country’s needs for neutral, humanitarian peacekeeping forces to end the civil war, along with a post-conflict strategy to re-integrate combatants, and a timetable for fair, competitive elections.

The regrettably fictional expert had drawn upon a large body of country and sector work to identify best practices to successfully treat a range of development challenges facing the country, such as AIDS, malnutrition, malaria, lack of infrastructure, illiteracy, war, rule of law, governance, the fragility of the state, and the absence of economic growth. The expert had coordinated the actions of the 37 Development partners operating in the 9 major sectors and 147 sub-sectors within a Public Sector Medium-Term Expenditure Framework.

The knowledgeable and powerful but nonexistent expert had also integrated into the country’s Comprehensive Development Strategy the Human Resources Strategy, the Empowerment of the Poor Strategy, the Gender Framework, the Post-Conflict Strategy, the Climate Change Response Program, the Governance Framework, the Capacity-Building Initiative, the Country Ownership and Participation Strategy, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The expert had inclusive participation by all stakeholders, including Development Partners, government officials, and civil society, in designing the Comprehensive Development Strategy.

Leading aid agencies expressed doubts that the expert’s claims to be nonexistent were valid, and promised to address the issue of expert fictionality in the next donor meetings in Geneva.

Postscript: the Onion recently reported a similar problem with US Homeland Security.

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  1. Adam Baker wrote:

    It’s too bad he’s not real. Ahmed Rashid is looking for such a person to run Pakistan…

    Posted September 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink
  2. Alan Eastham wrote:

    Hilarious but so sadly true. Does “non-existent” mean “hired under a consulting contract with UNDP funding?” If so I’ve met him in several countries.

    Posted September 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  3. Aaron Ausland wrote:


    Provoking a collective wince in the aid sector.

    Posted September 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  4. terence wrote:


    Posted September 7, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
  5. Dr. Kurtz wrote:

    you talkin’ ’bout me?

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 3:06 am | Permalink
  6. jon wrote:

    and yet he was still paid handsomely for his services in real money.

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 4:09 am | Permalink
  7. Sceptical Secondo wrote:

    Why was my “What! Does God not exist?”-comment deleted?
    Not that I feel insulted or that it matters really. I’m just curious..

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  8. Orlando R wrote:

    Knowing the buzzword architecture of aid agencies is expertise? Hoo-hah..

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  9. William Easterly wrote:

    Sceptical Secondo, we have no record of your comment. Please post it again. Bill

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  10. Sceptical Secondo wrote:

    Thanks for answering. A mediocre pun rarely improves by being repeated so I think I’ll refrain. I was just afraid that they mere mentioning of ‘God’ would be delicate affair. You never know these days.

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by William Easterly and Aaron Ausland, Daniel Altman. Daniel Altman said: Funny satirical post from @bill_easterly, rapidly confirming himself as Clown Prince of the Development Sphere: […]

  2. By Beautiful fractals and ugly inequality on September 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    […] UPDATE II: my Facebook critic and also @viewfromthecave grant permission for me to meditate on this for a while, and just try to convince you IT’S INTERESTING; note that fractal genius Mandelbrot thought cotton prices were interesting.  (If you do want my Comprehensive Solution, see here.) […]

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