Dr. Arthur Keyes, President and CEO of International Relief and Development (IRD), described how to mitigate risk in aid projects at the June DC Forum in Washington. Dr. Keyes highlighted his presentation by describing the need for accountability within his organization. He remarked that he spends more time with auidtors than with his own children.
Dr. Keyes provided pointers on mitigating risk in conflict and post-conflict countries including:
- Providing security personnel
- Operating "under the radar" so as not to be obvious
- Work with the community for programs
- Ensure that donor commitments are in writing
- Hire local staff and manage with ex-patriots
- Build local capacity
- Ensure proper rotation of ex-patriots to reduce burn-out
- Find methods to ensure that projects are being accomplished - with pictures
- Audit to ensure that funds were disbursed properly
Optimizing aid delivery is a topical subject. Dr. Keyes answered questions about the transition to civilian government in Afghanistan and Iraq. He noted that we have all seen the world change in front of our eyes. He remarked that he recently spent a week in Baghdad and Mosul but did not hear any explosions.
Dr. Keyes explained his journey to creating IRD during the Balkan crisis. Since founding in 1990, IRD has grown from 3 people to around 4,000. IRD is the largest NGO recipient of USAID and operates in 35 countries serving 100 million people with an annual budget of about $500 million.