Establishing sustainable local structures and capacities requires long-term external commitment. Yet, long-term international assistance tends to create local dependencies on external support. Advisors should focus on sharing knowledge, ideas and solutions which can be funded and/or supported by the host government’s or institution’s budget. Advisors should think creatively and consult with their local counterpart in order to identify a strategy that balances the building of capacity with a weaning of the international funds. Care has to be taken not to pull away the funding too early in case this results in a collapse of a nascent and still very fragile system. The key challenge is to determine when is the earliest, yet most appropriate, time for the transition to local capacity to take place.
As an advisor, you will face situations where you will have to decide whether you need to step in individually, with your experience and expertise as a practitioner, in order to carry out a function that your counterpart is supposed to do. In a situation where your host government or institution is incapable of delivering services to its clients because its institutions are too weak, you may be tempted to do so. Prior to making such a decision, however, you should weigh the cost of your inaction against the consequences of your involvement.
In other words, is it better to let the service be lacking even though it can mean significant hardship to many individuals, or should you step in and do the job, being fully aware that you are creating a dependency and not addressing the root cause of the problem? Your answers to these questions will depend on the context you are in and will determine your choice of action. A banal example would be, should you pick up the trash or support the establishment of effective waste disposal programme? As an advisor, your main priority should be to help your counterpart carry out a task, or identify ways to do so. Every effort should be made to avoid doing the job on their behalf.