Letter of Complaint to Danish Refugee Council by LeonKukkuk1


									Dear Anders, (Anders Engberg, Desk Officer, Danish Refugee Council, Copenhagen,

I have now been in Uige for seven weeks, and I feel it’s due time to give you an update
about the situation here. I am also sending a copy of this mail to Yvonne. (Yvonne Cappi,
Country Director, Danish Refugee Council, Uige, Angola.)

When you contacted me in the end of August and asked me if I was willing to take an
assignment for DRC in Angola, you gave me the impression that it was very urgent to get
somebody qualified there to run the water project.

After arriving here and visiting some of the finished water-posts, I soon realized that
none of the recommendations from my visit here in June had been taken in to
consideration. I also learned that the report & drawings etc, had not been translated into
Portuguese, nor distributed to the staff in need of it.

During the first week here in Uige, I visited 18 villages/ potential new water projects. Out
of these 14-15 are suitable locations, and could be started on immediately.

At that time I was still under the impression that it was important to speed up, and get the
construction started. Therefore, I made a bill of quantities/ material request for the first
project (rehabilitation of an old Portuguese water supply in Kimassabi) on 28/9.

Later the same day, I was told by the Chief of Procurement, Yvonne’s husband Nelson,
that they could not place an order for only one project, and that he had to wait until I had
prepared a few more. At the same time Nelson also gave me a list of what they had in the
store of pipes, fittings etc. These are items ordered by my predecessor, but nobody has
the knowledge of were this items are planned to be spent. It was agreed that if possible I
will use some of these parts on any of the sites.
Two days later, the 30/9 I had prepared the material request for two additional sites, Terra
Nova & Dala. The requests were given to Marijano Gaspar for translation from English
into Portuguese before given to Nelson.
I later learned that Nelson had accompanied his wife to Malanje/ Luanda, and I later learn
that he’s not returning to Uige before on 8/10. At this time I still believed the request was
made & approved.
It was first later I learned that the requests had to be signed/ authorized by Leon, before
they could be effectuated by procurement. Leon was also in Malanje at that time.

On Yvonne’s return to Uige on the 8. October, she requested a brief of the situation of the
water project.
At this stage I already realized that to avoid sitting in Uige waiting for the materials to be
procured & delivered, I should go to Malanje to do assessments and look into the
situation there. I suggested this at the meeting, and was told by Yvonne that I was free to
go Malanje whenever I want to.
Upon Leon’s return on 11/10, the requests were signed & approved by him. At this stage
almost 2 weeks had been lost lost. I admit that I could have done more to push the
requests to get authorized, if I only knew how the system (not) worked. And I didn’t,
since nobody took the bother to explain it to me.
I believed the materials now were literarily “in the pipeline”. I assume Leon was of the
same impression, as he is the person authorized to sign such requests.
At this point it has to be mentioned that the total costs of these 3 projects are USD 3.300,
an average of USD 1.110 per project. The average amount in the budget is EUR 2.000 =
USD 2.600. I.e. the costs are only 42% of the average estimate in the budget. (to be able
to spend all the funds, the number should be increased from 50 to 118 water posts). This
is in addition to the EUR 1.500 / USD 1.950 allocated for the construction of each of 50
the sanitary installations also supposed to be built.

A few days later we learned that the materials has not been ordered yet, since the request,
already approved and authorized by Leon, had taken the “backchannel” from her husband
at procurement to Yvonne for her comments. There are now being spent days on
discussions about why I want to use that kind of pipe, why I can’t use connections of
PVC to join steel pipes etc. At one point I could get permission to buy the pipes, but not
the connection and fittings. It was too expensive! Just to make it clear, we are still
talking about 1.100 USD. We are still talking about a project that within the 10 months
it’s been running hasn’t been able to spend a cent except from on salaries!

Now suddenly my permission to go to Malange was withdrawn, and I was now supposed
to wait for Leon’s return from CPH. I was not given any understandable explanation for
this decision.

On the 26/10 the works started at the sites in Terra Nova & Dala, but still today the
supply of sand and gravel is not completed here.

To avoid any more delays, I was requested by Leon to make a list of all the materials I
believed I would need for the water points and sanitary facilities until the end of the year,
so he could authorize the request before his departure to CPH. We also agreed on
establishing 3 additional teams, to be able to work on 6 sites in Uige at the same time. I
made the bill of quantity and material request on 15/10.
The bricklayers would be at our disposal from 25/10.

On 2/11 I learned that the transportation of materials to the additional 3 sites had not even
started, since all the trucks are in Malanje. I then request why they don’t hire trucks. I am
then being informed that Yvonne has informed that there is no money in the water project
budget for the rental of trucks.
In my copy of the budget (the copy given me by Yvonne) there is a line called 3.1.3 Hire
of truck, EUR 18.000 = USD 23.400.
& hire of 4WD EUR 9.000 = 11.700 USD.
This in addition to purchase of tractor and 4 WD. (The tractor I haven’t seen, but rumours
says that there is a Landcruiser parked in Luanda, procured for this project.)
However, it would not have made a big difference even if we had the means of
transportation. While we believed that the material requested and approved by the Leon
for these sites were being ordered, we were partly wrong. It appears that the order again
had taken the “backchannel” to Yvonne, and she did not approve/ or erased the order of
adobe blocks and wheelbarrows. Maybe Yvonne had a very good explanation for
changing the material request already approved by the person authorized to do so, but this
had not been communicated to anybody here before she left on her 3 weeks of vacation/
seminar. The chief of procurement is also gone, so it is not possible to get any
explanation from him neither.
One doesn’t have to be an engineer to understand that it’s difficult to build a water tank
without blocks to build the walls.

The project has now been running for more than 10 months There has been expat staff
paid from the project for more than 8 months. During this 10 month period one has been
able to start with 3 sites, and to spend 3.300 USD.
If I was the donor I would be really concerned.

During my almost 10 years working within the humanitarian sector, I have worked in
many strange places and organisations. Among others I worked 15 months for DRC in
Kosovo, which I learned to know as a very professional and well managed organisation.
After having spent 7 weeks here, I do not recognize any of this. I’m sorry to say that if it
wasn’t for the DRC stickers on the cars & buildings; I can easily at times mistake this
organisation with some mismanaged private run family-business from the colonial times.
Absolutely not the professional organisation I after all know that DRC is.

By writing this mail, I have tried to focus on the project implementation related problems.
I will not comment the fact that some of us live in accommodation with hardly any
privacy, hardly furnished, and with a generator that is turned of from 23.00 – 06.30. As
said, I will not come further into it, just mention that these are conditions I did not expect
to find within DRC.

My contract ends in six weeks. I can not guaranty that any of the projects will be
completed by that time. If we are lucky, maybe the 3 next ( in tot 6) sites will be
ongoing. The total committed amount for construction costs will then be some USD
6.600, after 12 months of project implementation.
If I was in charge, I would by now be far beyond the point of being worried.

These are not the conditions I accepted to come and work under.
I must also say that I have no problem in understanding the high turnover of expat staff in
the program. Further on it will surprise me if the water project is the only project in the
DRC Angola program suffering from similar problems.
At this stage I am quite frustrated and don’t know if whether to ask you to release me
from my contract or stay here the last 6 weeks.
I must also ad that if I believed raising these matters directly with Yvonne would have
made any difference, I would have done that without involving you at this stage.

I kindly ask for your advice and recommendations on how to proceed from here.

Best regards

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