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About the ODI Fellowship Scheme

Governments often face capacity problems and view the Scheme as an effective means of employing well-qualified and highly motivated economists. Fellows become line employees within the civil service making this a highly flexible form of technical support.

The host government draws up Terms of Reference for each two-year posting. The success of the Scheme and the respect it has gained from governments is demonstrated by the consistently high demand for Fellows and by the degree of responsibility often entrusted to Fellows.

What do ODI Fellows do?

Examples of the range of activities in which Fellows are currently or recently engaged

  • Budget preparation and allocation at sectoral level and central level (all countries)
  • Assisting in drafting an Interim Development Framework (Lesotho)
  • Monitoring and evaluating poverty reduction strategies (Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi)
  • Development and implementation of Value Chain Analysis and Development Training Course in conjunction with the World Bank and the European Commission (Mozambique)
  • Analysing tax data to produce a harmonised forecast of government revenue (Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Uganda)
  • Providing analytical support for a fifteen-year Water Sector Development Programme and assisting in developing a Policy and Monitoring evaluation system (Ethiopia)
  • Designing systems and procedures for aid co-ordination and debt management (Sierra Leone)
  • Devising a strategic response to HIV/AIDS (Swaziland, South Africa)
  • Providing policy briefings for biofuels strategy - Mozambique
  • Strategic planning and budget preparation in the Education, Agricultural and Health sectors (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burundi)
  • Developing guidelines for the retention and use of school fees in secondary schools (Malawi)
  • Developing, in collaboration with other agencies, a system of incentives to get state level engagement in the MDG process (Nigeria)
Recent trends in fellowship posts by type of employing institutions
05-07 06-08 07-09 08-10 09-11 Total
Finance / Planning 18 22 20 23 27 110
Central Bank 1 2 1 2 1 7
Trade / Industry / Regional Integration 5 5 5 9 4 28
Agriculture 1 4 2 2 5 14
Environment / Water 1 - 2 1 3 7
Health 1 5 3 4 4 17
Education 4 1 1 4 2 12
Regional Organisation 1 1 2 1 2 7
Other 2 - - 2 2 6
Total 34 40 36 48 50 208

Which countries participate?

The aim of the Scheme is to support low-income and high-poverty countries. In October 2018, 28 low- and middle-income countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific hosted ODI Fellows. You can find the full list in our booklet.

We are always keen to consider incorporating new countries into the Scheme. New country governments wishing to participate must make a formal request to ODI. We then follow up with a detailed scoping visit to ensure conditions are suitable for hosting ODI Fellows.

History of the scheme

The Fellowship Scheme was established in 1963 when the first 3 Fellows were posted to the Treasury in Tanzania, the Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya and the Ugandan Development Corporation. Since then, over 900 ODI Fellowships have been awarded and the Scheme has worked in over 40 countries.

Geographical distribution of Fellowship placements - 1963 to 2009
Year of entry / Country of placement 1963-2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total
Barbados (incl. CDB & CRNM*) 8 0 0 0 0 0 8
Belize 14 0 0 0 0 0 14
Botswana 74 0 0 0 0 0 74
Burundi 1 2 1 2 1 2 9
Dominica 3 0 0 0 0 0 3
Ethiopia (incl. UNECA**) 2 0 1 2 2 2 9
Fiji (incl. Regional***) 34 1 2 3 1 2 43
The Gambia 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
Ghana 5 1 2 1 1 1 11
Guyana 36 2 3 1 3 3 48
Kenya (incl. EAC****) 15 0 0 0 0 1 17
Lesotho 44 1 1 1 3 1 51
Liberia 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
Malawi 57 3 2 2 3 3 70
Mauritius 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Montserrat 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
Mozambique 33 3 4 3 3 3 50
Namibia 19 1 1 1 1 1 25
Nigeria 1 2 2 3 2 0 9
Papa New Guinea 43 3 2 1 1 3 56
Rwanda 19 3 4 3 2 2 34
St Lucia 6 0 0 0 0 0 6
St Vincent 9 0 0 0 0 0 9
Sierra Leone 3 3 2 2 0 4 14
Solomon Islands 11 2 1 2 2 1 19
South Africa 5 2 2 2 4 4 19
Southern Sudan 0 0 0 2 3 3 8
Swaziland 52 1 1 1 2 1 58
Tanzania (incl. EAC****) 33 1 2 2 1 0 39
Timor Leste 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
Tonga 6 0 0 0 0 0 6
Uganda 51 2 3 1 3 4 64
Vanuatu 4 0 2 1 2 1 10
Zambia 21 0 1 0 1 2 25
Zanzibar 12 1 1 2 1 3 20
Total 629 34 40 36 48 50 837

*CDB & CRNM: Caribbean Development Bank and Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery
**UNECA - United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
*** Pacific Regional: South Pacifi c Applied Geoscience Commission, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Secretariat of the Pacific Community
****EAC - East African Community

How is the ODI Fellowship Scheme funded?

The cost of each posting is shared between our partner governments and ODI. Host governments generally pay a local salary which is supplemented by ODI to the level of a junior UK civil servant. Grants from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in the UK, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Australia and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation currently provide the funding for ODI’s financial contribution to the Scheme.

Where do Fellows work?

Most ODI Fellows work as economists, planning officers or statisticians in government ministries or agencies. Often this will be ministries of finance or planning, but many also work in ministries of trade and industry, regional integration, agriculture, environment, water, health and education. Several also work in central banks, revenue authorities, statistics offices and regional organisations.

Where ODI's current Fellows are working. Photo: ODI

Administrative and financial arrangements

Although Fellows are selected and appointed by ODI, they are employees of the governments or public bodies for which they work. The latter bear local employment costs while ODI supplements Fellows' income and meets the costs of the Fellows' travel and other related expenses. The precise division of responsibilities is normally as follows:

The local employer is responsible for:

  • Paying the salary for the post which would be payable to a locally recruited national with similar qualifications and experience.
  • Providing similar conditions of service (e.g. accommodation, end-of-contract gratuity, leave, travel allowance on duty, medical treatment, vehicle purchase loan) as for national staff in similar grades.
  • Contracts of employment between the host government and individual Fellows determine the Fellow's salary and other terms and conditions of service. These vary from country to country according to the post held, cost of living and other local factors.

ODI is responsible for:

  • Recruitment and selection of Fellows; arranging placements; providing Fellows' pre-departure briefing and allowances.
  • Paying monthly supplementation which takes into account local income and costs. Supplementation is designed to absorb the extra cost of living in the local country and is revised annually.
  • Fellows' passage and baggage expenses at the start and end of the two-year contract.
  • Medical emergency insurance cover in post.

Total emoluments, including supplementation and gratuity, at presently amount to around £21,000 per annum (2012).

Scheme administration

The ODI Fellowship Scheme is managed by a team of three people: Robin Sherbourne (Head of the ODI Fellowship Scheme), Susan Barron (Programme Manager) and Darren Lomas (Programme Officer).

Robin Sherbourne - Head of the ODI Fellowship Scheme

Robin Sherbourne has been appointed Head of the ODI Fellowship Scheme from 1 November 2012. As Head of the ODI Fellowship Scheme, Robin is responsible for overseeing the application, interview and selection procedures, leading the annual placement tours to Fellowship Scheme countries, allocating Fellows to posts, and negotiating with governments who want to participate in the Scheme. Robin is a passionate believer in the usefulness of economists in government and the need to build capacity in policy design and implementation within government structures.

After a first degree in physics from Magdalen College Oxford and four years living and working in Germany and Spain, he returned to the UK to complete a master’s degree in economics at LSE. In 1991 he became the first ODI Fellow in Namibia and ended up extending his Fellowship by a further two years with support from the Overseas Development Administration (the precursor to DfID). He spent two years as an economic advisor with the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions before returning to Namibia in 1997. He spent 15 years in Namibia teaching at the university, establishing a research institute, a current affairs magazine, working as an analyst for a stockbroking firm, advising the Namibian central bank, and acting as group economist for Old Mutual Namibia. Since 2007 Robin has once again become closely associated with the Fellowship Scheme sitting on the interview panel and participating in the placement tours.

Susan Barron – Programme Manager, ODI Fellowship Scheme

Susan joined the ODI Fellowship Scheme in 1999 after spending several years working for the civil service in Ireland before moving to the UK to take up a post with the British Council where she worked on project management for projects based in the Middle East and North Africa. Although not an economist by training, Susan studied history and politics at University College Dublin. Little did she realise when studying the “Politics of Divided Societies” that she would find herself a regular visitor to the case studies she covered back then.

Susan is the Programme Manager for the Scheme and, along with Darren Lomas the Programme Officer, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Scheme. She also takes the lead on all matters financial – from making payments to Fellows, drawing up budgets, liaising with clients on forecasting and invoicing and helping to identify new funding opportunities. Susan is also part of the recruitment team for the Scheme and sits on the interview panel where her area of specialisation relates to motivation and assessing the suitability of candidates for a role as a civil servant within a developing country context.

Susan’s time at ODI means that there are few questions relating to the Scheme that she isn’t able to answer and the well-being and success of the Fellows during their posting is a key element of her role within the Fellowship Scheme Team.

Darren Lomas - Programme Officer, ODI Fellowship Scheme

Darren joined the ODI Fellowship Scheme in 2007, following a year supporting Communications and the RAPID programme at ODI. Prior to his time at ODI, he worked at the British Library for six years in Customer Services, Learning and Development, and on the LIFE Project, a collaboration with UCL that analysed and predicted the lifecycle costs for the preservation of digital information. Before this, he studied Linguistics at UCL.

Along with Susan Barron, Darren is responsible for the day-to-day management of the scheme, with particular responsibility for organising the recruitment and marketing of the scheme, as well as the insurance for Fellows placed overseas. During the recruitment process and throughout the subsequent two-year Fellowship postings Darren is usually the first point of contact for Fellowship matters. During the interview process he runs the group assessments and during the course of the year handles a range of issues relating to Fellows and their postings.