The ODI Fellowship Scheme is highly respected among employers of economists and statisticians. Fellows have gone on to make successful careers in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, academia, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and their own country governments. Many choose to stay in the countries they are posted to.
Each Fellowship is unique with different challenges and successes coming your way from day one. The experience of working inside a government ministry gives you unprecedented access to not only the challenges faced but also the dedication of the people trying to make tangible improvements to the lives of their compatriots. I was thrown in at the deep end and expected to perform, but with patience and dedication identified my goals, which were forever changing, and got on with the job; and experienced things along the way I would not have had the opportunity to elsewhere.
In my role as a senior economist (ODI Fellow) at the Sierra Leone National Revenue Authority (NRA), I was engaged in major policy processes and policy oriented research; monitoring and analysis of related developments and outcomes, and communicating and liaising with donors; government bodies and international institutions alike. I represented the NRA in various high-level meetings with international organisations such as the various missions of the World Bank and IMF. In this capacity, I was able to contribute to the output of the institution while internally helping to set up systems and processes to facilitate future interactions with partner institutions.
Working for a developing country government early in my career was probably the best decision I could make – and ODI offers a unique opportunity to do that. The perspective I've gained from this experience is unrivalled and brings a humility in the face of the development challenges we're trying to solve. I am continuously inspired by my colleagues' resourcefulness. I've have the privilege to write national strategies for private sector development, reviewed highly political policies and seen the policy making process first hand. All the while, seeing how I perform under pressure and understanding my own shortcomings better. Highly recommended, both professionally and personally!
The ODI Fellowship offered me a unique opportunity to work in the field of global health in a dynamic region of the world. It has been a truly rewarding experience to work at the Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Programme (HITAP) with a committed leadership and a fantastic team. The Fellowship has helped me gain a better understanding of the kind of work I am interested in and the skills needed going forward. I want to thank the ODI Fellowship for being supportive during the initial phase of post allocation and for being readily available throughout the Fellowship programme.
My ODI Fellowship within the Central Bank of Nigeria did not only provide me with the unique opportunity to learn about and contribute to development from within the host country government. It additionally allowed me to experience the role which various donor institutions and consulting firms play in influencing developing countries – with different observed levels of impact. I am sure that this experience will strongly shape my own career in international development.
Being an integral part of a government ministry puts an ODI Fellow in a unique position. The ministry and its staff become your professional support network and your knowledge base; and, in turn, you become theirs. The learning curve is steep and, as I write nine months into my posting, mine has not yet shown any signs of relenting. We have conducted a survey of Malawi’s financial institutions on their lending to small and medium enterprises, which will expand the government’s knowledge base, facilitate the sharing of information between the financial sector and the government and, ultimately, help inform policy-making. The need for information sharing is not just internal. Encouraging dialogue between the public sector and private sector, as well as improving inter-ministerial coordination, has been a key theme of my work. I am involved in establishing a Sector Wide Approach for Trade, Industry and Private Sector Development – an exciting initiative that could improve dialogue between players across the entire sector and promote a more coordinated approach. In short, encouraging collaboration, sharing and learning is an aspect of an ODI Fellow’s role that can complement and guide its technical side. Indeed, it may be a crucial step towards making a truly sustainable impact.
After nearly two years here, I can safely say that there is nothing like a typical day at the Ghana Education Service! I’m part of a four-member team that works on the $1.8 billion Ghana Education Budget. We allocate government and donor resources across the country for the running costs of schools and infrastructure projects. There are opportunities to travel across the country on official trips, interacting with the regional budget officers and visiting schools to monitor new projects. I spend much of my time with Planning and Statistics Officers from all the districts of Ghana – training them in basic forecasting methods, helping them allocate their resources more effectively by analysing the Annual Education Census database and designing Annual Operational Plans. The Ghana Education Service is always receptive to new ideas – our recommendations on the scope for efficiency savings in our budgetary process were fully accepted and we were able to reduce the time spent working on the budget by approximately five weeks.
My Fellowship as a health economist at the Ministry of Health in Burundi is allowing me to use my passion, skills and dedication to improve public health. I work on important policy areas that affect the lives of millions of people. For example, we helped to design and are implementing a national health insurance scheme that will provide free access to health services to the most vulnerable people. At the same time, I am part of a team conducting a study of national hospitals that will allow us to understand the key problems they face and develop a set of policy options to improve their financial management and the quality of care they provide. I also coordinate the Groupe Thématique du Financement, which brings together all the financial and technical donors to improve aid coordination and efficiency. Nowhere else can anyone have a more direct impact on the lives of people than by working at the heart of government, implementing policies that can bring about change. As an ODI Fellow you are a key part of that change.