“Small grants are out of fashion – in big countries. As G8 industrialised nations move towards their target of doubling foreign aid to Africa by 2010, development policy has been revamped to accommodate a steep
increase in aid budgets. Big money needs big projects, preferably with the support and cooperation of national bureaucracies. Small grants can seem marginal by comparison.
Careful arguments have been marshalled in defence of the new priorities. Small grants are said to absorb too much time and effort, then deliver too little impact on the
ground. They refuse economies of scale: the
administration for a new classroom or water pipe can be disproportionately large, compared – say – to the planning for a new road or hospital. Piecemeal efforts are viewed with suspicion by aid officials intent on better coordination of policy.”