NGO bill – a case of "throwing the baby with the bathwater"

Posted: November 14, 2013 in Centre for Research and Technology Development, CooP-Africa, Corruption, Dr. Hezron Mc'Obewa, ILO, KTN, Moses Kuria, NGO, NGO Bill, NGO Coordinations Board, NGO Funding, Parliament
This post was originally made on my other Blog Siasa 254

I sit and wonder where this country would be today without the effort that NGOs are putting towards helping us achieve Millennium Development Goals and our vision 2030 development blueprint. Funds from the donor community have for a long time enabled us to make  strides in healthcare, education, agriculture, micro-enterprise and governance.

Several hospitals have been put up or upgraded by funds from the donor community. 50 years of independence today and NGOs are putting up schools in parts of this country that were neglected by the four governments that we’ve had. Donor funds are giving dry areas of our country clean drinking water, they are powering homes with renewable energy, they are improving access to healthcare and that list is endless.

I am very passionate about this having worked in the NGO sector for the past three years. In fact my first serious employer after leaving media school in 2009 was an NGO. I can’t imagine how many young Kenyans like me would be unemployed today if it was not for the existence of these NGOs.

When the government complains about lack of transparency in the use of NGO funds, I sit and wonder just what they are referring to. I think the government itself should borrow a leaf from how NGO funds are accounted for. I have worked with a project funded by the ILO in a local NGO and I met the most strict financial administration system. Water-tight procurement processes that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the public sector.

I then worked for CooP-Africa a Dutch NGO that operates in six African countries with the focus of reducing poverty through providing access to education, healthcare and wealth creation. It was one of the most well managed organizations I have ever worked with. The donors were very strict…cross-checked every receipt and every payment voucher. I remember once representatives from Safaricom Foundation told one of our Project Officers there that they have never seen funds so well accounted for.

Today I work with the Centre for Research and Technology Development a policy research institute affiliated to Maseno University, though not an NGO we get most of our funding from NGOs to carry out research on various issues regarding food security, healthcare and governance. Again, the financial reporting process is impeccable.

That is not to say that we don’t have “chaff among the wheat.” 

NGOs are managed by people and people even from the most developed countries or even with the most strict of rules still have their human nature and greed coming before their professionalism at times. We have had our own share of issues with corruption, tribalism (ethnicity and nepotism) and outright professional malpractice. This is however the exception rather than the norm in the NGO sector.

I was watching KTN on Sunday and I was amazed when Moses Kuria claimed that the donor community do not ask for accountability from NGOs. I would like to meet such a donor.

Like I said we have challenges…and we have organizations that are giving NGOs a bad name. What we need are laws to strengthen the NGOs Coordination Board that is currently headed by Dr. Hezron Mc’Obewa instead of retrogressive legislation that throws a blanket condemnation of NGOs and frustrates funding opportunities. Click here to download the proposed amendments I am referring to. 

The government needs to realize that NGOs are its partners in development. Some NGOs deal with governance issues and have to come out and warn the government and its leaders where they are sidetracking. When that happens, it is immoral for members of parliament to revenge by trying to stifle foreign funding for these organizations or NGOs in general.

The NGO fraternity in this country should be appreciated for the great work they are doing to ensure that we have a just society, a healthy nation and an educated population.

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