Friday, 1 April 2011

NGO'S need to be regulated in Namibia

There was a proliferation of NGO’s created during the pre-Independence and immediately thereafter. They are involved in business development, cultural groups, agriculture, Aids, etc. They include international organisations such as the Red Cross, or local chapters of internationally accepted bodies such as the Namibian Society for Human Rights (NSHR). Local NGO’s can work at gender issues such as the Women’s Action for Development (WAD), or animal rights such as the SPCA. They also include a variety of welfare organisations such as the Blood transfusion service or industry interests such as the NCCI or ICT Alliance.

While most NGO’s are doing a good job in Namibia, unfortunately, some have not. They have abused their mandate or become a vehicle for an individual who is seen as the driving force or even “responsible for the success of the organisation”. This leads to the next question, “How do we distinguish between a good and bad NGO?”

The following questions provide us with a litmus test:
• Are their financial statements open for scrutiny?
• What percentage of their budget is spent on salaries and perks for the organisations employees?
• What part of the budget is contributed by governments, directly or indirectly?
• How many of the NGO's operatives are in the field, catering to the needs of the NGO's ostensible constituents?
• Which part of the budget is spent on furthering the aims of the NGO and on implementing its promulgated programs?

I suggest that we have Non-Government Organisation Bill. In this Bill should be addressed the issues of mandate and good governance, and the mechanisms in the case of abuse. It should include a restraint on creation of new frequently unnecessary NGOs (that are mostly more helpful to the creators of the NGO than the people they are designed to serve).