NGOs operating in Ntcheu avoid ‘remote areas’

Almost all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Ntcheu District are avoiding hard-to-reach areas, a study conducted by the NGO Board of Malawi has revealed.

According to the study, which was conducted between November 2020 to January 2021, there are 31 NGOs in Ntcheu.

NGO workshop

And out of those NGOs, 25 are registered with the NGO Board of Malawi, a state-owned registrar and regulator of all NGOs and civil society organisations in the country.

The study, according to NGO Board’s district service officer for Ntcheu Priyanka Jere, involved interactions with Area Development Committee (ADC) members, Traditional Authorities (TAs), secretaries to TAs, ADC chairpersons and secretaries.

The study, whose data was reportedly verified by the NGOs themselves, was aimed at establishing the “fair” distribution of NGOs projects across the district.

Speaking during the presentation of the findings of the study to the District Executive Committee (DEC), Jere bemoaned the tendency of shunning remote areas by NGOs, saying this will make communities in such areas remain vulnerable.

“During the exercise, it came to our attention that distribution of projects among non-governmental organizations is mainly focusing in areas with easy accessibility. However, as a board, we will continue engaging NGOs for fair distribution of developmental activities across the district,” Jere said.

Vice Chairperson for Ntcheu Civil Society Network, Lemani Ngaiyaye, said most of the operations of NGOs in the district are determined by donors supporting the interventions of such organizations.

“Donors call for proposals for us to express interest. However, such proposals usually indicate where to work hence we do not have options but abide by donors’ interests,” Ngaiyaye said.

The NGO Board of Malawi study further reveals that the health sector topped the list of NGO interventions in Ntcheu at 26% seconded by the agriculture sector at 22%.

The findings of the study have since sparked an “interesting” debate among stakeholders who are wondering who should really assign NGOs work across a district.

One NGO official, who refused to be named, had this to say: “Donors, normally, do not dictate where to work. It is up to those who seek donor intervention. But even then, the final say hinges on the DEC meeting whether to allow a particular NGO to operate in that area or the other”.

The unnamed NGO official further explained that while donor can dictate when it is within the districts, it is not possible with Traditional Authorities as this depends on available data of what the objectives of the projects are.

“But sometimes it also happens those consultations were not done during proposal development and once the project has been funded, the DEC is just being told we are going to implement in that TA,” said another official.

Added another one: “Actually, donors do not dictate. Some donors choose areas according to their needs assessments or baseline surveys they conduct prior to project inception”.

“An NGO cannot just come and work in a certain area. In my understanding, the DEC has the mandate even to say no to that NGO.”

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