The 2019 International NGO Accountability Conference began on a high note on Thursday in Malawi’s lakeshore District of Mangochi with the key note speakers calling upon Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country to be accountable themselves in order to have a moral ground on which they can criticize government and other service providers.
The calls have been made amid revelations that NGOs are collectively handling about MK1.2 trillion annually and yet, the impact of most of them, is not felt in communities.
There are also revelations that out of 671 NGOs only 184 have submitted financial and other relevant reports to the NGO Board in the period covering June 2017 to June 2018.
Calls by the key note speakers also come considering that NGOs are mostly critical of the government while believing that their own actions are “always well-intentioned” and cannot be questioned.
The NGO Board of Malawi has organized the conference under the topic: Matching Aid with Need; Aligning to National and Local Structures.
The conference has drawn together scores of local and international NGO representatives, donor community and government officials to reflect on how best they can be accountable to communities.
In her remarks, the British High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett, expressed concern over NGOs non-compliance in reporting to the NGO Board, describing the conduct as a bad practice.
“It means people are being denied access to information pertaining to services and activities the NGOs are doing in their areas. Laws and policies must be further strengthened to enhance transparency and accountability in the NGO sector,” said Tett.
On the other hand, Board Chairperson for Uganda NGO Bureau, Charles Oleny Ojok, observed that NGOs must also consider reporting directly to their beneficiaries because they are the ones they are serving.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha, emphasized that reforms must begin with NGOs themselves if their criticisms towards government can be seen to be in good faith.
“It is sad that many NGOs are not reporting to the NGO Board. It means the public cannot access statements for these NGOs through the board. They are not being accountable.
“We must maximize the citizens benefits from the NGO sector and that can only happen when the sector is accountable and really focusing on developing the country,” said Navicha.
Presidential Advisor on NGOs and civil society, Mavuto Bamusi, concurred with the minister, adding that NGOs should be responsible enough to avoid corruption and abuse of donor funds because there should not be sacred cows when it comes to issues of transparency and accountability.
According to Malawi NGO Board Chief Executive Officer Voice Mhone, the conference, being held for the second time in the country, is an opportunity for Malawian NGOs to share notes on how best their interventions can begin to be of impact in communities.
“All we are saying is that they too must be accountable because they get all those donor funds in the name of Malawians,” said Mhone.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :