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Friday, February 24, 2012

FOUR HUNDRED CBOs/NGOs IN KABAROLE DISTRICT: How Valid and Relevant are they?

We have four hundred CBO/NGOs in Kabarole District, but not all are compliant to the law and functional” remarked Mr. Tadeo Balisanga the Community Development Officer (CDO) Kabarole District.

Mr. Balisanga said this at the NGO evaluation meeting held on 22.02.12 at Mucwa. Opening the meeting Balisanga noted that his office is mandated to register, coordinate and monitor the operations of all CBO/NGOs in the District. He however apologized for the continued inconsistence in conducting NGO coordination meetings which he attributed to inadequate resources.

Mr. Balisanga informed the meeting that he had received a communication from NGO Board warning him of the increased NGO operations in the country which need to be closely monitored because some of these organizations are allegedly involved in criminal campaigns/work. Accordingly NGO Board had requested his office for an update of all the registered organizations in the District and what they do; and to this he had called for this evaluation meeting.

Explaining the purpose of the meeting, Mr. Balisanga said it is to get all the organizations in Kabarole together to share their work with the District because many NGOs are doing work that the Government is not aware of. The meeting was to also remind the different organizations to regularly update/renew their registration with the District every two years.

He added that all organizations are expected to share their reports, budgets, and work plans with the District, asserting that “if Government can display their work plans and budgets why not Civil Society, I challenge you to walk the talk”

Responding to the CDO’s communication, members raised a number of issues expressing their dissatisfaction over the relationship between the District leadership and their operations. Members noted that most times both District and sub county leaders shun away from CBO/NGO meetings whenever called upon especially those that are not financially or adequately facilitated. This they said has created a big gap between the two parties and has left either suspicious of the other.

Lack of routine monitoring of CBOs/NGOs by the District leadership was also raised by the members saying this is the reason why Government has continuously undermined the contribution of CSOs in society and also gets them framing CSOs as anti-Government agents.

Commenting on the unrecognized contribution CSOs were making in Society one Mr. Mihanji of Parents Concern revealed that his Organization had built eight permanent houses for widows in Fort portal Municipality alone costing over 180million but it is unfortunate that the District/Municipality is not even aware and appreciative of this. He appealed for a closer collaboration between Government and CSOs.

In addition to this, the meeting also appreciated the fact that many organizations are not familiar with the NGO policy and requirements and at this it was recommended that the office of the CDO should get this policy distributed to the CBOs/NGOs in the District.

Summing up the discussion, several other recommendations/appeals were made by the members. These included;

  1. Government to revamp her monitoring system of NGOs, challenging that why has Government always complained of Briefcase organizations yet they have never exposed or closed up any especially in Kabarole District.
  2. The District to call for bi-annual coordination meetings of all CBOs/NGOs in the District.
  3. The CDO’s office to mobilize/fundraise monies to conduct the coordination meetings from the different organizations in the District incase his office is not in position to facilitate them.
  4. CDO’s at the sub county level should be tasked to also conduct similar meetings and monitoring visits of the CBOs/NGOs in their sub counties.
  5. The District should consider extending the funds allocated for capacity building to CBOs and NGOs as well.
  6. RIC-NET to support the CDO in mobilizing other organizations for coordination meetings through its bulk Sms program.
  7. CBOs/NGOs to routinely share their work plans, budgets and reports with the District and the CDO is to develop a particular reporting and work plan format and share it with all organizations for uniformity.
  8. All the CBOs that did not come along with their certificates of registration, work plans, budgets and reports should ensure that they are availed to the office of the CDO by end of February 2012.

Closing the meeting the RDC, Kabarole District thanked the office of the CDO for conducting such a meeting and especially for inviting him to this meeting which he said is the first of its kind that he has attended in the Rwenzori region. He thanked all the members for the great work that their organizations are doing in their different fields of work.

He said Government appreciates the role and contribution of CSOs and would never take it for granted. He apologized for the poor monitoring and collaboration and promised that he was going to ensure that this weakness is addressed.

He advised members to work towards making their organizations self sustaining with less reliability on donor funding because this will keep them in business after the donor funding ends.

He however warned that he was going to institute a committee to keenly study the operations and visibility of all the organizations in the District and he will make sure that at least by the end of this year the number has been reduced to 300 only or less because many organizations are not functional any way while some are allegedly undermining Government efforts.

This meeting was attended by approximately 45 members from the different CBOs and NGOs in Kabarole District.