The Sierra Leone Association of Non Governmental Organization (SLANGO) over the weekend held their Annual General Meeting at the British Council Auditorium in Freetown where it was revealed that, some NGO’s are misdirecting funds meant for the people.
Speaker after speaker criticized the manner in which some local and International organizations are operating in the country with donor funds as local staff and expatriates are allegedly spending 55% of beneficiary’s money on incentives.
Minister of Trade and Industry who was a former chairman of SLANGO was flanked by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development David Omosholla Carew and Aiah Foday Kabenji Chairman of SLANGO and a host of other NGO representatives.
Alimamy P. Koroma urged NGO’s to facilitate the decentralization process to the hinter land with an effective community participation approach, as the theme for the AGM implied, “NGO’s and the decentralization process”.
The current chairman of SLANGO Aiah Foday Kabenji gave an overview of SLANGO activities in the country and expressed thanks and appreciation to the NGO community particularly the African capacity building foundation in their bid to embark on sustainable developmental programs in the country to improve on the living conditions of the people.
Mr. Kabenji further spoke about progress and challenges facing the NGO community in delivering goods and services and promised to work with the new policy that is geared towards regulating all NGO activities in the country, as performance indicators called on the Government and the private sector to decentralize some state funds to local communities for a bottom top approach.
He also spoke about the proliferation of ill disciplined NGO’s in the country to allow operations that are realistic in any democratic institution so as to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) but criticized the lack of effective monitoring and evaluation of NGO activities for quality service, timeliness and sustainability.
Mr. Kabenji also catalogued SLANGO challenges which include a legal frame work for an NGO policy that will govern NGO’s particularly issues regarding Immigration, taxes and adequate resources to make SLANGO’s presence noticeable and respected.
The United Nations Secretary General representative to Sierra Leone Michael Von der Schulenburg spoke about outstanding United Nations relations with NGO’s that are involved in serving humanity across the world.
He intimated that, plans are currently underway to transform UNIOSIL peace keeping operations in September this year which will see the establishment of coordinating offices in all provincial headquarter towns with adequate logistics that can be used by local and international organizations operating in the country.
He promised the United Nations commitment and determination to improve on health care delivery, promote access to education, support to food security programs and also address human right issues media and corruption that will support effective sustainable developmental projects that will improve the living standard of the people.
Former National Coordinator of NGO’s in Sierra Leone now a member of parliament for the SLPP and also a member of an oversight committee on NGO Hon Eric Jumu said that decentralization brings services to the people and ensures that the people participate actively in decision making and the implementation of community development projects.
Hon. Eric Jumu seriously criticized some NGO staff for failing to consult beneficiaries on their needs and priority rather than imposing community development projects on the people that will be later abandoned, and also noted that some NGO staff are embezzling donor funds with impunity, depriving the poor people of much needed services.
Director of the Decentralization Secretariat Emmanuel Gaima in his presentation appealed to NGO’s and development partners to support the decentralization process for the rapid growth and development of the hinterland who are living in abject hunger and poverty and desperately needs goods and services.
Mr. Gaima added that education, health and agriculture are the major pillars of developing local communities and also urged NGO’s to provide quality and effective service delivery to the people.
Key note speaker David Omosholla Carew Minister of Finance and Economic Development said that good governance can alleviate poverty by decentralizing state functions and NGO activities across the country to reduce some of the difficulties facing the grass root people. Minister Carew expressed disappointment over the utilization of donor funds by some NGO’s operating in the country because a huge bulk of the funds are spent on staff incentives and other unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that has left many sign boards on the road without land mark development. He also noted that his Ministry is currently drafting an NGO policy to regulate their activities in the country with an effective monitoring and evaluation of project implementation and information about the new policy can be obtained at the Finance Ministry desk officer to stop millions of dollars being misdirected from its intended purpose by unscrupulous NGO staff.
Representative of the European Union and the African Capacity Building Foundation delivered similar statements on the lack of effective monitoring and evaluation of developmental projects and the need to decentralize Government and NGO activities to the hinter land
By Saidu Bah