Is the NGO good or bad? Who knows? (4)
I am of the same opinion as Mr. Girdler-Brown. Yet, Mr. Burgess
does raise a critical issue on transparency and accountability
on NGOs but asks for help in getting "stories". Mr. Kunihira
asks us to move away from "gathering stories" to finding actual
fact and I propose this to be done as follows:
The first discussion should be on accountability and transpar-
ency within NGOs:
(a) The first issue to find out is what caused NGOs to appear to
lack transparency and accountability. Could the issue be his-
torical? How did NGOs rise and spread in Africa?
(b) When we talk about transparency and accountability - we need
to understand that to an extent, these are value laden terms. So
what do we mean by transparency and accountability, generally
and within NGOs? Then discuss whether or not NGOs can be trans-
parent and accountable and how we can determine this. When we
talk about these terms, are we looking at rations - i.e. the
amount of money that goes to program work via-a-vis NGO over-
heads? Do we want a transparency international for NGOs?
The second area concerns the following:
(a) Just what is the role of NGOs in service delivery? What do
we mean by service delivery? Are NGOs a better method of deliv-
ering services in Africa compared to others? Are we talking
about western NGOs which have branches in Africa, African cre-
ated NGOs, or both?
(b) Are there other methods of service delivery? If so, why have
these been "neglected" and the focus placed on NGOs? How do we
go about improving them? If not, what are the problems and how
can these be resolved? Are they external or internal to Africa?
(c) Are there studies of NGOs in Africa that do a good job? What
lessons should we learn from these?
Maybe this can bring the discussion back to focus.