With well-written proposals and substantial statistics concerning drought-related humanitarian crisis in Somalia, dozens of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are funded with millions of dollars, the money that the organizations claim go directly to the intended purpose often end up in the wrong hands.
While donors continue to pour millions in aid to Africa, creating a high dependency on these funds subsequently making the people NGOs-reliant and at the mercy of donors funds. This dependency makes them vulnerable and easy to compromise and even recruite them into criminal activities.
The communities remain poorer and easily exposed when such help is cut off. For Somalia to self-sustain, irrigation must be encouraged so that the communities can produce their own food and not rely on aid.
This will also help them limit movement as a number of them are pastoralists. NGOs should not prioritize bringing food and encourage self-sustaining projects like irrigation that outlive individuals.
Not all NGO’s are in such category, try to picture the tangible work that USAID or even GEEL have done in the past few years. While the USAID is doing a good progress on a number of programs, GEEL a local NGO working closely with USAID, is also doing a commendable job which deserves to be praised.
Looking at the bigger picture, less than 20 percent goes to the intended projects and often large portion of the 80 percent goes into the pocket of corrupt individual in the organization.
There has been a decline on NGOs in Somalia, this is as a result of a number of factors including internal decision-making process problems, staff retention, fundraising ability and lack of accountability.
There is a general complaint of some NGOs taking photos of completed work or supposedly
done work, and using the same (false) evidence to seek funding from their donors, an indication that corruption and poor leadership which remains a hindrance to good governance and democracy, is also deep rooted within the NGOs. A number are dubbed as “brief-case” NGOs, as the leadership which is normally local use them as vehicles for self-enrichment and pursuing selfish personal agendas. They exist on paper but do not serve the needs of the locals.
Gender bias is also evident in some instances as a number of those organizations have been blamed of not ensuring gender balance when employing staff and this also translates into their questionable activities. Failure to reach the rural vulnerable areas where help is needed is and other thing – there is a joke in town that it is easy for NGOs to access urban areas and take photos for donors and neglect those who truly need the help.
Funding of NGOs is a good thing but it should be done in a transparent manner so that donor funds do not end up funding criminal activities.
Proper civic education and empowering of the local communities will go a long way in achieving this.