— Says it lacks the framework for enhancing monitoring, coordination, and collaboration between government and CSOs
A three-day workshop aimed at reviewing the National Aid and NGO policy, as well as CSOs professional standards development, has ended in Monrovia with a call to the government to suspend the 2020 National Aid and NGO Policy with immediate effect for revision by multiple stakeholders.
The meeting, which ran from February 17-19, 2021, brought together representatives from the CSOs community, funded by the European Union, and co-funded by the Irish Aid, and SIDA with joint implementation by Mercy Corps Liberia; Kvinna Till Kvinna (KtK) through its Supporting Effective Advocacy in Liberia known as SEAL project.
The workshop was also intended to ignite a platform through the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) to initial policy, institutional reforms and re-intergenerational change.
Mrs. Loretta Alethea Pope Kai, who read the position statement at the climaxed of the workshop, pointed out that the policy focuses more on aid regulation, which overshadows NGOs/CSOs coordination that giving the right to association as it is enshrined in the constitution of Liberia.
She said the policy also lacks the framework to enhance government and NGOs/CSOs’ monitoring, coordination, and collaboration. It should be recalled that the government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has launched the 2020 National Aid and NGO Policy with the aim of improving the effectiveness of aid, mobilizing aid to a broader extent in a coordinated manner, producing more visible results, collaborating more closely with NGOs and serving as a reference for the Government and Development Partners in the management of official development assistance.
Against this context, Mrs. Pope Kai claimed that the mechanism and procedures leading to the Certification of the document were not inclusive and did not represent the essential aspect of diverse voices, and endanger share ownership by all actors of civil society.
However, she noted that the primary objective of the policy is to ensure successful cooperation, collaboration, regulations, and coordination of NGOs, but that NCSCL recognizes that it should provide an overarching structure and direction for engagement of NGOs as partners in the national development process.
Mrs. Pope Kai said that the effective implementation of such a policy co-exists with a robust institutional and legal structure, political engagement, and adequate resources, and with the commitment of all stakeholders to be part of its formulation.
The title policy, she said, has already endangered the key social capital of trust between CSOs and the Government.
Mercy Corps Director of Programs, Christopher Mzembe, said he was very much elated for such an initiative. “We support CSOs and the only advocacy that you can count on us to do is that we advocate with the donors. We deliver based on what we see on the ground or what we hear from you and we fast-track it with the donor,” he clarified.
He said for CSO members to advocate is very easy but to be effective is very important. Mzembe added, The change that I intend to see is more cooperation among CSOs in the same sector, more cooperation from all CSOs under one concept and working together as one body. If that happens, instead of the donors giving us money for capacity building, they will give you money directly for service delivery.
He continued, “We are very aware that we can do a lot of things, get a lot of money from a donor and support a lot of the needs but it made not sustain unless the people themselves are engaged and willing to take it on.”
For her part, Madam Mabel Kear, a representative from KtK, used the occasion to express gratitude to the government for crafting the policy and all the efforts that were put into it.
She also lauded the CSO partners for the vision to come together and collectively review the policy and come up with recommendations that they have. Madam Kear said, Under the SEAL project, funded by EU and co-funded by Irish Aid and SIDA, we are very delighted to provide the kind of support that will enhance effective advocacy in Liberia.
The KtK representative said, advocacy is a whole component of what we do, promoting women’s rights and we will be very much delighted to provide any support that we can to enhance capacity, increase collective efforts of partnership, and work together to make the SEAL project successful and to work with CSOs to drive their vision forward.
She hopes that the government will be able to get back to CSOs with good feedback that will help them move forward with this initiative.
Dwede Tarpeh, SIDA representative praised the NCSCL for the step taken in reviewing the policy together with the CSOs and partners. She said this would enhance a participatory process and build great relationships that would provide the partners and government with the effective advocacy that they seek.
She also said SIDA is committed to ensuring that CSOs are fully equipped to advocate effectively and efficiently.
Alfred D. Jardiah, Sr, Director of NGO Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, in his remarks, acknowledged the efforts made by the CSOs and partners to hold the workshop and admonished them to take a step further in the revision and recommendation process to be submitted to the Ministry.
Governance Commission Elizabeth W. Duncan urged the NCSCL to ensure that the registration and accreditation processes provided for in the policy are in line with the CSOs registration and accreditation procedures.
The GC boss noted that, highlighted that the policy aligns development partners and NGO activities with government development mechanisms, specifically the Pro-Poor Agenda for prosperity and development (the PAPD).