CSOs frown at reviewed NGO policy


January 22, 2019

Angry looks,CSOs  not happy with current  NGO policy

Representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Sierra Leone have seriously frowned at the Development Cooperation Framework (DCF)-the regulatory policy guidelines for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)-which was approved by cabinet in December, 2018.

The said document provided for a mandatory membership of all NGOs with the Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (SLANGO) and a mandatory administrative structure, which stipulates that 70% of all donor funds to an NGO must be directed to targeted beneficiaries and 30% towards administrative costs.

The CSOs observed that the mandatory membership with SLANGO would violate organisation’s freedom of association, while the mandatory administrative structure cannot be feasibly applied to all projects.

According to the group, the DCF would impose severe restrictions on NGOs and would impinge on the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association, which are guaranteed by international human rights laws.

“We feel that the Development Cooperation Framework has great potential to constrain and contract civil society space in Sierra Leone, thus compromising and weakening the vital work of national and international NGOs. We are also disappointed in the nature of the consultative process that was carried out to review the DCF,”the release from the group states,

They said the process could have been significantly more ‘robust, inclusive, and transparent but that it denied the involvement of many CSOs across the country.

They frowned at the enforcement of mandatory signing of Service Level Agreement with sector ministries and the issue of submitting development projects to the sector ministries and that of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development before implementation.

The group noted in a statement that they were committed to promoting and complementing government initiatives that would support the development of Sierra Leone and the enjoyment of human rights for all.

They, however, registered their fullest   acceptance about the need for NGOs to be opened, transparent and accountable to the government.

They also registered their willingness to working hand-in-hand with the government in a spirit of mutual collaboration and expressed optimism that the work will be done within a development framework that promotes true cooperation and enables them to deliver the vital work and services that the people of Sierra Leone deserve.

“We appeal to President Julius Maada Bio, and his administration to listen to our concerns and support a process whereby CSO actors can contribute more fully to constructing a framework that will promote true development cooperation, inclusivity, transparency, multi-directional accountability and respect for international and regional human rights treaties that the country has signed and ratified,” the release says.

Executive Director, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Marcella Samba Sesay, registered dissatisfaction about the DCF and noted that the document, if passed into law in that form, would create severe problems within the state.

She said the spirit behind their dissatisfaction about the said document did not insinuate that they don’t want to be accountable as organisations, but that they have the right to association which the document clearly violates.

“There are a number of provisions in the DCF that violate those rights. As CSOs, a lot of us don’t deliver services, but we hold government to account, so if we have provisions like that, it would bar some of us from holding them accountable,” madam Sesay said.