NGOs, INGOs hold national confab on DCF

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February 27, 2019

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

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Participants at the YSC hall

International and local Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs,NGOs) yesterday ended one day national conference at the Young Sportsmen Club (YSC) hall on the recently government approved Development Cooperation Framework (DCF) and policy that would guide their activities.

In December 2018, Cabinet approved the DCF, but since its approval, stakeholders within the sector have expressed their dissatisfaction about the said document on the grounds that it was not inclusive, participatory and that its content has the tendency to tighten up their space.

The document among other issues, 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 cost.

But the NGOs have noted that the mandatory membership with SLANGO would violate their freedom of association, while the mandatory administrative structure cannot be feasibly applied to all projects.

Member of the NGO policy working group, Ibrahim Tommy, reiterated that the process that led to the development of the DCF was not ‘inclusive’ and does not represent the views of the larger NGO groups, hence they decided organised the confab so that they would at the end of the day speak with one voice.

“We are not averse to government’s promoting accountability or transparency. What we are against is the attempt to close the space of the NGOs. The languages used in that document are not acceptable at all,” he said.

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

He said the first ever national conference of NGOs was organised to unanimously remind government that the approved DCF was not in the interest of Sierra Leoneans, as the mere attempt to close down the space of NGOs has direct implication on the beneficiaries.

National Coordinator of Women Against Violence and Exploitation, Hannah Yambasu re-echoed that NGOs have a wider coverage as they reach the unreachable, but noted that if government attempts to trample on their space, it would create some problems, thus urging the need for dialogue.

“We are neither against the policy nor fighting with the government. The issue we have is with few clauses in the DCF that is why we want to sit and dialogue with the government,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the end of the conference, it is expected that a document would be developed for onward presentation to government.