INGOs Searching Relief

As Nepal’s political process shows no immediate sign of settlement, it will have far reaching consequences on Nepal’s development process. The instability and uncertainty factors are likely to create more hurdles for Nepal’s development partners, par

Aug. 13, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 06 No.-06 Aug. 10-2012 (Shrawan 26,2069)<br>

Be it during a major flood in Rapti or diarrhea epidemic in Jajarkot, it is the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) which reach the spots with relief packages to support the government in carry out the necessary services to the needy people.


Even in the recent floods in the mid-western region in Dang, Kapilbastu and Banke, where over two dozen people died and hundreds of houses were washed away and crops worth millions of rupees devastated, INGOs went with relief materials to support the government’s efforts.


According to the Social Welfare Council, there are over 200 INGOs registered with the Council working in health, education, human rights, climate change, democracy and other such issues in all 75 districts of Nepal. 


As Nepal’s political process continues to shake, it will definitely affect the overall government’s development policy. Due to a lack of strong leadership at the government level, there are cases of virtual anarchy among various government ministries.


The caretaker government, by nature, cannot take any major policy decision. As the stability of the prime minister and the government depends on the unity of coalition partners, their priorities will be in placating the partners to keep the coalition intact rather than dealing with the development agenda and INGOs.


Due to the lack of coordination and failure to understand their legal roles, other ministries are stepping in and projecting themselves as organizations to regulate and register INGOs. The Foreign Minister, in his recent statement, stressed that INGOs must be regulated by Ministry since they are international organizations. Similarly, the Ministry of Finance is reportedly preparing policies to bring the financial contributions made by civil society organizations under the scrutiny of foreign aid division.


The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare is nowhere as the current minister represents a small political party which has no significant influence at all to take the case of the ministry to the cabinet level, compared to the access of the foreign ministry, and finance ministry.


The Social Welfare Council Act authorizes the Social Welfare Council as the sole body to deal with the entire affairs of the NGOs and INGOs. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare is another institution created to monitor and regularize these organizations.


AIN and SWC Interactions

Given ongoing confusions and contradictions, the Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN) and the Social Welfare Council (SWC), the government apex body for I/NGOs, jointly organized an interaction program to share and discuss issues of mutual interest and concern, and to explore ways of working together to create a more favorable working environment for development work in the country.


Attended by representatives of AIN and its member INGO’s, SWC officials, representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Ministry of Finance, National Planning Commission and bilateral donors, the function saw various stake holders trying to understand each other’s difficulties.


Among the issues shared and discussed were expectations from each other, policy related and procedural challenges faced by INGOs, strengthening the capacity of SWC and making it well resourced and making one window policy more effective.


Issues such as balancing between sectors and geographical areas (by INGOs), customs duty and tax/VAT exemption, coordination between local bodies and INGOs, earmarked funds and improving monitoring and evaluation of projects were also discussed.


“The need is of mindset change so that SWC is perceived as a facilitator body and not as a controlling one and that AIN was ready to work with SWC in future,” said AIN Chair Ashutosh Tiwari. 


 SWC, which is now itself in a weak position, shows that it is ready to work with AIN.  “We need to form a task force comprising representatives of SWC, AIN and the ministries concerned. It would develop guidelines on key areas of mutual concern, including monitoring and evaluation of projects,” said Ravindra K Shah, the Member Secretary of SWC.


Others too agreed. “We need to come together to have better understanding about each other. This kind of regular interaction will help to fill the gap existing between SWC and INGOs,” said Dr. Dibesh Chandra Regmi, AIN Steering Committee Member.

As Nepal’s current transition is likely to go for a few more years with weak coalition governments at the center, INGOs will face more difficult times in the process of implementing the projects. This will ultimately hit the projects run for the poor and marginalized population of Nepal.


At present circumstances, when the government development budget continues to decline and the government cannot allocate additional budget for new projects, the pressure will mount on INGOs to continue work. Failure of the government to bring a full budget has been a likely cause to affect programs and projects with a long term agenda.  However, by prolonging the political instability, various ministries have continued to indulge in the controversies over regulating the INGOs.  This will restrict the INGOs including AIN members.


“Here the interaction between AIN and SWC has its significance to find a way out. The interaction has helped to improve better understanding and clarity about each other in key issues of concern,” said Dr. Regmi. “This help to facilitate collaboration in the area of common development interest for improving the systems towards transparent and accountable.”


AIN’s Role

The process of improving understating between AIN members and SWC started since when Achyut Luitel was chair of the AIN. Out of over 200 INGOs registered in Nepal, 100 INGOs have a network through AIN.


“Although AIN is a small player in Nepal’s aid economy with just over 10 billion rupees annual contribution, their role is much bigger in terms of the contributions they do. Not only in the areas of development but they also play role in advocacy and rights based issues,” said Ashutosh Tiwari.  “Key shared values of AIN members include advancing the public good, no discrimination, serving the poor and the excluded people of Nepal, working through local partners and maintaining transparency and accountability.”


Where AIN Work

Recently, there is a wide criticism against the role of INGOs. INGOs are even blamed for encouraging  and supporting ethnic issues in Nepal. After the collapse of the Constituent Assembly, the government officials forwarded the idea that they needed more hardware projects. Even some ministries including Home and foreign proposed ways to restrict INGOs.


However, they forgot that INGOs had played many other roles in development. One of the important aspects of AIN members is that they work in places where the local economy has not developed and in places where the government and local organizations/communities need (technical and other) assistance.


 A recent study (BS 2066/67) showed that AIN members (60 INGOs) made a total annual contribution of about 10 billion rupees, which worked out to be: 6 % of development budget,12 % of foreign aid,15 % of total grant,45 % of foreign loans and 18 % of deficit budget.


AIN members’ work covers all 75 districts. Their aim is to contribute to an improved quality of life of Nepal’s people. Local partners’ work is often embedded in the fabric of local institutions and communities. AIN members focus on sustainable and equitable development, environmental protection and humanitarian response.  They work on sectors such as education, health, mitigating the effects of climate change, human rights, small-scale rural infrastructure, water and sanitation, child protection issues, and many, many more.


AIN’s values and governance mechanisms emphasize service, knowledge sharing, national and international replication of best practices, and minimizing duplication of efforts.


Where AIN Work

Recently, there is a wide criticism against the role of INGOs. INGOs are even blamed for encouraging  and supporting ethnic issues in Nepal. After the collapse of the Constituent Assembly, the government officials forwarded the idea that they needed more hardware projects. Even some ministries including Home and foreign proposed ways to restrict INGOs.


However, they forgot that INGOs had played many other roles in development. One of the important aspects of AIN members is that they work in places where the local economy has not developed and in places where the government and local organizations/communities need (technical and other) assistance.


 A recent study (BS 2066/67) showed that AIN members (60 INGOs) made a total annual contribution of about 10 billion rupees, which worked out to be: 6 % of development budget,12 % of foreign aid,15 % of total grant,45 % of foreign loans and 18 % of deficit budget.


AIN members’ work covers all 75 districts. Their aim is to contribute to an improved quality of life of Nepal’s people. Local partners’ work is often embedded in the fabric of local institutions and communities. AIN members focus on sustainable and equitable development, environmental protection and humanitarian response.  They work on sectors such as education, health, mitigating the effects of climate change, human rights, small-scale rural infrastructure, water and sanitation, child protection issues, and many, many more.


AIN’s values and governance mechanisms emphasize service, knowledge sharing, national and international replication of best practices, and minimizing duplication of efforts.


The pattern of relations

One of the hindrances now is general incomplete understanding of INGOs: what they are, what they do, how they work, how they are governed. “INGOs’ contributions are overlooked (Red Book, White Book, Nepal Development Forum, etc). There are lengthy processes to receive approvals from DDCs and VDCs, unclear legislative framework and lack of clarity on coordinating authorities and unclear guidelines for evaluation processes,” said Tiwari.


There is demand for facilitative bureaucracy for procedural work (such as project agreement and general agreement and visa renewal) when all INGOs have been experiencing delays, lengthy processes, fines and lack of clarity.


“We are making efforts to shorten the PA process and visa renewal process for the expats working in INGOs,” said Madan Rimal, director of Social Welfare Council. “We are making a plan to take up all these issues.” 


“We want to have good relations with INGOs and want to settle the problems faced by them. Their contribution is in launching programs focused to the socially excluded, geographically marginalized and economically backward community,” said Mohan Sharma, member of SWC.  “Select district, groups, class whose Human Development Index is low and there must be the balance between hardware, software, economic empowerment and service delivery components.”


Despite their contributions in uplifting the life of rural population and serving them at the time of desperate need, International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) are still facing a lot of problems in the process. They have been playing an important role in Nepal’s development efforts. However, their work remains to be fully appreciated by the government officials, political leaders, and even the civil society members and the media.

More on National

The Latest

Latest Magazine

VOL 12 No.05, September 21, 2018 (Ashoj. 05, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

VOL 12 No.04, September 07, 2018 (Bhadra 22, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

VOL 12 No.03, August 17, 2018 (Bhadra 01, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

VOL 12 No.02, August 03, 2018 (Shrawan 18, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75