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Sample Essay on Non-Governmental Organizations

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Sample Essay on Non-Governmental Organizations

Introduction

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are considered vital institutions in the development of communities. They are normally founded on voluntary course, with objectives of supporting communities, societies, or persons to improve their standards of living (Meyer, 1996). However, lack of transparency and accountability as a result of poor governance has increasingly led to the fall of many NGOs (Rivera-Santos & Rufín, 2010). In fact, poor governance of internal management is the major cause of downfall in great NGOs. Once accountability and transparency are not prioritized, the development purpose is diluted and the missions that are supposed to be undertaken by the NGOs are aborted. This essay explores critical assignments, which NGOs play in the society from a critical angle. The essay focuses of the aspects of transparency and accountability, which are vital in running non-profit organizations. Taking a case study of Pater Ahlbrinck Stichting, the essay explores its internal management systems and external relationship with various stakeholders. The essay makes use of fundamental facts about the NGO to elaborate the weaknesses in management, and makes reliable suggestions that can be accommodated to increase efficiency in service delivery.

Non-Governmental Organizations

NGOs are vital institutions in development process of many nations. A significant influence of Non-Governmental Organizations has been felt globally, with the least developed nations being the chief beneficiaries of their projects. NGOs are considered vital partners in community development projects in least developed countries (Rahman, 2006). NGOs are autonomous institutions either sponsored by ordinary citizens, a private person, businesses, volunteers, foundations, or the government (Mcloughlin, 2011). Their autonomous roles come from the fact that the government does not own them and their projects are controlled by persons who voluntarily endeavor to support a certain project. In most cases, NGOs get financial support from the government, volunteers and well-wisher in order to back the development projects, which they supervise. However, NGOs are expected to follow the provisions of law as provided by the government in doing their projects (Rivera-Santos & Rufín, 2010).

In Africa and South America, there is a great concentration of NGOs establishment because of great demand triggered by the poor conditions in these continents (Krösschell, 2013). In these zones, NGOs tries to support projects in agriculture, education, and health among others. These institutions offer both short-term and long-term solution to the communities. Short-term solutions include included providing necessary requirements, which are vital at a particular time. For examples, NGOs offer food, clothing and shelter support to victims of war, floods, famine, earthquake and other natural calamities. Long-term solutions include training people and offering education to the community in order to be able to manage community-based programs. In training people, the institutions empower them to become self-reliant and improve their living standards. In addition, NGOs play other roles like supporting the orphans and vulnerable people in the society. This includes supporting victims of diseases like Malaria, Aids, Diabetes, Ebola, and Tuberculosis among others. The support is given through providing employment, food, medication, counseling to the victim of these diseases.

 

Background

Suriname is a small country with an estimated population of 0.5 million with almost 70% of the people in Suriname living below poverty line (CIA world factbook, 2010). The aim of many NGOs established in this country is help in eradicating poverty by establishing different development projects. Actually, 39% of the citizens of Suriname have trust in Non Governmental Organizations with a low percentage of 7% trusting the government in delivering development projects (Martin, 2001). Actually, the people who inhabit the interior regions in the Upper Suriname are quite isolated from the rest of the country and therefore they profit less from economic networks (Kambel, 2006). This situation has rendered the regions vulnerable to poverty and lack of adequate facilities for human development. This is the reason why PAS was initiated in the region to help the people who are quite isolated from the major economical processes in the country. Suriname is a nation with numerous NGOs playing different roles in development programs, human rights initiatives, feministic agenda, religious function, sport activities, community service, academic development, and food security initiatives. NGOs in this country are monitored by the Ministry of Justice and Police, which ensures responsible organizations that abide by the stipulated statutes and by-laws are supported in order to help the government in delivering development plans in different sectors. Majority of the NGOs that operate in Suriname are financed through overseas sources because there is no governmental legislation for financing the NGOs (Karina, 2011 & Muskiet, 2010). This is the main reason behind the low number of NGOs that are able to thrive in Suriname for a reasonable period of time.

However, Pater Ahlbrinck Stichting, which was established in 1968, has withstood the test of time because of its focused programs in tackling development project. PAS was named after Maria Ahlbrinck who had a good record of fighting for the interior people of Suriname between 1920 and 1966 (PAF Manual, 2009). Father Joop Calis initiated the organization and become the first director who led major pioneering project. It has a board of governance, which is composed of one woman and five men. Pater Ahlbrinck Foundation works with various stakeholders including agencies and other organizations in conducting its programs in Suriname. Some of the organizations and bodies that this NGO partners with include, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Regional Development, NVB (National Women Movement), BFN (Office Forum of NGOs), CELOS (Center for Agricultural Research in Suriname), Peace Corp, and Ministry of ATM in Suriname. Its current donors include Skanfonds, Cordaid, OMI, International Ministry of PLOS, and Development Bank, among other small funds donors. Also, PAS is a renown member of the consultation network of NGOs in Suriname. PAS undertakes most of it’s operates in the interior part of Suriname, in the district of Sipaliwini and Apoera region.

The Governance of PAS

Considering a case study of Pater Ahlbrinck Stichting (PAS), which is an established NGO in Suriname, important aspects of NGOs operation and governance can be derived from it. Governance in any organization is a key factor that determines its success or failure (Meyer, 1996). Effective governance ensures wise decisions are made that enable grow of an organization as it endeavors to achieve its objectives and visions. The growth and development of PAS has been as a result of board of governance which is composed six members (PAF Manual, 2009).PAS contributes greatly in establishing development projects in the interior parts of Suriname in an effort to reduce poverty and enhance human development (Bhairo-Marhé, 2009). Though there are big international NGOs that handle multinationals aid programs in the country such as the United Nations, Pater Ahlbrinck Stichting (PAS) which is in the heart of Suriname is impacting a formidable great deal of Sustainable changes by developing Maroon and Indigenous Communities (Mcloughlin, 2011).

Pater Ahlbrinck Foundation produces multi-annual programs, which describes the organizations intentions, activities, and objectives of next period (PAF Manual, 2009). The methods that are used by PAS in administering projects includes, creating long-term relationship with members of the community, working according to the community’s demand, responding to acute health and security cases, empowering the communities and ensuring that the member participate in their own development through offering manpower, materials and money. Currently most of the programs done by PAS are based on education program medical care. This includes building heath stations and clinics in the anterior region that have inadequate medical facilities. To a reasonable extent, the organization has been able to deliver its intension to the communities.

The objective of PAS is to empower the Maroon and the indigenous communities in Suriname in order to reduce poverty level through basic services, training programs and education, economic development projects, and capacity building (Brouns, 2011). Some of the projects that have been initiated under the supervision of the PAS involve improvement of sanitation, drinking water, building multipurpose training areas and improving learning facilities. However, for more than 40 year that the NGO has been in operation, little effect of the organization has been felt. The poverty level among the Maroon community who represents 15% is still leading (Brouns, 2011). The reason behind the slow progress in empowering the Maroon community is because of lack of effective strategies in enforcing long-term projects. Instead of offering short-term aids, the organization should focus on offering long-term solution, which will empower the community and reduce the poverty level significantly. However, poor strategies applied by governance body affects the general outcome in the country level. Deficiencies in governance of Pater Ahlbrinck Stichting have lead to poor performance of the organization in administering its project in the community.

Poor performance by the NGO is a consequence of unrealistic approach of service delivery. Despite the fact that PAS plays vital roles which have made it become popular in Suriname, its method of service delivery are not in the best level comparing to other NGOs like Medical Mission (MZ) which provides health services to the Maroon and indigenous in a better capacity. Due to realistic approach by MZ, it has been mandated by the State of Suriname to offer health care to majority of the isolated communities (Kambel, 2006). MZ employs doctors who offer free services to the communities and in collaboration with the government, it has been able to pay for medicine, salaries, and maintenance cost. The best way of ensuring that an organization firmly is established is by involving the government in establishing its development programs. However, PAS has not been working with the government in initiating its projects. This approach, which is recommended by the governance body of the organization, for the organization to work independently has not been favorable. Normally, organizations are vulnerable to political system of the country. It is quite necessary for PAS to be empowered by the state government in order to be able to serve the Maroon and the indigenous people effectively.

Transparency is a vital aspect in ensuring proper management and stability of an organization. Many failures occur in either, decision-making, utilization of resources or governance in the organization (Lehr-Lehnardt, 2005). The principles and policies of operation of PAS have seen it survive great challenges. However, there has been little expansion seen in the organization due to poor governance. With an experience of more than 40 year, the organization should have expanded far and wide to several parts of Suriname and maybe gone beyond the borders to extend its influence in the international reams. The acceleration of its growth and development is the work of the board of governance, which has failed to invoke different measure of operation. Logically, when similar methods and techniques of operation are used every, it is not reasonable to expect different results.

The fact that PAS are always looking for new donors to fund majority of their projects signifies good intentions that the organization has for people of Suriname. However, it can be quite difficult to get new donors in the projects if there is no transparency and accountability. Lack of transparency and accountability has been a major drawback in the running of these organizations (Earle & Pratt, 2009). In most case, the management ends up taking advantage of the financial provision given to NGOs to plunder and edify their own ambitions and ignore the central role they are supposed to play (Lehr-Lehnardt, 2005).

Among the projects that PAS has introduced in the interior regions of Suriname, one is training program that are offered to the unprivileged members of the society in order to empower them to become self reliant and reduce the dependency ratio (PAF Manual, 2009). These include providing training courses in agriculture, business, bakery, and sewing. The training programs have enabled some community member to earn leaving and in a way helped reduce the rate of poverty in the region. However, these programs lacks proper planning and supervision, which can enable them become more effective and long-term in order to be able to change a greater number of the population. The governance body should come up with a firm resolution of involving the government in implementing long-term education course that can help a greater number of people in Suriname.

As much as PAS endeavors to become more reliable organization, which the government of Suriname can use to deliver medical, agricultural and educational services to the local communities, the governance of the organization must portray the high level of competence in handling critical issues that affect the local society. Their policies must clearly reflect steps they intend to take in administering their services, without compromise in handling timely projects and financial allocations. However, some of the challenges that the NGO face are external pressure. Suriname is a highly fragmented society with more than seven different ethnic groups (Brouns, 2011). As a result of this fragmentation, many conflicts arise due to the organizations initiative in serving social groups within the communities.

One obstacle to good governance in PAS is lack gender equality in governance and gender parity is evident in the board of management. The board of governance has one woman and five men a clear indication of gender parity (PAF Manual, 2009). Considering the advantages that come with balancing gender in governance of organizations, a good balance can influence great innovative programs due to different abilities portrayed by each gender. Women tend to be more concerned and evaluative and therefore involving them in leadership can help reduce corruption incidences that increase performance in the organization. However, a good balance of gender does not ascertain excellent performance of the organization since personality is also a determinant of good leadership.

PAS has had an outstanding cooperation with the authorities. In order to carry out their key mandate to raise the welfare of the locals, the NGO has been compliant to by-law that covers private and NGOs network in the country. The NGO has enjoyed a mutual collaboration with departments such as, Ministries of Education, Regional Development, Ministry of labor, Technological Development and Environment (Karina, 2011). In Suriname, non-governmental organizations are largely recognized as partners with the Government. This has made it smooth for the NGO to initiate different projects and help in major crisis. To reach the realization of their goals and objectives therefore has been easily attainable. The contrast in Suriname is that there are no parameters and quality control mechanism by the government to oversee projects and demand financial accountability (Martin, 2001). This situation has made the NGO to operate in a rather autonomous manner in handling its projects and allocation of funds. Through the board of governance, the funds are allocated to different projects. However, poor allocation of funds by the board has resulted to stagnation in some projects. Other projects have failed because of probable mismanagement of funds. After drawing an estimate budget and allocating funds for the project, it can ends up failing due to unnecessary spending and materialism in the management. The board of governance should enforce strict measures to control spending and allocation fund.

PAS offers support to 59 communities in the entire region of Suriname (PAF Manual, 2009). Every community has a particular target or multiple of them working towards a certain goal. Therefore, supervision is conducted on those projects to ensure that they done within the targeted time frame. Conducting many projects at the same time demand a lot of flexibility in management in order to ensure proper supervision is done to all projects. Such task demand great level of responsibility and high labor force. However, it would be difficult and challenging to run many programs at the same time with little labor force. Loopholes of financial management arise in such situation when it becomes difficult to coordinate many projects. It would have been most appropriate if the projects were done in a particular order considering need and urgency. Initiating few projects in areas with great need and following them up until they gain a self-sustaining momentum, then, starting other projects in other regions would be a better approach method that is easy to manage and account for.

Recommendation

As much as the NGOs have some level of autonomy, accountability and transparency must be portrayed in all levels. Accountability cannot be overlooked in any way, and therefore the NGOs should endeavor to provide a true account of how it manages its projects. NGOs should coordinate with bodies established by government to check accountability in the institutions. With the proliferation of NGOs, there are major challenges that are bond to occur in regulation of their performance. In addition, as the NGOs are being trusted with delivery of vital services to the society, it is important to ensure proper administration of the projects through compliant management system (Mcloughlin, C. (2011).

Reducing unnecessary expense through use of cost efficient systems can help the organizations undertake their projects with great success (Kusek & Rist, 2004). Prioritizing on the systems that are used to establish the organizations and then working on vital projects can keep the institutions at a successful zone. The donors should take the responsibility of following up their contribution to ensure that they serve the intended purpose. Bold steps should be taken by the management board, donors, and the stakeholders to check and regulate the performance of the NGOs. After taking a bold step of a facing the challenges in delivering transparent and accountable projects, it is more likely to compel the government to support and entrust NGOs with greater responsibilities.

Conclusion

Considering the vital roles that PAS play in Suriname, it can be justifiable to say that major development projects in the least developed nations are works of the NGOs. For the PAS to be trusted with effecting vital services, it is necessary to have proper management system. The NGOs play a vital role of harnessing financial resources from individuals and make proper planning to utilize them in development programs. As it has been clearly portrayed in the essay, governance plays important role in ensuring the success of an organization in its plans and objectives. In the case of Suriname, PAS need to be more focused in ensuring proper governance in order to be able to deliver its help to the unprivileged group in the country. With many government agencies, which provide resources to the NGOs, in order to provide better services, it is important to have accountability. Accountability should be a two-way projection, such that the NGOs can account for the fund given by the donors and portray effective responsibility of providing the required services to the society. Therefore, it is in order to ascertain that the most vital aspect is its management. Proper management ensures that the funds allocated do not deviate to unnecessary spending which affects most of the NGOs. In addition, in order to encourage donor and well-wishers to continue supporting certain projects, it is important to have a management that is accountable to every resource provided to support the organization. It is appropriate for the small NGOs to emulate reputable International NGOs in making appropriate changes and implementation of necessary policies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Brouns, R. (2011) People in the beating heart of theAmazon. 

CIA world factbook (2010). 

Earle, L., & Pratt, B. (2009). Indigenous social movements and international NGOs in the Peruvian Amazon. International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) Occasional Papers Series, (49).

Kambel, E. R. (2006). Indigenous peoples and Maroons in Suriname. Inter-American Development Bank.

Karina, S. (2011). Justify your actions (Doctoral dissertation, Institute of Social Studies, ErasmusUniversity Rotterdam).

Krösschell, C. (2013). Challenges of promoting multiple accountabilities in fragile contexts: experiences of a Swiss international non-governmental organisation. Journal of International Development25(6), 854-865. doi:10.1002/jid.2934

Kusek, J. Z., & Rist, R. C. (2004). Ten steps to a results-based monitoring and evaluation system: a handbook for development practitioners. World Bank Publications.

Lehr-Lehnardt, R. (2005). NGO legitimacy: reassessing democracy, accountability and transparency. In Cornell Law School Inter-University Graduate Student Conference Papers (p. 6).

Martin, D. (2001). Governance in Suriname. Inter-American Development Bank.

Mcloughlin, C. (2011). Factors affecting state-non-governmental organisation relations in service provision: Key themes from the literature. Public Administration & Development31(4), 240-251. doi:10.1002/pad.611

Meyer, C. A. (1996). NGOs and environmental public goods: Institutional alternatives to property rights. Development and Change, 27(3), 453-474.

PAF Manual. (2009) Multi-annual program of 2010 – 2012.

Puentes, R., Mozas, A., Bernal, E., & Chaves, R. (2012). E‐corporate social responsibility in small non‐profit organisations: the case of Spanish ‘Non Government Organisations’. Service Industries Journal32(15), 2379-2398. doi:10.1080/02642069.2012.677831

Rahman, S. (2006). Development, democracy and the NGO sector theory and evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of developing societies, 22(4), 451-473.

Rivera-Santos, M., & Rufín, C. (2010). Odd Couples: Understanding the Governance of Firm-NGO Alliances. Journal of Business Ethics9455-70. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0779-z

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