Tamale — Two ministers have taken non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector to task for not providing political administrators with information on their support programmes for communities.
The Ministers - Enoch Teye Mensah for Water Resources, Works and Housing and Moses Bukari Mabengba for Northern Region - want NGOs to report on their modus operandi for supporting communities as well as the costs of the support services for the WASH sector.
Mr Mabengba indicates exactly what they are after as follows: "We want to read from them that this year we have supported this people with this number of facilities and here are the communities" and "these were the financial contributions associated with the provision of the services."
He was addressing participants of the 23rd edition of the Mole Conference series (Mole XXIII) in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, where more than 100 persons from civil society, policy institutions, donor agencies/countries, traditional authorities and media gathered to discuss WASH financing.
The conference, which was held from August 21 to 25, was organised by CONIWAS under the theme "Financing the WASH Sector: Past, Current Trends and Vision for the Future."
Mr Mabengba's demands were premised on a claim that the regional administration was unaware of a lot of NGOs working on WASH sector interventions and how they went about their work. "Some of them enter communities without our knowledge and support them without going through the standard procedures and authorities."
Consequently, he warned: "My message is that these NGOs should start reviewing their activities before we sanction them."
That notwithstanding, he indicated that his administration would rely on the umbrella body for NGOs in the WASH sector, the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) to "help us solve this challenge."
On his part, Hon Mensah, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, says that much as the Ministry appreciates working together with other stakeholders, including NGOs, it was unacceptable for NGOs to neither report on their activities nor follow procedures.
He said many of the NGOs had failed to submit annual reports to the Registrar General Department, district assemblies and the Department of Social Welfare. "I am also aware that some NGOs implement their programmes with, if any, little regard to Sector Policies, Strategies and guidelines."
Also appalling is the fact that "the 2010 Sector Performance Report captured contributions from only 10 local NGOs" even though there are scores of NGOs around, he lamented in a speech delivered on his behalf by Hon Nii Nortey Dua, a deputy Minister at the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH).
But indications from the NGO sector are that the reporting is done, albeit not at the national level. The challenge, therefore, could be one of coordination between district assemblies, regional administrations and national level actors.
Mr Benjamin Arthur, Executive Secretary for CONIWAS - a coalition of more than 80 organisations - says local NGOs usually report to larger NGOs which fund their programmes. The bigger NGOs, particularly international NGOs, then have responsibility to report on the activities to the district level through the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and the district assemblies.
Concurring, Mr Atta Arhin, National Project Coordinator for Global Water Initiative Ghana, said the practice is that INGOs report through the CWSA systems. Nonetheless, their primary reporting line is to their donors.
Ultimately, the information should get to the district and so if the information is lacking then it could be attributed to inadequate coordination and collaboration between various actors at the district, regional and ministerial levels.