25 February 2013

Rwanda: Are NGOs Perpetuating Dependence Instead of Self-Sufficiency?


Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country are under the spotlight. They are being accused of having no impact after it merged that they spend almost 80 per cent of their budgets on administration, sharply limiting their impact in communities.

The Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, recently observed that the budget of all the NGOs in the country is twice that of the government, but there is no tangible impact of that money on the socio-economic development of Rwandans. This situation is not unique to Rwanda but a problem in other developing countries where the NGO sector is mushrooming.

Many NGOs in Africa spend more than half of their entire budget on administration. While ideally they should provide valuable services, the sector has grown much faster than governments can monitor, creating opportunities for scam artists more eager to enrich themselves than to serve the public.

Although there is documented evidence that NGOs can spur development, they can also stifle development if not well regulated and monitored. In fact, there is a school of thought which believes that NGOs promote dependence instead of self-sufficiency in communities where they operate.

For instance, why do some areas fail to develop even after NGOs have long been present? This is the question the government of Rwanda has to find a solution to. Why is it that despite having a budget twice that of government and having operated in communities for long, there is nothing to show for it? Closer supervision and regulation of the NGO sector in the country may be the starting point.

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