International rule of law for NGOs

By Dr Khalil, Canada Activities of NGOs started some 40 years back in Chitral. It is surprising, after passage of that long period majority of people in Chitral have not been able to distinguish between working strategy of NGOs and government. Most of us think that NGOs are parallel institutions to government agencies, and consider the project of NGO same as any government project. In fact the working strategies of NGOs are entirely different then what we perceive. In fact these are two different cups of coffee. Though there are multiple types of NGOs working around the world with different strategies, here we are talking about the types of NGOs working in Chitral, (the civil society organization working at community level) Unlike Govt projects, NGOs launch project only in villages where there formal or informally organized community exists. For instance “Wylat” in khowar, is the best example of informal community organization, which is pre-requisite of majority of the NGOs and donors to work in certain community. Unlike Govt, the community must have share in the cost of NGO project in form of money. Though most of the NGOs relieve the burden of community share in project with, calculating the cost of some other things related to project available in the area. Mostly items of 0 salvage value or objects of no opportunity cost are counted as community share. The second very important thing we must understand is that, the project of NGO on completion comes under ownership of community, and the NGO has to do nothing with it, nor can claim any percentage in its profit or loss, neither can question community if it was damaged. The responsibility of running the project comes on the shoulders of the members of community organization. For example they have to fix the wear and tear in case of bridge, they have to protect it from calamities, if broken community has to repair it, If they could not manage all these, it will look like Orghoch bridge at Noghorgee in Ju T lasht. If it is Bjligar or power station, the community will stay responsible to maintain its distribution lines, repair of its machinery, arrange technician and pay any cost involve to keep it running. Otherwise in few years it will disappear like two such Bijligars in Ayun Darkhanandeh, one in Broze, in Mroi in Reshun, and dozens of others in upper Chitral. Same is the true about irrigation channels, tube wells, water supply scheme, and link roads and many other project lunged by NGO in the past, which disappeared in less then 4 to 6 years time, because of weak Wylat, community Organization, LSO or what ever you call it. I don’t think any major change has come in the strategy of donors or NGOs. Keeping in view more chances of negative changes in the behavior of people in terms of unity at village level, both the NGOs in general and the community elders in particular must think 10 times before going for any project. In case of government, the project remains the property of government, damaging government property is criminal action, government nominates employees in its projects, Govt forces to pay bills for electricity, “Abiana” is charged for irrigation channel, annual maintenance fund are allocated to keep running the project. But there is nothing like that in case of NGO’s projects. In many cases these project create rifts in community. The recent report of disputes in similar organization (GADO) in Garum Chashma published in online news few days back, can be taken as an example. There are numerous cases in district like that . In lower Chitral majority of NGO’s projects introduce in communities where no formal or informal organization exist.. A few people or just one or two men come forward for self interest and after gossip with staff of NGOs at their offices, take the money without involvement of community and start projects. It is noticed that these few heads become informal contractors of NGO for certain area, there are many case where, a man from one village has takes the responsibility of activities of NGO in another far away villages Specially in southren Chitral this practice has become very common that is totally against the Rule of Law for NGOs which says “A non-governmental organization (NGO, also often referred to as “civil society organization” or CSO) is a not-for-profit group, principally independent from government, which is organized on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good. Task-oriented and made up of people with a common interest, NGOs perform participation of civil society stakeholders at the community level. Another irrational act, noticed is that, NGOs ignoring the share of community stamp their logo on project, which gives the impression that the project belongs to NGO. The possible way for NGO to advertise itself is putting a sign board close to project clearly mentioning the cost of project, name of donor and NGO, the share of community. Otherwise huge logo of NGO on the top of any project ignores the stakeholders and their contribution in the activity. Note: The examples of the projects given in the note are on the basis of their accessible locations, mostly situated on road sides to see and judge, otherwise there are hundreds of similar examples in rest of Chitral.]]>

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