A cry for help

NGO IN ACTION: ACHAP recently donated two special youth centres

NGOs largely neglected by local companies

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are regarded as very weak in Botswana, offering minimal support for Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in the country.

In a recently released 2020 CSO sustainability index by USAID, it was noted Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are heavily reliant on government and international donors.

“A few banks support CSOs, but local philanthropic foundations and individuals rarely donate to CSOs,” reads the report.

With Botswana now regarded as a middle class economy, donors are said to be transitioning away from the country. However, the index maintains windows of opportunities are still open.

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“For example, in 2020, ChildLine, Kagisano Society, BONELA, and Skillshare received funding from Save the Children Sweden to address the needs of migrant children and improve child-rights governance.”

Further, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, through ACHAP, PEPFAR and FHI 360, funded HIV-prevention activities and services to Gender Based Violence (GBV) victims. These services were provided though organisations such as the Botswana GBV Prevention and Support Center (BGBVC), Tebelopele, and Botswana Retired Nurses Society.

In the year under review, several government ministries continued to fund CSOs at reduced levels.

The National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) provided funding to Childline, SOS, Marang Childcare Network, Ark and Mark Trust, and Love Botswana for HIV/AIDS related projects.

“These organisations also received funding amounting to P6 million from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to provide essential services to orphans and vulnerable children. The disbursement of ministry funds was regularly delayed, constricting cash flows at recipient organisations.”

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Some of the delays were said to have occurred because funds were chanelled towards the fight against Covid-19. The index revealed CSOs were unable to access funding from the National Environmental Fund or Alcohol Levy, two main sources of support, because of the diversion of funds to battle the pandemic.

The report further indicated that even though few other domestic sources of funding are available to CSOs, some organisations find the process of applying for donor funding both cumbersome and frustrating.

“Many CSOs, especially in rural areas, had difficulty accessing funding because of logistical constraints and poor internet access. CSOs continued to rely mainly on the government for funding in 2020.”

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It was further noted such establishments lack strategies for mobilising resources, sufficient marketing and business capacities, and resources to hire dedicated staff.

“Many CSOs do not observe financial controls and cannot afford to obtain professional financial services. Donors and the government often require audited financial statements but do not cover their costs, which disqualifies CSOs that cannot afford these services on their own,” continues the report, which noted some organisations such as BONELA continued to build the financial capacity of its members by offering training on virtual platforms in 2020.

Most larger CSOs are said to have sound financial management systems and qualified financial management staff.

“Starting 2020, several CSOs with sound financial management practices, for the first time received funding directly from USAID rather than through an intermediary organisation.”

The USAID Index (CSOSI) annually reports on the strength and overall viability of civil society in the various countries it covers and highlights advances and setbacks of civil society and, over time, allows for comparisons across countries and sub-regions.

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