New Book to Guide Civil Society

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK A handbook to guide civil society organisations in registering their entities was launched yesterday. It is believed that some non-governmental organisations are caught in a vicious circle of not being able to meet donor requirements for ensuring transparency, accountability, and effective project management structures and therefore not meeting the grade for funding. They can neither get funding nor develop as sustainable organisations. The !Nara Training Centre, with assistance from the German Development Service (DED) developed a handbook entitled Registration of Civil Society Organisations in Namibia, to support NGOs in overcoming structural constraints such as organisational management, bookkeeping, reporting and monitoring requirements. The handbook says that to be effective and efficient, an organisation must have a good structure and must relate to its members and its stakeholders in an accountable and transparent manner. “Good governance is at the base of effectiveness among civil society organisations,” it says. At the launch of the publication yesterday, DED’s Programme Coordinator, Marianne Woeller said it has not been easy for organisations to find out why it is important to become registered, what they need to register and also who can help them to register. Many groups, which call themselves NGOs or faith-based organisations, noted Woeller, were not registered and have reported difficulties in getting the respective documents to enable them become registered. While this is the case, Woeller said, it was difficult for donor organisations to support projects financially if they are not registered. “One does not know if they are really non-profit social working groups or initiatives. They often do not have clear accounting and reporting procedures nor financial control,” she added. Developing a constitution, which is one of the requirements for registration, said she, was very helpful as it helped organisations to specify their objectives, activities, membership, and board and management structures. These issues and many more needed to be clarified before an organisation can start to work. “Later the group might collapse because members of the organization have not agreed about their management structures and procedures before hand. Having a written constitution helps to avoid these problems,” Woeller added. The handbook contains information to help organisations get registered. These include the types of civil society organisations possible in Namibia, why organisations should register, setting up voluntary organisations, registering a welfare organisation, setting up a trust or company, setting up under other registration or incorporation, taxes for work done, registration with local authority and keeping registrations up to date, among many other aspects. The handbook also outlines the code of ethics of the civil society’s umbrella body, the Namibia Non Governmental Organisation Forum (NAN-GOF).