Nangof scales down as donor funds shrink

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Windhoek

The Namibian Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (Nangof) Trust secretariat is scaling down its activities and programmes as a result of fewer donor funding.

Funding from the European Development Fund (EDF), one of its biggest donors, ended two weeks ago. While waiting for the next round of funding from the same donor, operations at the trust were scaled down and some employees’ contracts were not renewed, leaving the former workers jobless.

Nangof received N$5.5 million from EDF 10 which rolled over the past three years.

The chairperson of Nangof Trust, Sandie Tjaronda, however dismissed fears and reports that Nangof will close its doors as a result of dwindling donor funding.

“Nangof will not close its doors. It’s the heartbeat of civil society and it cannot close,” stressed Tjaronda.

In an interview with New Era, Tjaronda explained that the previous EDF term, which is referred to as EDF 10, had come to an end, hence the scaling down in operations. The criteria for the next term of funding which is EDF 11 are defined by the European Union, he added.

“It’s not automatic that we will be supported by EDF 11 but we are hoping that we will be sponsored,” said Tjaronda.

Meanwhile, the Nangof executive director, Ivin Lombardt, commented: “When funding ends programmes have to end, it’s like a project.”

The contracts of two people who provided services to the Nangof Trust secretariat were not renewed, Lombardt revealed. “Three people will continue in the secretariat full time and we have two more volunteers,” said Lombardt.

Programmes by other donors such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are continuing and therefore the Trust will not come to a complete standstill, he added.

Both Tjaronda and Lombardt admitted that Namibia’s classification as an upper-middle income country has badly affected the operations of civil societies and many community-based organisations in the country, as many donors continue to pull out. Equally, there are daily reports and cries from leaders of NGOs that are on the verge of closing.

“Many donors have withdrawn and those that are there are scaling down. This whole issue of funding in Namibia is quite serious,” said Lombardt.

“Funding for NGOs has completely dried up. When we go into the regions people are crying because they can’t do anything for the people due to lack of funds,” added Tjaronda.

The implications are that NGOs will not be in a position to effectively deliver services, especially at grass-roots level. “If this bleak situation continues we will face a serious gap in contributions that we are making to development (in this country),” stressed Tjaronda.

Namibia should however be able to handle its own funding, said Lombardt. Therefore, the government should look into the plight of NGOs by funding them, added Tjaronda.

“The state has an obligation and responsibility towards its people. The people being serviced by NGOs are citizens of this country. The sooner the government comes to their aid the better,” said Tjaronda.

However, NGOs do not necessarily want handouts from government, both men stressed. Instead, they want government to make use of their services and in turn pay for that.

“We can be of assistance to government especially in terms of implementation. They can use NGOs in order for them to survive on their own,” said Lombardt.

“NGOs are there to complement government. Where government stops our services start,” said Tjaronda.

Lombardt said that NGOs are very good at keeping democracy healthy and a redundant NGO umbrella body would literally cripple that.

Meanwhile, DTA president McHenry Venaani said yesterday that it is no longer acceptable that foreign donors are the only ones pumping money into local NGOs. He called on government to support the work of NGOs.

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