Pauline McKay, national director Christian World Service, responds to proposed changes
In an April 19th letter the Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully writes that the government has decided NZ Overseas Development Agency (NZODA) funds should be focused on economic development in the Pacific region and that current partnerships with NGOs are out of step with these priorities.
To meet these priorities the Minister asks officials to redesign arrangements for funding NZ development NGOs. He envisages a fund, administered by officials, that prioritises support for the Pacific and South East Asia with the ability to support some projects else in the developing world.
He says he has asked officials to look at arrangements for funding responses to humanitarian emergencies. He wants funds to be more readily available for NGOs to meet priority needs quickly and efficiently. He believes tender processes have wasted time and set back relief efforts.
Finally he says the looks forward to sharing the new framework and plan to transition from the old system with the NGO sector.
His letter raises more questions than provides answers. Some of you may have heard me (and others) on Radio NZ’s Morning Report last month voicing this opinion and lamenting the fact that Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) staff no longer attend the traditional MFAT/NGO meetings.
At these meetings we could have put questions to the officials regarding these new arrangements. We only heard that MFAT staff would not be attending the meeting shortly before it took place and that the Minister was going to send a letter later.
On Morning Report the Minister made comments about the way NZ International Aid and Development Agency’s funding schemes are administered. The Minister said they are administered by a committee of NGOs and there was a perception that those not on the committee miss out on funding and there are some alleged issues of fairness.
The funds are administered by a committee made up of elected representatives from NGOs on a rotational basis and staff from NZAID. It is a peer review process and projects are judged on whether they fit the KOHA criteria and meet NZ Overseas Development Agency guidelines. A recent review by an independent consultant found that this process was robust and fair, as have previous reviews.
CWS has always found the process to be engaging and sometimes challenging but the scheme has provided the NGO sector with cohesion, strong skills through training programmes, and ensured high standards of programme delivery.
CWS is monitoring the situation carefully. We are very concerned at the fact that there is very little time until the end of the financial year on 30 June for us to learn fully about the transition plans as mentioned in the letter.
This situation and its associated uncertainties have major ramifications for CWS and its programme partners. We will keep you posted on all developments and particularly when we learn precisely what will replace the funding schemes.
Touchstone May 2010 – posted with permission