Donors pull out, NGO coffers dry up

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The country is in panic mode after indications most of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are facing viability problems and that some of them may close. Zimbabwe is one of the countries which rely heavily on donor funding.

The government has been urged to find alternatives in the event some of the traditional NGOs opt out. The call was made during a recent media training session for journalists by a local organisation.

Several directors with NGOs indicated they were in a serious crisis as their traditional donors were pulling out and that could force them to wrap up their operations.

“It is true that all is not well in the NGOs. Most of them are failing even to pay their staff, funds are not forthcoming and this have stalled some projects,” said one director.

Another director said their long-time donors were now skeptical about their projects and they would need a lot of convincing before they rolled out any more financial support.

“The donors have increasingly become fatigued by our endless problems and it’s becoming difficult for them to continue funding us,” said the director.

Employees in some NGOs said their salaries had been severely reduced and at some point it had been difficult to get paid.

“All is not well. Gone are the days when it was said being in the NGO sector was paying. We are failing to get enough funding and it is feared most of the current projects would be the last,” said Rudairo Masawi who works for a local NGO.

Some of the countries which used to pour out a lot of money in NGO institutions have simply stopped or cut their assistance.

“Many countries have not fully recovered from global recession and the euro- zone crisis have just hit them again and this is bad news to developing nations as they are the ones who rely heavily on donor assistance.

They have many in their plate. Charity begins at home.

“United States — one of the countries which contribute a lot in aid — is facing domestic problems with protesters occupying Wall Street.

It is a sign that all is not well for them and they cannot be seen pouring money into other nation’s coffers while they have their own problems,” said economist Floyd Kadete.

Some of the beneficiaries of NGO projects urged the government to chip in because their survival was on the line.

Abigail Moyo, from Muzarabani, said some of the NGOs which were supplying food to the drought-prone area have stopped and others have reduced their activities in the area.

“People are facing starvation and the only organisations which were helping us have indicated the going is becoming tough for them and their food supply is now erratic,” said Moyo.

Another villager in Muzarabani, who is on anti-retroviral treatment, said he feared for his health in the absence of the organisation which was helping him access the treatment.

“I do not know what will become of me if one day I would be told that the organisation which has been helping me for more than eight years is scaling down or stopping their projects in the area,” said the villager.

Recently, the Global Fund announced it was scaling down its operations and cancelling Round 11, citing donor fatigue.

This has put NGOs who rely heavily on the funds on the tight spot and confusion is reigning supreme in the organisations.

Economics lecturer Albert Zigomo said humanitarian issues were being overtaken by environmental and climate issues and most donors were now preferring to sponsor issues on climate.

“Climate change and global warming are posing a threat and many funders are now pouring their money in this area and they know the effects can be devastating if the issues are not addressed properly on time,” said Zigomo.

The government has been urged to come out with strategies to alleviate poverty among its people because they cannot continue to rely heavily on donor funds.

“It is now common knowledge all is not well in the non-governmental sector and the government should use its resources to help its people. And if they do not chip in quickly, we are going to witness a humanitarian crisis,” said Zigomo.

Zimbabwe has seen the sprouting of different organisations in recent years triggered by social and economical crisis that gripped the country since 2000.

According to Global Humanitarian Assistance report, Zimbabwe is a highly insecure country on food due to its susceptibility to droughts.

The most severe droughts occurred in 2001 and 2007 affecting six million and 2,1 million people respectively.

Food production has also been seriously affected by political turmoil over the last decade. Food has been the sector that accounts for the vast majority of humanitarian funding.

Every year over 50% of Zimbabwe’s humanitarian aid has been allocated to this sector with the highest proportion in 2006 (74,8%), 2007 (76,4%) and 2008 (70,1%).

Since 2005 there has been a fairly equal distribution of humanitarian aid to other sectors such as agriculture, health, water and sanitation.

In 2006 and 2009 agriculture was the second largest sector, 11,2% and 15% respectively. During this period there was a significant decline in food production in Zimbabwe due to low agricultural inputs and productivity.

In 2009 the European Commission was the largest donor to the agricultural sector.