At the first ever meeting to assess the work of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), on Sunday at the presidential palace, President Ashraf Ghani said if NGOs do not report to government about their activities in future, their offices will be closed.
The meeting was held to assess the role of NGOs in Afghanistan’s economic growth and poverty reduction efforts.
Addressing representatives from NGOs, Ghani said in the last 17 years these organizations have implemented projects, but they failed to work effectively or produce good results.
Ghani went on to say NGOs have not played an effective role in decreasing unemployment and poverty and that they should have a unified budget and report to government about their expenditures.
“The approach of NGOs was project based. Were the 5,198 implemented projects in one year managed effectively? Show me one area in the world that NGOs’ work has eradicated poverty or hascaused fundamental progress,” said Ghani.
The president said Afghanistan’s economic growth projection for next year is eight percent and government’s annual revenue should reach $8 billion USD.
“Despite generous support from the international community, we are at the lowest grade in terms of reaching the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals specified by the United Nations,” said Ghani.
Speaking at the same event, the minister of economy said in 2017 NGOs spent $850 million USD on different projects in different parts of the country without considering development balances. He said their work was not very effective.
“The projects were generated without close cooperation with government departments and it is not a surprise that even the sectors were not prioritized,” the minister of economy Mustafa Mastoor said.
The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Rehabilitation (ACBAR) director Fiona Gall highlighted the challenges faced by NGOs and said so far 1,854 NGO staff have been attacked in different parts of the country and 152 of them have been killed.
Gall said insecurity is a big problem for them which limits their activities.
“We cannot directly monitor our projects due to the lack of security and serous attention should be paid to NGOs in this regard,” said Gall.
Ghani suggested that in order to make sure NGOs play a positive role in growing the economy and helping Afghans overcome challenges, a number of steps should be taken.
Reporting to government regarding their activities, implementing projects based on people’s needs, increasing work quality, preparing a development agenda and specifying NGO’s role in it were recommendations made by Ghani.