A high-level commission has recommended that the federal government oversee the activities of INGOs and all three tiers of government—federal, provincial and local—register and monitor NGOs operating in Nepal. The Social Welfare Council (SWC) submitted its report to the prime minister a few weeks ago and the body has also recommended that the federal government monitor INGOs. This is a welcome step and the report should be implemented without delays.
The federal government must also look into how the resources meant for Nepal from various bilateral and multilateral agencies are being ‘hijacked’ by big INGOs through bidding processes.
The government should allow INGOs to complement its programs and activities wherever possible. INGOs have played important role in advancing some of the education, health and nutrition-related goals in the past years. We should welcome such partnerships under the new structure. However, we have also seen Christian missionaries under the name of INGOs proselytizing in different parts of the country. Some of those organizations even explicitly ask for ‘only Christians’ to apply for their job openings. They go to poor communities and promise of better health and educational opportunities. The government must be alert to such illegal activities being run in the name of development. Such practice must be banned and those organizations must be expelled from the country.
The federal government must also look into how the resources meant for Nepal from various bilateral and multilateral agencies are being ‘hijacked’ by big INGOs through bidding processes. Some of the bilateral agencies allow only certain types of INGOs to bid for big projects, leaving out Nepali organizations from such opportunities. Those INGOs then spend hefty sum to hire ‘international experts’ and consultants, without actually doing much on the ground. The government should hold serious dialogue with countries that spend a lot of money through their aid agencies. One international study found that almost 70% of the money from the developing countries goes back to the country of origin. Same could be true in Nepal as well.
We saw massive infusion of money after the 2015 earthquake. We reported multiple cases of irregularities by both NGOs and INGOs. Money meant for earthquake survivors were grossly misused. Some of the INGOs even ran parallel structures in earthquake-hit districts in the name of recovery and relief efforts. The Oli government should be serious about looking into ways to best use the resources that come to Nepal. The donor countries should also work closely with the government to ensure that their taxpayers’ money is well spent. Through proper oversight and monitoring of INGOs operating in Nepal, we can at least hope to improve their efficacy.