There remains little doubt that the dynamic role played by the leading non-government organizations (NGOs) in the development sectors of Bangladesh has lifted our status in diverse areas. These include primary and adult education, health, social awareness, poverty alleviation, women empowerment and disaster management.
Both local and international NGOs have played a commendable role; some of local origin have even branched out overseas in crisis-ridden countries.
That said, it is to be noted that alongside the accountable, transparent and dedicated NGOs, there have been allegations of non-accountability and financial irregularities against some of them in the way they worked. Instances of marginalized people falling victim to massive fraud and deceit by dubious NGOs are not few either.
Surprisingly, while some NGOs gave rise to misgivings and governments took a generalized approach to identifying them they tended to be somewhat sweeping in the absence of what we regard as properly conducted survey of the NGOs. So we would emphasise the need for monitoring NGO transparency backed by scientifically arrived at findings rather than applying any random approach.
A study carried out by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) along with 39 NGOs shows that 39% of the NGOs have a fair record in accountability with beneficiaries while 40% are fair in transparency in financial management as shown to the donors and NGO affairs bureau. The study also reveals that the executive committees or governing bodies of these NGOs lack commitment, capacity and understanding of policies. There should be more such studies.
While welcoming the concerns for ensuring transparency and accountability in NGO sector, and having the right set of policies we would like to point out that in the name of regulating their spontaneous growth should not even be unwittingly stifled.