The associations and NGOs that are members of the Permanent Secretariat of Non-Governmental Organizations (SPONG), a platform that is in turn a member of the IFP, came together in Ouagadougou in April 2017 for the collective’s 42nd Ordinary General Meeting. It provided an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the 2016 strategic plan and lay the groundwork for the success of future actions.
2016 was a difficult year for NGOs and development associations working in Burkina Faso. This observation was made by the Chair of the Board of Directors of SPONG at the opening of the organisation’s 42nd Ordinary General Meeting. According to Juliette T. Compaoré, changes at an international level, combined with a security environment marked by repeated attacks, have put a strain on mechanisms to mobilise resources. “The country has been through a difficult time characterised by a general economic slowdown that has its roots in the past. The decrease in the flow of financing has also affected NGOs, and most of them have had to deal with reduced support” she explained.
Along with this decrease in resources, development actors have also had to face competition for restricted funding through calls for project proposals and cope with the non-adaptation of the tax system and delays in reimbursing VAT. SPONG’s Chair also regretted the lack of equity and public funding to support the co-financing requested of NGOs by sponsors. These are all difficulties that have forced some NGOs and development associations to dismiss staff in order to keep their heads above water.
Partners recognise what has been achieved, however, despite the difficult situation, some good results have been achieved. This fact was welcomed by the ceremony’s patron, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Anna Vincent expressed her pleasure in the quality of her organisation’s relationship with SPONG and praised the group’s achievements. She also called for closer collaboration between the two actors, particularly in the area of citizen control, saying: “We believe NGOs can help us to ensure that everything we initiate in partnership with the government takes place under better conditions and in a transparent manner in order to achieve the objectives.”
For the current year, Juliette T. Compaoré suggested that member organisations should be more involved in tackling their own challenges. In particular, she urged them to play a consensual role in drawing up the draft decree on the transition from association to national NGO. She also highlighted the need to establish a mutual insurance scheme for NGO workers since not all of them enjoy the benefit of social welfare.
SPONG’s 42nd Ordinary General Meeting approved the activity report presented by the functional task team for 2016. It was also an opportunity to welcome new members, with ten organisations being approved for membership. These new arrivals will allow SPONG to strengthen its leadership and improve its performance. Alongside the main meeting, an exhibition of NGO best practices and experiences provided a platform to share and promote NGO initiatives in the development process.
Roukiattou Ouédraogo and Nouroudine L. Lougué