Donors liaison needed to better serve community [Archives:2007/1028/Local News]

February 26 2007

Jamal Al-Najjar
SANA'A, Feb. 25- The International non-governmental Organizations Forum and Donors workshop held in Sana'a last Wednesday, the participants confirmed that cooperation between civil society organizations and donors is necessary to enhance the democratic initiative in Yemen and achieve the country's development goals including poverty reduction.

The workshop was attended by International Non-Governmental Organizations Forum members and donor representatives as well as the vice minister of planning and international cooperation, Yahya Al-Mutwakkil. The forum aimed at exploring ways to help NGOs and donors work together and help local civil society organizations take up their role in the development of the country and to become more involved in implementing government policy.

''We welcome this opportunity,” said Djoeke Adimi of the Netherlands Embassy. “It comes at a time when there's a lot of optimism after the November GCC meeting in London that Yemen can make real progress in tackling poverty and disadvantage.”

The progress is part of the optimism for NGOs currently in Yemen.

“Internation NGOs have been helping the development of Yemen since 1963 when Save the Children Sweden established its office in Yemen,” said Naji Khaleel, Chair of the International Non-Governmental Organizations Forum. ''From education projects in Hadramout to drinking water systems in Mahweet we have been helping poor and marginalized communities to lift themselves out of poverty with support from donors across the world.”

Al-Mutwakkil said the government welcomes any steps that contribute to better collaboration between NGOs and donors. He also pointed out that NGOs coverage in the rural areas is weak although people there are in need of help in different fields.

On behalf of the donor community, Johan Blankenberg, Netherland's Ambassador to Yemen, said that NGOs in Yemen are still at an early stage of their growth. But coordination between groups, exchanging expertise and strategic partnership will help them contribute to development.

“Much experience is available in offering charitable services to communities. But playing a role in policy development, advocacy and monitoring require new skills and different ways of organisation,” said Blankenberg. “Civil society in Yemen is, to a large extent, still fragmented, often based on the huge efforts of individuals but without the proper mechanisms in place to mutually reinforce each other.”

Blankenberg affirmed that involvement of civil society organisations in government policy is an indication that there is credibility along the road to democracy that Yemen has embarked on.

“As donors we think that increased participation of civil society in decision making, implementation, monitoring and advocacy, is crucial for the credibility of democratic and economic development of the country as a whole,” he maintained.

Concerning the relationship between donors and NGOs and also government he said, “Donors should better coordinate and harmonise their support to civil society. Through our support programs for the various government sectors, we should help them to better cooperate with civil society and to involve the people of Yemen in all stages of policy preparation, implementation, and monitoring. At the same time we feel a natural bond between donors and representatives of international NGOs in Yemen. They share our goals and aims for development.”

There are more than 40 International NGOs working in Yemen. They are working to develop the country and help improve Yemeni society's situation in education, economy and they discuss society problems related to human rights and women issues. Last year, over $16.6 million was spent on projects and programs to the benefit of 4 million people in different areas of Yemen.