Int’l NGO Delegates Start Pouring into Sanaa Unequivocal Presidential Support for NGOs [Archives:1998/23/Front Page]

June 8 1998

President Ali Abdullah Saleh expressed his strong support for the NGO movement as he re-iterated his patronage for the First General Conference of NGOs scheduled for 16-18 June 1998. The President is also expected to kick off the meeting that will bring together 400 Yemeni and international NGOs.
At another level, many international NGOs and government officials working with them have confirmed their arrival schedules. A six-person Canadian team will arrive on June 13. It is headed by Dr. Norman Cook, Director General of NGOs and Special Projects at the Canadian International Development Agency. A 4-person French team, headed by Mr. Michel Doucin, Minister Plenipotentiary in charge of NGOs at the Foreign Ministry in Paris, arrives on June 14th. A 6-person Italian team, also headed by a foreign ministry official, arrives on June 15th. Delegates from the US, UK, Denmark, etc. are also flying in around the same time.
The program of the First General Conference of NGOs (16-18 June) calls for 3 plenary sessions and ten afternoon workshops which are held simultaneously over two days.
On the first day, following the inauguration session, the local and international delegates will discuss the draft of the NGO law as approved by the conference sponsored by the Ministry of Social Affairs. “I am happy to say that a thorough job has been been done in most cases. Our job has thus been made easier. If there are any serious reservations or meaningful feedback, we will communicate the same to the Ministry,” explained Professor Al-Saqqaf.
Subcommittee will be formed to give the conference’s views on the draft law.
In the afternoon, there are five sessions in which international NGOs and officials of donor countries and organizations will present their policies and priorities. Local NGOs, in their effort to become better partners, will learn how to interact with international NGOs and donors. “This is critical because we should all be in the same wavelength in order to strengthen our cooperation,” said Ahmed Al-Mash-hoor, General Secretary of the Hadhramaut Welfare Chairty.
In the morning of the second day, there are two plenary sessions. The first one is chaired by Dr. Wahiba Fare’, Chairperson of Arwa University. “We will discuss the new role of NGOs, whether as advocates of new international values, or as agents of change in a world that is steadily becoming smaller,” said Dr. Wahiba, herself one of the leaders of the civil society movement of this country.
The next session is chaired by Professor Abubakar Al-Qirby, Chairman of the People’s  Welfare Society. “We are trying to consolidate the gains of the NGO movement in Yemen. Towards that end, we are going to discuss the possibility of establishing a network for the local NGOs,” he said.
A subcommittee will be formed to present a proposal for the formation of the Yemeni NGO Network Project.
The afternoon workshop on the second day deals with brain-storming sessions which are aimed at strengthening the capacity of NGOs. One workshop deals with proper accounting and book-keeping methods, a second deals with marketing and inventory skills, a third deals with applications for financing, and yet another deals with mobilizing volunteers for NGO activities.
On the morning plenary of the final (third) day – to be chaired by Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf –  the delegates will discuss the reports of the two subcommittees – the first dealing with the NGO draft law, and the second dealing with the proposal of the NGO Network Project. The delegates will also discuss a final communique to be issued by the conference.
Many participants and donors see this conference (16-18 June) as a watershed in the growth and influence of the NGO movement of Yemen.