Dear Donor…

I joined civil society at a tender age and my career has been shaped in the NGO sector.

At the time that I got in, I had the luxury of being mentored by some of the best brains in the space. They taught me what civil society truly is and told me all my and told me all my failures were learnings to take.

Because of them I grew up looking at the work I did as a way of life and not a job. I did what I did to make the world better. I woke up and went on with passion just so someone would to put a smile on faces and the country would be better.

I joined at a time when legitimacy of the work that we did mattered more than the numbers and budget lines and gender disaggregated data. And don’t get me wrong all these matter.

And then the terrain began to change. I am dedicating this year to figuring out what exactly happened. How it started and where it plans to go. Suddenly, the person at the end mattered the least, suddenly adherence to outcomes and not to learning became the norm. Even where lessons blatantly stared one in the face, they couldn’t be used because they affected the flow of the proposal and the outputs.

Over the last five years or so, the mechanisation of the sector has taken precedence over the human being.

Where technocrats relied on data on make informed decisions, today emotion is more the order of the day.

Where corruption was shunned and practiced close to the pathways to hell, today we hear of spaces where over 80% of grants awarded were done on the basis of a pre given kickback. We hear of those denied the opportunity to do good because they couldn’t afford or wouldn’t pay up front.

We hear of officers who blatantly send through demand notes leaving accountants and executive directors stuck at what budget lines approved to touch in order to guarantee the next grant.

It is sad, that this is the note upon which we open 2019

It is sad that all that we despised and rallied against, is what is being perfected.

It is sad that the end beneficiary of all of this, is lost and huge chunks of money thrown down the drain.

And no, the NGOs are not immune.

May 2019 be a year of genuine investment and may the person be brought back to the centre.

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