Accountability of non-governmental organizations in Tanzania: a case study of Dar es Salaam

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Unversity of Dar es Salaam
The aim of this study was to investigate how the accountability techniques and processes used in Tanzanian Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) differ from the ideal, to explore how NGOs in Tanzania are accountable, and to identify the impact (if any) the 2002 NGO Act had in Tanzania. In the last 30 years, there has been a large increase in the number of registered NGOs in Tanzania. This “mushrooming” of NGOs is related to the 1990’s shift in donor funding. The increase in NGOs particularly those referred to as “brief case” NGOs has made it much more difficult for legitimate NGOs to get funding and to focus on their constituencies. Many NGOs are stuck writing long reports and budget statements to prove that they exist. Both donors and the legitimate NGOs take issue with illegitimate NGOs and faulty practices. Donors want proof that the funds that they distribute are used properly, and legitimate NGOs struggle to satisfy increasing donor demands. All NGOs want to be accountable, but to whom? Unlike the private and public sector, the NGO sector is largely unregulated. When donor funding in Tanzania and many other African countries shifted in the 1990’s away from the government and towards NGOs, it seemed like the creation of a strong civil society would solve all of the accounting problems that had existed within the government. If donor funding could be funneled through community organizations, then corruption and mismanagement could end. However, the same problems that government accountability faced are also seen in the NGOs. These problems include mismanagement, greed, unmet goals and backdoor deals. “Accountability” has become a buzz word in donor/ NGO relations. Tax payers in donor countries want to see tangible results, but the type of monitoring and evaluation procedures insisted on by donors tend to distort accountability. Donors have “a tendency to focus on ‘accountancy’ rather than ‘accountability’; audit rather than learning (Edwards, 1995:13).” This emphasis on accountability demands that NGOs measure their progress by donor standards. Accountability to NGO constituency is ignored. Donors appear to have created a dependency with the types of accountability they want to see in place, and NGOs find it difficult to meet the requirements. If donor agencies want to give NGOs more autonomy, they need to measure accountability based how well they learn from experience and judge the costs and benefits of putting resources to different purposes (EDWARDS, 1995: 12).” Based on fieldwork done in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this paper presents results of current measures of NGO’s accountability, their focus, and the perceptions surrounding them. During fieldwork conducted between March and June of 2007, a total of 14 organizations involved in the NGO sector were surveyed. A number of methods of data collection were used, including questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and analysis of program materials. Four of the organizations were NGOs that work with youth issues, five were donor agencies, one was a government agency involved with non-governmental organization regulation, and four were community organizations familiar with accountability legislation. The research questions included in this study: Who were the NGOs accountable to and why? What was the relationship between donors, NGOs, government, and the constituency and how were they accountable? What monitoring and evaluation methods were being used in Tanzania? What were the current issues of accountability? Did NGOs need to be accountable to the government and how could this help or hinder progress? What was the future of NGOs in Tanzania and how did new NGOs face when using their accountability measurement? Are increasing accountability standards limiting the NGO sector? How did the NGOs, donors, and government in Tanzania view NGO accountability? Did the NGO Act of 2002 have any effect on the NGO operations? After analyzing the study findings, it was found that organizations in the NGO sector have different definitions of accountability depending on their role in the development process. NGOs affirmed that they were most accountable to their role in the development process. NGOs affirmed that they were most accountable to their constituencies. Donor, government, and NGOs had an adversarial relationship in many ways. Monitoring and evaluation procedures were not uniformed. And the NGO Act of 2002 has not had a significant impact on accountability in Tanzania and may be limiting coordination between the organizations of the NGO sector.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF HD2921.3.G559)
Non-governmental Organizations, Responsibility, Accountability, Tanzania, Dar es Salaam
Glynn, J. A. (2008) Accountability of non-governmental organizations in Tanzania: a case study of Dar es Salaam, Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam