Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Waste, Graft and Corruption

I have read various accusations and counter-accusations regarding the efforts of Band Aid to raise money to alleviate the Ethiopian drought, and how that money was diverted (or not) to buy arms.

I read that NGOs and other organisations are going around the Third World sinking boreholes in villages to give them easy access to clean water, but make little or no provision for maintaining the boreholes or the pumps needed to extract the water, rendering their work a total waste of time and money - donation money.

And it makes me mad to see the money of good people, given in the hope that they are making a real difference to less fortunate than themselves, tipped down a bottomless pit - or pocket. I applaud the donors, but I curse those people who misuse the money, either through lack of research or pure greed. It's all the same to me.

But we, the charitable organisations should be a little more careful with this money. It is not ours to waste, any more than the taxes collected by governments become the money of those governments to squander on nice houses, big cars and other "necessary" expenses to keep them in a high lifestyle at the expense of the people who employ them, the population of the country they serve.

It is not just the big charities who are guilty. I was asked to work for an NGO registered in Kenya and I accepted, until I found out that the main activity of this NGO was to convince British charities to provide them with computers, supposedly for schools. Needless to say, the computers never saw the inside of a school, but were instead sold on the open market and the money pocketed by the head of the NGO.

I quickly disassociated myself from the NGO in question.

We, that is KCIS, have been asked on occasion to check out supposed local organisations making claims from charitable foundations. Our enquiries have usually found that the claimants are making false statements in order to obtain funds.

We know of a charity in the UK, which is totally above-board, but whose local officials are fiddling the books and pocketing large amounts of money sent to them to build and refurbish schools. Instead, the officials have very nice houses.

What can be done about this intolerable situation? I don't have an answer.

Our organisation doesn't receive much money, just a few pounds here and a few dollars there. We have a director who is both a trustee of the charity in the UK and a director of the NGO in Kenya. The staff in Kenya are dedicated. We do not have a problem with money being siphoned off.

We see wastage at all levels and dream of what we could achieve with a fraction of the money, compounds full of 4x4 vehicles that are never used, charity workers in Nairobi driving around in high-end cars to and from the offices ... anyone in any capital of any developing country will see it.

We  can only dream of what we could achieve with a fraction of this wasted money.

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