Nepal | June 21, 2019

Change of guard rare in NGOs

Lekhanath Pandey

Kathmandu, April 19

People holding top posts normally can’t remain in their positions indefinitely.They have to pass on the mantle to their successors after a certain tenure.

In Nepal, however, there is a sector the non-governmental organisations where the change of guard is rare.

Laxmi Narayan Upreti, under secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said almost all NGOs are being led by the same persons that founded them. Interestingly, even when there is a change of leadership, the new heads are either the founder’s close relatives or acquaintances, he added.

This is not to say that the NGOs are entirely to be blamed.

The only law that regulates the sector is Association Registration Act 1977 and the NGOs are taking advantage of the legal vacuum. The act is silent on the issue and allows the statute of the concerned NGO to fix the tenure of the of its head.

MoWCSW Spokesperson Narayan Prasad Kafle said the trend could be checked by introducing a law. “We can check this trend if the government brings a law fixing a definite tenure for NGO chiefs,” added Kafle.

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An NGO chief, however, claimed that social organisations cannot function if the tenure of leadership is fixed. He stated that many charity organisations such as the Carter Centre, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations are run by the same persons for decades.

When the act was introduced, there were a few NGOs and were allowed to work only in certain specified areas. After the restoration of democracy in 1990 social organisations mushroomed.

Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Ram Krishna Subedi said the Association Registration Act 1977 was among a few acts introduced during the Panchayat regime and is still in effect.

“The act fails to adequately address all issues of the NGO sector,” he told this daily. “We need an updated and comprehensive law to regulate the sector.”

As per the act, NGOs should be registered at the District Administration Office and notification to this effect should be sent to the Social Welfare Council. The government, however, has no exact data on NGOs registered across the country.

It is estimated that some 125,000 to 150,000 NGOs are functioning across the country. Of them, 46,000 to 47,000 are registered in the District Administration Office, Kathmandu alone.

A version of this article appears in print on April 20, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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