Kathmandu, July 30
At a time when the government has framed a policy to tighten the noose around non-governmental organisations, 30 Chinese NGOs have entered Nepal to penetrate the country’s social sector and the grassroots.
The Social Welfare Council Nepal and China NGO Network for International Exchanges, an umbrella body of Chinese NGOs, have signed a memorandum of understanding to enable Chinese NGOs to work in Nepal. The agreement was signed yesterday between SWCN Member Secretary Dilli Prasad Bhatt and CNIE General Secretary Zhu Rui in the presence of Minister of Women, Children and Senior Citizen Tham Maya Thapa and Chinese Deputy Minister of External Affairs Wang Yajun.
The agreement has paved the way for the first batch of 30 Chinese NGOs to work in Nepal for a period of three years. Their contract will be extended based on the consent of SWCN and CNIE. Representatives of these 30 Chinese NGOs were also present during yesterday’s signing ceremony. They have agreed to work in partnership with local NGOs to implement their programmes and projects.
The Chinese NGOs are eyeing areas such as livelihood, healthcare, education, skill-based training, community development and disaster management. This is the first time such a large number of Chinese NGOs has entered Nepal at one time. The Chinese assistance so far in Nepal has largely been limited to development of infrastructure projects. But the entry of these NGOs indicates China is keen on making its presence felt in Nepal’s social sector and the grassroots, which, till date, have remained domains of the West and countries such as Japan and India.
The MoU signed between SWCN and CNIE states that Chinese NGOs will be mobilised for ‘the benefit of needy Nepalis and to enhance ties between China and Nepal through people-to-people support programmes’.
“The Chinese NGOs will abide by the law of Nepal in its entirety while carrying out development cooperation in Nepal,” says the MoU, adding, “Chinese NGOs will submit programmes to the SWCN to carry out development activities in partnership with Nepali NGOs and SWCN in line with plans and policies of the government of Nepal.”
The MoU was signed at a time when the government has drafted the National Integrity Policy to limit activities of NGOs and INGOs, as some of them were found ‘trying to break communal harmony and proselytising Nepalis’. There were also concerns that high administrative cost of many NGOs and INGOs was preventing money from reaching the real beneficiaries. The policy clearly states that NGOs and INGOs cannot spend more than specified amount under administrative and consultant headings. They will also be barred from working against Nepal’s interests, culture and communal harmony and conducting activities to promote their religious, social or other agenda, adds the policy.
Around 48,000 NGOs are currently registered in Nepal, of which only 1,600 have been receiving funds from INGOs, as per SWCN. The SWCN has directed INGOs and NGOs to spend 60 per cent of the budget to generate tangible results, while the remaining can be used to cover administrative costs and organise training, meetings and seminars.
A version of this article appears in print on July 31, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.