Foreign non-government organisations commit Rs 1.2 billion to Covid responseAs many as 30 foreign NGOs have got approval to divert existing funds amounting to Rs 600 million.
International non-governmental organisations have committed around Rs1.2 billion to fight the Covid-19 pandemic so far, well short of Rs2 billion committed by them, the Social Welfare Council has said.
During the handover of jointly procured medical goods on May 6, the Association of International NGOs of Nepal vowed to contribute at least Rs2 billion towards Covid-19 preparedness and response.
The number of coronavirus cases in Nepal crossed 1,400 on Saturday and six persons have already died from Covid-19, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
According to the Social Welfare Council, as many as 30 foreign NGOs have got approval to divert existing funds amounting to Rs600 million while four foreign NGOs are awaiting approval for the amount of Rs220 million. Besides, Nepal has got a fresh aid commitment of around Rs400 million from international NGOs, according to the council.
After the council early last month introduced a policy framework for domestic and international NGOs to divert existing funds or inject new funds, foreign NGOs committed to spend over Rs1 billion to aid the fight against Covid-19.
In the policy framework introduced by the council on April 2, fresh international fund collection has been encouraged and diversion of 20 percent of the existing funds towards Covid-19 preparedness and response activities has been allowed.
“Although the Association of International INGOs committed Rs2 billion, it will be difficult for them to meet that target based on their approach to the council at the moment,” said Durga Prasad Bhattarai, information officer at the council.
“We have been encouraging foreign NGOs which come up with new projects to include the component of Covid-19 relief and recovery.”
He said that the council has been telling them to maintain a share of at least 20 percent for the fight against Covid-19.
Officials of the international NGOs also say that they face a challenge to raise Rs2 billion in the short term for relief and recovery. “But, for the longer term recovery and resilience from the pandemic, more funds can be generated in the future,” said Achyut Luitel, president of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal, a grouping of foreign NGOs in Nepal. He said that various agricultural and entrepreneurship development schemes could be introduced for recovery from the pandemic.
According to Luitel, even big donors have also been rechannelising their funds to recovery measures, which would be reflected in the future programmes to be proposed by international NGOs. But international NGOs are concerned that the government failing to give a final decision on whether to allow foreign NGOs to distribute cash as relief has delayed their response to the coronavirus crisis.
For example, the council has not approved Plan International Nepal’s proposal of distributing cash to the needy people from around Rs100 million it had proposed weeks ago.
The council said that it failed to approve the Plan’s proposal after the
the Prime Minister’ Office suggested that the cash distribution component be removed from the programme.
But, the entire NGO community is united in favour of cash distribution which they say is more transparent than distribution of relief in kind.
The Association of International NGOs in Nepal and the NGO Federation of Nepal, in a joint letter to Sishir Kumar Dhungana, secretary at the Ministry of Finance, on April 27 requested the government to include the cash transfer option in the government relief standards for unorganised sector workers and people in desperate need of help.
“Several international NGOs prefer cash distribution as it is an easier way of providing relief during the lockdown,” said Luitel. “It can also help the local economy.”