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Remarks by Ambassador Alexander BAUM, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Botswana and SADC at the award of Medium Sized Grants for the Empowernment of NSAs in Botswana.(24/01/2017)
I am pleased to be part of this event this morning where we have come to witness the award of grants to deserving Non-State Actors who responded to the Calls for proposals under the 10th EDF programme on Empowerment of NSAs in Botswana.
Director of ceremonies,
If I can just remind you of the 10th EDF programme on Empowerment of NSAs in Botswana; the purpose of the programme was to enhance the role of NSAs in the development process of Botswana and to enable them to contribute more effectively to the achievement of the national development goals.
I am happy to note that through the NGO empowerment component we have managed to kick-start implementation of the NGO Policy through provision of key personnel for the NGO Council and support with other operational costs. We still hold a lot hope that the NGO Council will eventually make deliberate efforts to facilitate dialogue between government and civil society. The NGO Empowerment component also provided grant funding to civil society-led projects in pre-selected priority areas through the large and the small grant schemes.
Implementation of the small grants scheme has been completed and we believe the lessons we have drawn from it so far will assist government to revise the policy guidelines for financial support to NGOs. A grants scheme for medium sized grant was introduced so that our input towards strengthening the policy guidelines will be evidence based. We believe that the guidelines should ensure accountability on the part of the grantees for resources and results; that availability of funding should be predictable and that procedures for award of grants should be fair and transparent.
Implementation of the large grants where some 26 grants worth 20 million Pula were issued is under close monitoring of the Programme Implementation Unit as it enters the closure phase; some grant contracts are coming to the end while others have had their term extended.
Today we are meeting here to witness the award of a further 9 grant contracts with a value of more than 4 million Pula. The purpose of the Call for Proposals was to foster the role of CSOs to become catalysts for inclusive economic development especially in regions characterized by high levels of poverty, including hard-to-reach peri-urban/urban areas. The grants to be implemented will cover the areas of women empowerment; Environment; Orphans and Vulnerable Children; Arts and Culture. The implementation period of these grants is planned to last exactly 12 months from the beginning to the end of 2017. There is no room, therefore, for delayed start, neither are there any prospects for extending the duration of implementation as is often the case.
Hon. Minister, Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We should recall that, over the last 7 years, there have been at least four calls for proposals under the 9th EDF and three under the 10th EDF aimed at supporting NGOs. In addition there have been two calls for proposals under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. All these have provided NGOs with opportunities to secure funding for the work that they do for their communities. Despite the fact that EU funding procedures can be complicated all the NGOs selected to receive a grant this morning have previously applied for and won an EU grant. On the basis of this experience I believe that any organisation can, with sufficient determination, use its experience at writing grant applications to have a better understanding of the guidelines for calls for proposals in order that they are able to write convincing proposals.
Hon. Minister, Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The event that has brought us here this morning is embedded in our bilateral cooperation; there are many other programmes where implementation is currently on-going and we are hopefully for more in the future. While we are delighted to see that there is progress on the programme we need to reflect on the lessons learnt with a view to drawing knowledge and inspiration to help us implement the rest of cooperation activities. We are entering a new phase of our cooperation; the 11th round of the European Development Fund. Our programming for cooperation activities to be done under the 11th EDF is quite advanced. In consultation with the government of Botswana we will, by the end of this year, have completed our programming of what is it that we are going to be doing together. Support to civil society has been part of our programmes for Botswana in the past and it is likely to continue to be for the foreseeable future.
There are many challenges in the civil society sector that need to be addressed in order to enable CSOs to perform their role effectively in the development of Botswana. Without access to sustainable financial and human resources the participation of CSOs cannot be assured, let alone sustained over a long period of time. There are organizational capacity and governance issues that keep cropping up within the sector. At the same time, it is important to ensure that the space for CSOs to operate is not getting restricted so that they can continue to raise their voice on matters of national interest, thereby contributing to development in Botswana. On the other hand there is need for more accountability to the community for results produced by the organisations. Without any clear prospects for generation of own resources it is inevitable that CSOs in Botswana will continue to need external support.
Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude my remarks by encouraging the grant winners to be diligent in the management of their projects and their resources. Development funding, irrespective of the source, is disbursed in order that it may be used to generate specified results for the benefit of a specified target group. EU funding is no different. Project funding has to be used for the purpose for which it was disbursed. It comes as a concern then when it appears that some grantees fail to live up to this expectation and thereby putting the project resources, it's the objectives and the expected benefits at risk.
Finally I wish to thank the government of Botswana for its excellent spirit of cooperation. Implementation of the programme that is giving out grants this morning is made possible by government contributing its personnel and other resources. This arrangement makes it easier for us to talk to one another thereby contributing to strengthening our cooperation.
To the PIU, please take note that, as we approach the end of implementation of the NGO component of the 10th EDF NSA programme, your management responsibility is not getting any lighter. On the contrary you will have to work extra hard to ensure smooth implementation of grants, in light of some the experiences already on record, as well as the closure of those grants that are due.
I Thank You!!!…… KE A LEBOGA!!!...........PULA!!!!