Nguyen Phuong Linh, director of the Research Centre for Management and Sustainable Development (MSD), talks about the importance of transparency and accountability in the sustainable development of NGOs.
Awards for best practices in transparency, accountability and resource mobilisation were given recently to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Please tell us about the awards?
The Research Centre for Management and Sustainable Development was established with the mission of building a strong and effective civil society that responds to the needs and protects the rights of vulnerable communities in Viet Nam. One of our strategic focuses is empowering civil society organisations (CSOs) toward development effectiveness, especially on transparency, accountability, resource mobilisation and advocacy. Viet Nam NGO Awards 2014 for best practices in transparency, accountability and resource mobilisation is one of those incentives and efforts of CSO-TAI (CSO initiatives in promoting transparency and accountability) - our main programme - in enabling MSD to complete its mission.
Viet Nam NGO Awards, which was held for the first time in the country, was aimed at improving the capacity and honour of CSOs and generating good practices on transparency, accountability and resource mobilisation. It was organised by MSD in collaboration with the Resource Alliance and funded by Rockefeller Foundation and Irish Aid.
Viet Nam NGO Awards 2014 refers to a competition honouring the best local NGO in Viet Nam. However, it is not just a competition because it also focuses on capacity building, and inspires CSOs to demonstrate and promote their transparency and accountability practices throughout eight months of competition. We believe that by empowering and recognising an accountable and effective non-profit sector, the NGO Wards foster long-term sustainability and effectiveness, which can contribute significantly to the promotion, recognition and acceptance of NGOs in Viet Nam. It will also enable Vietnamese NGOs to strengthen their efforts in overcoming the continuing social, environmental and economic challenges presented by Viet Nam's ongoing transition and development.
What is your assessment of Vietnamese NGOs ? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What else do you want to share after the awards process?
It is for the first time that the Viet Nam NGO Awards were held here and successfully. They were also welcomed by local NGOs. As mentioned, the programme included capacity building and coaching activities besides evaluation. I evaluated the work of independent assessors and the jury, who not only provided assessment for the organisation's candidates but were also open to giving advice for operational improvement of the organisation. Besides illustrating the best and transparent accountability practices of the organisation's candidates, the evaluation of the awards gave ample evidence of its best practices with its efficient, transparent and accountable process. Keeping these factors in mind we chose three winners from among three categories of small, medium and large-size NGOs, who were really good and deserved to be recognised as the NGOs of 2014.
The only thing we could improve for Viet Nam NGO Awards 2015 is to communicate better and encourage more NGOs to participate. There were 42 applicants for Viet Nam NGO Awards 2014. I hope that next year, the NGOs who have not won this year will not cease their efforts for self-improvement and will continue to participate and win the Viet Nam NGO Awards next year. We also hope that NGOs, who are still confused about participating in a first-time programme, will not hesitate to enter the movement.
Why is transparency and good accountability so important to NGOs? How about state/governmental agencies?
In this context, transparency associated with accountability is not only a critical requirement for the practice of democracy, guaranteeing the right of citizens to participate in the country's management, but more importantly, is an effective solution to prevent and combat corruption. "Transparency" and "accountability" are also effective tools to build strong institutions that believe in development effectiveness and sustainable development, which is the trend, and the urgent need of the state/governmental agencies, and businesses and NGOs. For an NGO especially, practising transparency and accountability is essential purely to ensure its four core "self" principles of "voluntary, self-governing, self-financing and self-responsibility" toward effective operations and contributions. Demonstrating transparency and accountability principles and ability, an NGO's image will be enhanced and it will be trusted by the government and communities. It will also increase the NGO's competitiveness and attract new sources of funding to grow and survive as international organisations have shown a tendency to reduce funding.
With governmental agencies, transparency and accountability are essential and compulsory as regulated by law and policies. Promoting transparency and accountability, NGOs would like to demonstrate their effectiveness and inspire other development partners including the state/ governmental agencies to practise transparency and accountability for an effective social change in Viet Nam.
NGO Awards presented
Viet Nam NGO Awards were held for the first time in Viet Nam by the Resource Center for Management and Sustainable Development (MSD) in collaboration with the Resource Alliance, funded by Rockefeller Foundation and Irish Aid.
Three NGOs won the Awards of NGO of the Year 2014.
Small category (NGO with income below 30,000 USD/ year): Hearts for Hue Foundation.
Medium category (NGO with income from 30,000 - 100,000 USD/year): Micro Finance and Community Development Institute (MACDI)
Large category (NGO with income more than 100,000 USD/year): Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP). _ VNS