Rift between NZ Government and aid agency, South Sudan aid ‘infected with bribery’, new #AidToo reporting platform

Posted on 07 May 2019

+ 1 million species at risk, says new report
"Human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems, the world’s leading scientists have warned, as they announced the results of the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken," writes Jonathan Watts in the Uk Guardian.

"From coral reefs flickering out beneath the oceans to rainforests desiccatinginto savannahs, nature is being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10m years, according to the UN global assessment report."

Sometimes its the unseen species like insects in the ground who are key to soil quality, or the insects that help with pollination.

"In economic terms, the losses are jaw-dropping. Pollinator loss has put up to $577bn (£440bn) of crop output at risk, while land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of global land."

"The warning was unusually stark for a UN report that has to be agreed by consensus across all nations. Hundreds of scientists have compiled 15,000 academic studies and reports from indigenous communities living on the frontline of change."
+ Rift between NZ gov and aid agency
The revelation that a New Zealand nurse has been captured by Islamic State and detained in Syria for almost six years has caused tensions for the New Zealand government, writes The Conversation.

With the defeat of ISIS on the battlefield, The ICRC, which has a well deserved reputation for neutrality and impartiality, believed the time was right to appeal for help in finding her, or, if she was still being held, for her (and other ICRC captives) to be released.

The New Zealand sector is still holding out hope that Louisa is alive. 

"Louisa Akavi is an exemplar of humanity. The New Zealander of Cook Island descent is a highly specialised nurse who has offered her skills to those in need, wherever they are. She has conducted 17 missions for the ICRC since the mid-1990s," writes the Conversation."
+ South Sudan aid 'infected with bribery'
Stories of international donors asking for $5000 'kickbacks' to release funds to local NGOs are on the rise in South Sudan, according to Sam Mednick of Devex.

Corruption relating to the allocation of grants and jobs in South Sudan’s aid sector is rife, according to South Sudanese humanitarians, civil societies, private organizations, and local aid groups who shared their stories with Devex.

"All of the alleged instances involved payments solicited by national or regional staff who were bribing local aid groups for project grants, private contractors, and South Sudanese nationals in search of jobs.

The problem partly stems from donors not taking the time to make office visits to keep up with what’s going on with their partners, and not having more checks and balances involving top officials, according to locals

'National NGOs should be directly engaged with donors instead of middlemen, they say.

+ A host of crisis looming in Cameroon
The recent ouster of two long-serving African presidents—Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria and Omar al-Bashir in Sudan—has intensified the focus by Cameroonians on the nearly 37-year reign of their aloof 86-year-old president, Paul Biya, writes Jeffrey Feltman at the Brookings Institute.

Three crises are playing out:
  • Since 2014, Boko Haram has terrorized Cameroon’s far north region
  • Peaceful protests against linguistic and political marginalization in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions erupted in 2016. (Anglophones account for approximately 20 percent of Cameroon’s population, with the rest considered Francophone (in addition to about 200 local languages)
  • With the removals of Bouteflika and Bashir, anti-Biya protesters hope to attract attention with new chants: “It can happen in Sudan; it can happen in Cameroon.”
+ How to shake things up in your communications  

Sisonke Msimang, development and communications expert, recently challenged development communicators to dissect the storytelling patterns the aid sector has long relied on.

The existing formula lacks imagination and authenticity about the complex narratives of people around the world, she told Devex recently.

"If you're interested in stories about the (development) work — whether there is an impact or the money they receive or the activities in which they are engaged — then you need to engage in storytelling in a way that emanates from those people. It has to be as unfiltered or unprocessed as possible," she says.

"What I've realized is that development stories are incredibly boring and that they are pitched at a certain idea of a person who isn't actually the general public. They’re often pitched at each other".

Meanwhile, talking of changing the way we tell stories, Thomas Coombes from Bond UK comes up with '5 ways to change the narrative on aid from fear to hope.'

"When a 2019 Gillette advert condemned toxic masculinity and encouraged men to be “the best a man can be”, activists rolled their eyes," he writes. But actually, the campaign was effective at embodying the kinds of values that NGOs represent.

And it felt good! 

"Civil society tends to be so busy exposing the world’s most terrible suffering that it rarely communicates hope, fatally undermining efforts to make change happen."

For our sector (but not only), the challenge of reaching people we don’t agree with is especially important at a time when the far right is mainstreamed by the media and inciting hatred is a regular activity. The challenge is both personal and political – what are the tools we need to disagree better?
+ CID Talk this week -  Making Relationships Count 

VSA's Gretchen Leuthart will talk about her work on relationships in development at 12.30pm this Thursday, 9 May at VSA (77 Thornton Quay).

Relationships are central to effective outcomes in the international development sector yet, there are very few frameworks or indicators to help measure the quality of trust – as the foundation of relationships. 
Gretchen’s thesis is based on a case study of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (Caritas), and its tangata whenua partners. Perspectives on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and specifically measuring trust, are explored from a Māori world view. 
Come and hear Gretchen present her findings and be part of an ongoing conversation about culturally competent M&E and the centrality of trust-based relationships in expanding evaluation practice. Murray Shearer, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand's Programmes Manager, will take part in the Q&A session of the Talk.
+ New reporting platform for Aid workers to track sexual violence

The United Nations Security Council's Resolution 2467 recognises that men and boys are targets of sexual violence both in wartime and in post-conflict settings and calls on countries to strengthen policies to provide help for victims.

The international debate around the #MeToo movement continues.

Meanwhile, NGO Insecurity Inside, best known for collecting data on attacks against aid workers, has created this reporting mechanism to give survivors a space to tell their story anonymously and confidentially, and to push the aid industry to create safer workplaces for staff.

The platform continues the work of Report the Abuse, which was the first NGO to highlight the issue in the sector but was forced to close in 2017 due to a lack of funding.

Also, Bond gives us practical ways for trustees to lead on safeguarding.

  • Set the right tone
  • Reduce risk
  • Encourage speaking up
  • Investigate complaints
  • Support survivors
  • Ensure openness and accountability 
+ How to support local partners to be financially viable  

Also from Bond UK, ideas to help local partners continue to be financially viable, even when donor 'fashions' for what to fund change. 

"An overreliance on international funding makes local CSOs vulnerable to changing aid priorities and donor withdrawal. Without this security, local organisations can’t plan for the long-term and have less ownership of the development process."

Some key takeaways:
  • Social capital is valuable (links to the community and access to local volunteers)
  • Unrestricted funding should be capitalised (eg small amounts from membership fees)
  • Contributions of land & people are as valuable as money 
Here's what NGOs can do to support financial stability:
  • Provide support for core business and do it over the long term
  • Stop viewing partners as just 'implementing partners' and see them as 'co-creators'
  • Challenge your own negative views of local partners
+ How do we know when things are going wrong?  

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Navi Pillay, will Chair the panel leading the independent review which was announced on 4 March into allegations raised in the media in the context of international WWF’s conservation work.

WWF International President Pavan Sukhdev, said “WWF is committed to safeguarding a future where people and nature can thrive together. Any kind of abuse and the tragic impact it has on individuals is extremely disturbing and distressing. Respect for human rights is at the core of our mission, and we are taking these allegations seriously with an independent review, to be conducted under Judge Pillay’s leadership. Any shortcomings uncovered by the review will be addressed; we are committed to taking swift and appropriate action.”

These allegations follow the ‘complaint to the OECD' lodged in 2016 by Survival International. From a legal perspective, this complaint was unique, because it was the first to be filed by one NGO against another using OECD Guidelines that had originally been designed to handle complaints against multinational companies.

Accountability of New Zealand’s international NGOs is helped by the CID Code of Conduct. All members of CID must become Code signatories which means they must prove they have policies and processes in place to prevent issues like this happening, and deal with them appropriately when incidents do occur.  

WWF in New Zealand is a CID Code signatory.

Many sectors in other countries are entirely self-regulatory and lack compliance and enforcement mechanisms. The most structured mechanism is probably the CHS Verification Scheme that offers verification and certification processes operated by the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI).

Corporates have been held accountable for breaches of human rights since the early 1970s with the first OECD Guidelines, and more recently, there have been further efforts with the adoption of the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

By comparison, some argue NGO activities are currently under-regulated when it comes to respecting international human rights law.

The dispute between Survival International and WWF illustrates this regulatory vacuum since SI had to invoke an instrument - in the form of the OECD Guidelines - that was originally designed for multinational companies. In which case, how do we ensure that international NGOs comply with international human rights standards?

CID Member of the Moment: New Zealand China Friendship Society

Congratulations to the New Zealand China Friendship Society who has just become a CID Code of Conduct compliant member. They are a unique and highly valuable member of CID, bringing their extensive understanding of China's role in the Pacific to the New Zealand sector. Congratulations!

Their mission is:
  • To promote friendship, understanding and goodwill between the peoples of China and New Zealand by encouraging visits and exchanges of ideas, information, culture and trade between the two countries
  • To foster interest in and promote the study of China, its history, culture, political and social structures – past and present
  • To support specific aid projects in China
  • To promote the study of the Chinese language by New Zealanders and advanced English studies in this country by Chinese
  • To foster on-going development of all sister-city links between New Zealand and China
  • To assist both visiting students and new migrants from China requiring help to fit into New Zealand society
For more information visit the New Zealand China Friendship Society website.
+ What our Members are up to this week

Circuit International Appeal:

"Got any Sri Lankan friends or colleagues in NZ concerned about the recent bombings there? If you have (like I do) please let them know that they can donate towards the medical costs of the Batticaloa Zion Church bombing victims many of them children, who are still in need of specialist medical care. 

Our NGO Circuit International is accepting donations until 20th May

100% of the donations will be forwarded onto the church, and an accountability report from a third party will be sent to donors, once the donations have been received and spent. 
Also let donors know they will receive a tax receipt for any donations given since we are a registered charity in NZ, which means they can claim 33% back".

+ The CID Weekly is proudly sponsored by


Africa New Zealand Aid