This chapter summarizes the findings of the research, draws conclusions and makes recommendations based on the findings the researcher made. The challenges associated with resource utilization among local NGOs in HIV and AIDS sector is now clear as day light. Recommendations have been made to address the challenges that were identified from the analysis.
5.1 Major Findings
This research work has identified reasons why local NGOs are confronted with resource utilization challenges and has provided solutions using experts made up of development partners, INGO as well as GAC staff to get the best strategies to address the challenges. The researcher came out with the following major findings with respect to the objectives:
Human Resource challenges
There is no doubt that local NGOs in HIV and AIDS sector are confronted with challenges related to human resource. From section 4.1 to 4.5 it was clear as confirmed by 74.29 % of local NGOs who agreed that they do not have the requisite human resource with experienced to manage resources. Local NGOs therefore rely largely on volunteers/peer educators and part-time technical personnel.
This is what has often led to their inability to properly account for resources they receive for project activities. This studies confirms that of Lekorwe (2007), which argued that lack of well trained and experienced human resources limits the extent to which local NGOs are able to manage their daily affairs and their capacity to effectively plan, appraise, implement, and monitor their projects and programmes.
Figure 3.1 describes the staff qualifications of local NGOs which say that only a few staff have master's degree thus 0.37 percent usually founders and Directors who many a times are not full time staff because they either work for government or have another engagements which prevents them from actively overseeing the activities. As described by one expert the 'care takers' are macro managed which makes it difficult for good plans to be implemented because founders see the NGO as their business. 23.35 percent personnel had First Degree mostly project Managers and Coordinators, 12.23 percent had High National Diploma and other Diploma Certificates usually Filed Supervisors/Officers, 20.76 had professional Certificates including NVIT. The majority of the employees 31.14 percent were Senior High School graduates, whilst 12.15 percent had other forms of education. If the people who do the day to day work are unable to appreciate what their task is, then it is obvious that not very much can be achieved.
The study also supports the findings by the World Bank Group 2013 in which they stated categorically that the most common weaknesses of the NGO sector include: limited financial and management expertise, limited institutional capacity, low levels of self-sustainability, isolation/lack of inter-organizational communication and/or coordination, small scale interventions and lack of understanding of the broader social or economic context.
This is how one local Manager put the issue of human resource the major problem relates to attrition. You train a person over a period of time and he is pouched'. The study also supported the statement by Zambian President, Levy Mwanawasa, who argued in March 2004 that most civil society groups were composed of family members who got donor funding under the guise of AIDS prevention programmes (16 September 2005 GNA). This is because many of the personnel of local NGOs are either family relations or friends. Recruitment is done solely on networks.
Table 4.2 on how to overcome technical challenges confirms Vilain (2006) finding in which Vilain identified the challenges of NGOs to include; recruitment, assignment and layoff as well as human resources development and administration and finally everyday management of staff. NGOs are found to be weak at staff career development. Often organizations lacked a career structure in which staff could develop. In addition they are not good at budgeting for staff training. In situations where the organizations were expanding rapidly, it creates problems for many who are unable to keep up with the demands of their work.
The study revealed that local NGOs staff were not well remunerated as seen in Table 3.2 and from 4.3 to 4.3.3 which leads to the recruitment and employment of unqualified personnel and pouching as well as staff turnover by the few qualified staff to seek 'greener pastures' as noted by one of the INGOs who said their partners were losing a lot of personnel. Ibrahim and Muhtesem (2006) in their study revealed that not all people working for local NGOs are volunteers. There are paid staffs who typically receive lower pay than in the commercial private sector. As indicated in table 3.2 majorities of staff earn between three hundred and five hundred Ghana cedis monthly without any other additional allowances. In Ghana today, government personnel are
well motivated than local NGO staff hence their inability to retain competent personnel. Many local NGOs suffer from "brain drain" as trained professionals are hired away from their home communities by INGOs paying higher salaries. As a result, attracting and sustaining fully qualified and trained staff is yet another challenge (Helen, 2005).
Governance and Management Issues of Local NGOs
The formation of board of directors is crucial to the survival of local NGOs in HIV and AIDS as they are obliged by law to have board of directors as indicated in the company code. It was revealed during the study that only 20% person of local NGOs board is active while's majority 80% are sluggish. The study also revealed that only 20 percent of board members play key roles while 80 percent board members play no role. Board members are either friends or relatives of founders whose names are merely kept on the file to fulfil donor requirement rather than provide any policy direction. What accounted for this according to local managers was because they did not have means of motivating board members. Some also see the NGO as their business which failure or success depended on them.
This confirms Mukasa (2006) who opined that the common problem among NGOs was to do with the governance of the organizations and the relations between board members and staff. These stemmed largely from the boards' inability or unwillingness to carry out their responsibilities of governing the organizations. Board members often lacked the time or the expertise to be able to carry out these responsibilities effectively. As a result, senior staffs were often left to make policy decisions with little or no support from board members. Mukasa, observed that most nonprofits organizations are governed by self-perpetuating, largely self-appointing boards of directors.
The study supports the findings by Lotsmart (2007) who maintained that majority of local NGOs lack such structures and operating mechanism. This makes it difficult for any local NGO to systematically generate funds locally. The major contributory factor to this is the constraint that limited financial resources places on the ability of NGOs to plan, organize and design clearly defined structures as well as equip their offices with adequate equipment and facilities to enable them work effectively.
Turary (2002) argues that local NGOs are constrained by their limited managerial and technical capacity. Board members are required to provide strategic direction for the management of local NGOs this is lacking. According to Gareth and Jennifer (2011), board members are responsible for the design of organizational structures that facilitate Planning, strategies, control, make positive change and acquire competitive advantage in the organization.
The studies disagree with Lekorwe (2007) which argued that efforts by NGO help to ensure that government goods and services reach the grassroots, the poor, the marginalized, the disadvantaged in society, both fairly and equitably. The disagreement steam from the fact that local NGOs lacked transparency and accountability and that many of the resources meant for the grassroots people either never went to them in full or at all. This confirms what happened in Botswana and reported by Guardian (2006), that some local NGOs dealing with the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Botswana have been accused of maladministration, financial mismanagement, and the misuse of donor and public funds which were channelled through them.
Even in Ghana, 17 defaulting organisations were detected in 2003 to have misapplied funds including those that could not be traced. Some of these organisations have no
offices or permanent addresses and have just one man, a non- professional, operating from a briefcase in hand. (16 September 2005 GNA).
Managers of local NGOs lack the capacity to plan regarding programmatic, salaries and administrative cost. As a result of their inability to plan well, the budget is usually thrown of board when they finally win the contract to execute their projects. This is coupled with poor attitude to NGO activities by local managers who see the charity work as a personal business. Some have converted official vehicles to family property and use it for family work rather than office work. In the same way they see the project accounts as their personnel account and make withdrawals as and when without regard to what the budget lines are. This support the work of More (2005) which noted that NGOs in developing countries often lack institutional capacities, ability to plan and develop strategic plans as a result they often manage donor funds poorly.
The findings of this study on poor planning disagrees with that of Holloway (2001) who argued that NGOs are a group of organizations distinct from government institutions and that their distinct feature steam from the fact that they are formed to complement, supplement and offer alternatives to government development efforts. How can someone complement, supplement and provide alternatives when one cannot plan well? We all know that the government sector is bedevilled with poor planning the consequent of which is their inability to meet demands of goods and services.
All the 35 respondents and the 10 experts said there were conditions attached to every resource that are made available to local NGOs. The most common conditionality or restriction among donor funded projects was identified as allowable and non-allowable
which is meant to cover only direct programme costs, but not the cost of support services or other overhead costs incurred by the local NGO. Donor agenda was revealed to be another condition which makes management of resources difficult. Donors are those who determine which target population is more important than the other and what are the suitable and important best intervention strategies to address these problems. Mechai and Hayssen (2001) believe strongly that conditionality inhibits the autonomy of NGOs to choose which program activities to undertake and to select the most effective intervention strategies to achieve program goals. They add that all donors have their own agenda, i.e., their own views as to which problems are important and the best intervention strategies to address these problems.
Cost share or counter-part funding which is pinged between 10 to 20 percent of the project sum depending on who the funding agency was is also not helping the development and management of funding.
A study conducted by Svensson (2000), argued that conditioned type of aid succeeds when donors are able to keep their promises that they have committed. The researcher shares this view because it was revealed during the study that some donors do not keep their promise. In fact this is how one manager puts it 'limitations to resource utilizations relates to the timeliness of fund releases by donors'.
As march as conditionality will enhance the proper management of resource, funding agencies must endeavour to limit the dictates and reduce the cost share component. This is because many local NGOs are not able to meet these conditions. It is among the reasons why they are not able to pay staff well as they pretend they will add the remaining percent from their own source of income which they do not have means of generating to pay staff extra time on donor funded projects.
Conditionality is followed by remarkable negative effect on aid utilization. Most of the aid conditions are sort of quick actions, and donors are aware of the negative impacts. Deborah and Knack (2004) argued that despite what we believe to be generally good intentions, the foreign aid system also poses problems for governance in aid dependent states. Same can be said of local NGOs whose major source of resources for HIV and AIDS activities is donor driven. It is time overdue that local NGOs turned to corporate institutions in Ghana for funding.
The study revealed that 77.14 percent of respondents knew of other NGOs whose contract have ever been abrogated. In fact some of them once upon a time have had their contracts abrogated for similar reasons they assigned to their colleagues. It was revealed that GAC within six months in a region had to abrogate five local NGOs contracts. Experts from INGO also mentioned that there organizations had to abrogate contracts of local NGOs citing the following reasons as basis;
• Misapplication and misappropriation of funds
• Deviation from contractual agreement as stipulated in the grants proposal
• Delay in implementation of project
• Inadequate and inconsistency in who is in-charge of the project
• Improper financial reporting
• General poor performance
It was also clear that local NGO managers played a key role leading to contract abrogation ranging from lack of transparency and accountability to using other donor funds for different projects in anticipation of getting reimbursement and also depend solely on donor funding for everything in their lives.
The aforementioned issues are not only limited to local NGOs even with some INGO like AED was cited for "evidence of serious corporate misconduct, mismanagement, and a lack of internal controls," as well as "serious concerns of corporate integrity." Christopher (March 31, 2011).
Effective Resource Utilization
Effective resource utilization can only come about when there are well structured and followed policies to serve as checks and balances on the managers of local NGOs. It was revealed that systems to ensure checks and balance on resource utilization were non-existent. All the 35 local managers claimed they conduct internal audit. For those who conduct both internal and external audit said it was an organizational policy 48.57 percent whiles 51.42 percent said it was a requirement by donors in the approval of funds or grants.
Experts opined that for local managers of local NGOs to enhance effective resource utilization they must be prepared to have an open door policy, make use of petty cash system that is to say following policies, procedures, controls, and forms that a company uses to dispense cash for various miscellaneous needs, such as office supplies and services. It was revealing to note from experts that some local NGO do not keep vouchers making reconciliation difficult. Slim (2002) says the practice of Western charities of reporting on money raised and spent, the number of poor people reached, and the administrative cost of raising and spending the money is over. This is true to the extent that donors are no longer making money available to NGOs who are not accountable.
This means the contracts and letters for money they receive and the receipts and the invoices for things they buy are not recorded. Ali (2005) refers to these as the
cornerstones of being accountable. He adds that managers of funds must make sure that all these records are carefully filed and kept safe.
The study again support the position of Ali (2005) outline of what Ali refers to as good control systems which are: Keeping cash in a safe place (ideally in a bank account), making sure that all expenditure is properly authorized, following the budget, monitoring how much money has been spent on what every month, employing qualified finance staff and having an audit every year not forgetting of carrying out bank reconciliation every month. This means checking that the amount of cash you have in the bank is the same as the amount that your cashbook tells you that you ought to have.
5.2 Implications of the findings
An implication of this is the possibility that if staff remuneration or better still level of motivation among local NGOs staff and board members is not given a second look, very soon, local NGOs will not have qualified staff that will willingly be committed to work for the organization. Pouching and staff turnover is going to see an unprecedented increase. This is coupled with the fact that the cooperate world and the government sector is paying better as compared to what staff of local NGOs are currently earning even with same qualifications. Board members of cooperate institutions are well paid whiles NGOs continue to depend on volunteers this is a dangerous path for mediocrity.
The discussions from the research suggest several courses of action in the areas of organisational structure and systems for effective resource utilization by most of the local NGOs. A situation if not properly handled has the tendency to greatly affect access to funding especially from external donors who are the major source of funding for HIV and AIDS activities. It can also prevent the few internal corporate and individuals who are support CBOs to withdraw. It is therefore important that each local NGO begins to realise
the importance of organisational structure and work towards the development of one. The aforementioned supports the work of Lotsmart (2007) whose work maintains that majority of local NGOs lack such structures and operating mechanism. This makes it difficult for any local NGO to systematically generate funds locally. The major contributory factor to this is the constraint that limited financial resources places on the ability of NGOs to plan, organize and design clearly defined structures as well as equip their offices with adequate equipment and facilities to enable them work effectively.
The results of this study support in part donor dictates and conditionality but not to the extents that it will contribute to local NGO managers 'cutting corners' in an attempt to get funding. The issue of cost share which is pinged from 10 to 20 percent is hampering the delivering of HIV and AIDS activities among local NGOs. Making local NGOs to also pre-finance and be reimbursed is not ideal for local NGOs in HIV and AIDS sector. This often delays activities and in many cases activities are left undone.
The evidence from this study suggests that local managers of HIV and AIDS activities lack transparency and accountability. This attitude if not changed can bring the whole HIV and AIDS funding to a standstill as donors may stop funding activities because they do not get proof of how judiciously the funds were used. This is supported by the fact that GAC within six months had to abrogate five local NGOs contract. The local NGO, beneficiary communities and the entire nations suffers from this move.
5.3 Direction for future research
It is recommended that future research be undertaken in the following areas;
Addressing human resource and management challenges, what are the numbers with regard to attrition, pouching and turnover?
Should development partners/donors continue to dictate the programmatic areas as well as target population for HIV and AIDS intervention in Ghana?
Local NGOs in HIV and AIDS sector are performing extremely well by providing education on HIV and AIDS, Testing and Counselling, condoms and water based lubricating gel and other services to ensure that the nation achieve its goal of zero new HIV infection, free stigma and discrimination as well as elimination of mother-to-child transmission. However, resource utilization challenges coupled with the fact that Ghana has attained a low middle income status are having a negative impact on inflows of resources especially financial resources. Giving the unique roles local NGOs in HIV and AIDS sector have to play in achieving the zero new infection, eliminations of mother-to-child transmission and free stigma and discrimination, all other players (INGOs, Development partners, central government and corporate bodies) must collectively re-examine their contributions towards the financing and motivation of local NGOs staffs.
Managers of local NGOs on their part must inculcate transparency and accountability to the management of financial resources whiles assessing factors that hinder them from enjoying support from corporate bodies. Local NGOs in HIV and AIDS should take advantage of the promotion and sale of commodities such as condoms and water-based lubricating gel to generate additional funds to augment what they receive from INGOs and Development partners so that they can afford to pay staff well. This way, they will be able to generate adequate funds internally to limit the over dependency on external funding.
The development partners who have been mentioned as the major source of funding for HIV and AIDS activities must examine their support and allow for the recruitment of technical and competent staffs on their projects. Local NGOs must endeavour to improve on their capacity levels so as to gain the confidence of donors