Civil Society Organisations (CSOs’) in Botswana has been hit hard by the gradual withdrawal of donors since the country’s elevation to middle-income status in 2005.
A newly released index on the sustainability of CSO’s in Sub Saharan Africa suggests the work of some of the bigger organisations in Botswana, including SOS Children’s Village, have been threatened by the end of their international funding.
According to the report by the U.S Agency for International Development released last week, back in 2019 SOS Children’s Village was informed by its regular international funders that they will gradually stop supporting the village due to Botswana’s improved economic status.
“SOS Botswana has asked the government to increase its funding by 50 percent to maintain operations, but the government was unable to comply with this request,” revealed the index.
The continued withdrawal of donors from the country piled pressure on the government to fund and manage priority developmental programs without external support.
“Specific data about government funding levels are unavailable. The government continued to fund some CSOs in 2019, although uncertain funding criteria and delayed disbursement still posed challenges. In addition, the requirements of government funding mechanisms typically differ from donors’ requirements,” explains the index.
CSOs in rural areas are reported to have been the hardest hit by the withdrawal of donors. Many organisations in these areas operated with little funding last year, with some even having to close shop.
“Small CSOs are often unable to compete for funding with larger organisations. For example, small CSOs in New Xade settlements are expected to submit their grant proposals via email but lack the facilities to do so,” notes the report.
To meet some of these challenges more effectively, CSOs working in health care, such as African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP) and Botswana Network on LAW and AIDS (BONELA), developed social contracting mechanisms and formalized contractual partnerships.
The purpose was to lay out the parameters under which funding will be disbursed to other organisations, such as Sisonke Botswana and LeGaBiBo so that they can deliver quality goods and services on the government’s behalf.
The index added, “Local funding sources provided limited funding to CSOs in 2019, in part because the prolonged and widespread drought reduced available resources.”
The contention is that organisations usually lack strategies for mobilising resources, as well as needed marketing and business capacities and the resources to hire dedicated staff.
Additionally, most of these societies do not have the resources to produce audited financial reports, which hinders their ability to access donor funding.