Research Report By Solomon Kofi Amoah
Since the 1990s, there has been an evolving debate on CSOs’ governance and accountability around the world (Carothers, 1999, p.19; Schmitz, Raggo & Vijfeijken, 2012; WACSI, 2015). This has mainly been due to the growing relationship between CSOs and development aid programmes, international institutions, as well as the accusations of corruption and inefficiency, levelled against select CSOs (Bendell, 2006; Trivunovic, Johnsøn & Mathisen, 2011). CSOs, particularly Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), have often been at the forefront of development project implementation, which often involves large funds in the form of aid. While this risk is an important concern, both CSOs and international donors have not been able to effectively manage these risks (Trivunovic et al., 2011). However, in many of the discourses on accountability, the focus has been on external accountability with very little emphasis on internal accountability, which often derives from effective governance structures and systems. It is this internal accountability which, when ensured in the governance and structural mechanisms of the organisation, eventually yields accountability to the people affected by the work of the CSOs, funders, governments and the international institutions. Researchers have underscored the need for CSOs to be “inwardly accountable to themselves for their organisational mission, values, and staff” (WACSI, 2015, p.82) even as they strive to be accountable upward to their funders, downward to their beneficiaries and horizontally to their peers.
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