Ulaanbaatar, May 22, 2009 — Efficient engagement between Non-Government Organizations, the Mongolian Government and international agencies has taken a step in the right direction as a result of a meeting organized by the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on May 22.
Over 40 NGOs joined representatives from the Cabinet secretariat and the Ministries of Social Welfare Labor, of Education, Culture and Science, and of Nature, Environment and Tourism and UNDP, GTZ, ADB, SDC, and the World Bank, to explore ways of improving cooperation.
Mongolia is one of the world’s youngest democracies having shifted from socialism in 1990. NGOs have become increasingly active in Mongolia’s development since that change due in large part to an improved understanding of their role in society. About 70 percent of registered NGOs in Mongolia focus on poverty, social and environment issues and frequently organize activities in their respective development fields.
Following on from a preliminary NGO meeting held in February, the World Bank and SDC in Mongolia offices were able to provide constructive responses to priority needs outlined by NGOs. Arshad Sayed, country manager and resident representative of the World Bank in Mongolia, said, “We acknowledge the roles of NGOs which is an important part of civil society, in the development process of Mongolia. The Bank will continue to support NGOs for their active involvement in the country’s development mainly in area of governance, mineral based economy, environment, rural and urban development, etc.”
“Capacity building of local NGOs is one of the priority needs expressed during the first workshop. SDC will provide management training and create a training platform for NGOs for their institutional development,“said Felix Fellmann, deputy director, SDC.
Donors GTZ, UNDP and ADB expressed their willingness to join the open tender platform initiated by SDC and the WB where donors call for tenders for CSO services, and which advertises knowledge sharing opportunities for and amongst organizations. This would promote CSO participation in the delivery of public services and provide donors better selection opportunities for service contracting.
Ts. Davaadulam, Governance Practice Manager, UNDP, noted the importance of further discussion on how development partners and the Government could support NGOs focusing on advocacy and public awareness issues.
After the partners’ presentation on their programs and opportunities for NGOs, S. Myagmar-Ochir, executive director of Mongolian cooperative’s training and information center, said, “Every development partner provides a range of opportunities for CSOs for their active involvement in development projects and also knowledge and information sharing activities. It is important for us to clarify our vision and strategy for development and take benefit from these opportunities.”
Ministries have made significant developments in their working relationships with NGOs and they presented these engagement strategies at the meeting.
B. Dolgor, Minister of the Government of Mongolia and head of the Cabinet Secretariat, made opening remarks about the partnership between Government and CSOs. She emphasized progress made in partnership since an agreement between the CSO council and Cabinet was signed in February 2008. She noted the progress moved closer to the work the two parties had discussed and agreed.
As a follow up agreement at Cabinet level, key ministries have already made steps for cooperation with a CSO council for each sector. The Ministries of Nature, Environment and Tourism, and of Education, Culture and Science have already identified area s of partnership with CSOs and listed public services which could be delivered by NGOs through a more competitive process. In addition, NGOs are active in the law-making process, monitoring public services and in public awareness activities.
The Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor has developed a regulation of the partnership based on their experience in cooperation with CSOs.
The Government officials and Ministry heads of department noted that NGOs being contracted by Government departments to provide service was increasing but acknowledged there was room for more cooperation and improved quality of service.
Directors and executives of NGOs who attended this meeting expressed a need to improve partnership efficiency. G. Urantsooj, director, Human rights and development center, appreciated the frank exchange during the meeting and expressed the importance of having regular such meetings as good basis for the partnership well in place.