CSOs acquire new dimension on financial management skills

Some 30 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) located in different parts of the country have acquired a new dimension on how they should approach and manage their finances within their organisations, thanks to the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) efforts in assisting them set up their own financial manuals.

Speaking at a five-day training organized recently by the FCS in Dar es Salaam, Ms. Albina Robert who is an accountant at Jamii Inayoishi na Virusi vya UKIMWI Kanda ya Muleba said, “we now have a new dimension to approach on our financial systems compared to the situation before since we can now proceed to set up our own financial manuals”.

She added that before they had limited knowledge on the current standardized financial systems, hence the training will enable them put together financial manuals which are key in streamlining financial systems and all transactions.

For her part, Ms. Maria Komba from Nyakitonto Youth for Development in Tanzania (NYDT) based in Kigoma region says, the training has enabled them recognize and embrace key fundamentals of accounting which are essential for enhancing financial management.

“We believe working with a proper financial manual will enhance our overall efficiency and decrease unnecessary queries,” added Maria.

Mr. Geofrey Isack who was facilitating the training says the training objective was to assist CSOs develop a system that can help them manage their finances efficiently and effectively.

He said the training was based on their desk review, which shows that many CSOs in the country were still operating without having standardized financial manuals. He thus believes the training coordinated by the FCS will enable CSOs to comfortably prepare financial manuals that are so important in enhancing their accountability, as well as minimize the risk of misuse of resources.

 

CSOs challenged to bring to life gender issues into realities

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been advised to bring to life gender issues into their organisational systems, starting from designing to implementation of development projects.

Speaking in mid February at a session organized by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) in Dar es Salaam in preparation for the drafting of CSOs gender policies, Ms. Gemma Akilimali, who is a gender expert put the blame on organisations that have been conducting their activities devoid of taking consideration of diverse gender groups.

She said, since organisations are working with different ‘gendered societies’ then it is important their policies and programs mainstream gender issues in programs such that both males and females are considered equal irrespective of their orientations. She pointed out that gender mainstreaming should cut across in decision-making, leadership positions, and other sensitive roles within the society.

One of the session participants, Ms. Felister Shija from Umoja wa Vikundi vya Vijana vya Uelimishaji Rika in Magu district, Mwanza region (UVVUMA) said, many CSOs are dominated by men. “Where I come from our management team is comprised of 6 males while the remaining 2 are females. This is a proof that women are not faring well in leadership positions, and if they happen to find their way it is only a handful of them that are considered.”

Ms. Felister acknowledged that UVVUMA did not have in place the gender policy something that had an adverse effect to their organisational operation, as well as when it comes to implementation of projects to the community.

She thus vowed: “with this training we are going to prepare our gender policy that will comply with acceptable standards so as to reduce the gender gaps and ultimately promote gender equality in our community and in our organisation.

However, Mr. Musa Hamza from Umoja wa Wawezeshaji KIOO in Kigoma said, “many CSOs stakeholders don’t have knowledge on gender issues thus impeding the whole aspects of gender mainstreaming”.

 

‘Community radios’ contents and relevance rests on CSOs’

While outlining basic criteria for the existence of community radios in Tanzania, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) regards the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as better equipped to shape the content and relevance of the community radios.

Speaking on 12 February in Dar es Salaam at an event organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) ahead of the official commemoration of the World Radio Day on 13 February, the TCRA Principal Broadcasting Affairs officer, Eng. Andrew Kisaka, put the CSOs at a centre stage of complementing the contents and relevance of the community radios since they too work in communities.

Eng. Kisaka said despite the country having a list of 118 registered community radios across the country it is only a handful of them that really walk the talk to serve their own geographical and community interests – and hence indirectly called upon CSOs to step up and restore the equilibrium by injecting their communal based contents into the radios. 

Thus, by rule of the game CSOs are all but invited to influence contents used in the community radios for mutual interests, as well as ensure complementation of each other.

“One of the principle criteria for the registration of a community radio is to be operated, owned and influenced by the community that it purports to be serving,” said Eng. Kisaka depicting clearly that CSOs have a greater opportunity to promote their work in the form of radio contents, and therefore restore the needed community ownership in the community radios.

However, according to other criteria, community radios have to be non-profit, promote innovation and development in the community concerned, hence CSOs are more than well equipped to grab the opportunity and contribute their contents - full of their success stories - in a more cost effective manner. 

 

CSOs call for government’s helping hand on future voter education

Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the Lake Zone have asked the government to devise strategies that can enable them access funds directly from the government when it comes to conducting voter education in future elections.

Speaking in Mwanza on 8 February, on behalf of the Lake Zone CSOs that participated in a meeting to review the voter education exercise conducted during the 2015 General elections, Mr. Edwin Soko said many CSOs could not afford to reach out to a substantial number of citizens living in rural areas, due to limited funding.

Reacting to the comment, the Director of Elections at the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mr. Ramadhani Kailima, pointed a number of weaknesses that emerged during the 25 October elections that were largely in relation to the scale of voter education conducted.

He said during the voting day NEC observed some incidences which culminated in a number of votes being declared null and void – such that due to lack of the education or other reasons best known to them some people decided to make funny drawings in their ballot papers, inserting inappropriate signs, as well as insults.

However, without directly making a comment to the CSOs earlier request, Mr. Kailima again said the voter education failed to meets its targets due to the fact that some CSOs (based on reasons best known to them) decided to conduct the voter education in contravention with the NEC guidelines, and hence paid more attention to their donor’s prerequisites. 

 

Networks within CSOs poised to redefine paths

Within the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) cycles any Civil Society Organisations’ network that has been performing well learns both the art of accepting triumph with grace and even stomach criticisms with a smile, so as to redefine the paths.

Thus, quite recent in Dar es Salaam the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) conducted training to different regional and district CSOs Networks in Tanzania to remind them of what is largely expected of them. While leading them to the new desired paths, there were albeit a few lessons for the networks to stomach.

Making an own assessment of the CSOs networks, Mr. Vincent Kuligi from Sumbawanga Municipal Association of NGOs, said CSOs networks have to act upon situations that threaten their relevance and go back reality.

“Speaking as a leader in one of these networks, it is regrettable to see that we have not done enough to mobilize our members to become dependable in enhancing solutions towards citizens’ quality of life.

For his part, the General Secretary of the Association of Non-governmental Organisations of Zanzibar (ANGOZA) Mr. Hassan Khamis Juma sees networks not being effective enough in living up to the values for their stronger existence.

“With this training we have been reminded to make sure that we bring our CSOs members together so that we can have common goals - and finding ways to achieve them,” said Hassan.

He added that, the strength of CSO networks depends on building the internal capacity of its members to be sustainable and hence contribute to the development of the entire nation.

Mr. Cosmas Makongo, who facilitated the training said: “The CSOs networks seem to have somewhat lost focus. But with the training we have been able to come up with strategies that will guide them in performing their activities better - including adherence to governance policies.”

Thus, CSOs network have agreed upon strategies for fundraising, to be more accountable to their constituencies and to the development partners, as well as be measurable in bringing about change for the quality of lives into the communities that they serve.

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