|Participants of a training workshop held by the Research Centre for Management and Sustainable Development (MSD) on transparency and accountability. Photo courtesy MSD
HA NOI (VNS) — Phung Ba Loc, a resident of Huong Tra District in the central city of Hue, badly damaged his spine in an accident several years ago. He was barely able to get by until he received support from the Hearts for Hue Fund, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to bring about sustainable change for poor families in the city.
He was given 50 chickens and training from the organisation's staff on how to raise them.
"My condition does not allow me to do manual labour, but with this support I can still earn a living," Loc said.
The Hearts for Hue Fund is running a number of projects, including providing loans to poor families, educational support for poor students, vocational support for people with disabilities and Agent Orange victims, and healthcare for poor children in the city.
"We always carry out surveys to find out what local residents need before we start a project and commit funds," said Nguyen Trong Khanh, head of the Hearts for Hue Fund.
The fund's approach and effective, transparent practice has earned it the honour of being chosen as one of the 12 most outstanding Vietnamese NGOs in the final round of the Viet Nam NGO Awards 2014, organised by the Research Centre for Management and Sustainable Development (MSD) and Resource Alliance.
The awards, which are the first of their kind, are to honour local NGOs for their efforts to practice good accountability, transparency and resource mobilisation.
"In Viet Nam, the role and voice of social organisations and their response to the needs and rights of vulnerable community groups has become more and more essential," said Nguyen Phuong Linh, MSD's director.
"In this context, transparent and mutual accountability are crucial tools for building strong and sustainable organisations and effective development," she said.
The awards were not only a competition among NGOs, they were also a process in which NGOs were judged on their competency, operations and sustainable development. The idea was to inspire NGOs and multi-stakeholders to promote and practice transparency and mutual accountability, Linh added.
The awards process took eight months, during which time MSD provided training for NGO candidates on transparency and accountability. The NGOs then submitted their documents which were evaluated by independent assessors.
These assessors evaluated the NGOs performance and also acted as consultants for the organisations to improve their operational quality.
"Practicing transparency and accountability is the responsibility of all social organisations, and it's also the most important principle of out organization," said Khanh from the Hearts for Hue Fund.
"I think the awards can play a crucial role in promoting transparency and accountability among Vietnamese NGOs," he said.
Pham Kieu Oanh, founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP), one of the 12 finalists, shared Khanh's opinion.
"Our principle is that we have to explain each penny of our donors' money that we spend, and how that money can make a change or profit to the community. In all of our projects, we always ask our contractors to do the same," Oanh said.
"This culture should be maintained and developed among all social organisations," she added.
Forty-two Vietnamese NGOs submitted their applications for the awards, and the sponsors of the competition said they highly appreciated the idea.
"The awards recognise the effort and achievement of organisations and showcase them as good practices of transparency, accountability and resource mobilisation. I hope this will radiate widely for the development of civil society in Viet Nam," said Garvan McCann from Irish Aid.
Ashvin Dayal from the Rockefeller Foundation, another award's sponsors, said he saw the success of the award in its organisation process.
"The organisers have also invited experienced and reputable people and experts in the field to be members of the assessment panel. The evaluation process was very transparent and accountable. I think that is the success," he said.
The Viet Nam NGO Awards 2014 Ceremony will take place on June 20, 2014 in Ha Noi. It will reward the best three organisations in each catagory, and besides the publicity, they will receive VND 100 million (US$4,700) each. These organisations will also be eligible to particpate in the Global Awards – an international competition for NGOs organised by Resource Alliance. — VNS